Nelson-Ricks Cheese Company, Inc. v. Lakeview Cheese Company LLC
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER Plaintiff Nelson-Ricks Cheese Company's Motion to Amend Complaint (Dkt. 32 ) is GRANTED. Plaintiff Nelson-Ricks Cheese Company shall file their amended complaint within 14 days of the date of this order. Signed by Judge David C. Nye. (caused to be mailed to non Registered Participants at the addresses listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) by (jp)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF IDAHO
NELSON-RICKS CHEESE COMPANY,
INC., an Idaho corporation,
Case No. 4:16-cv-00427-DCN
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND
LAKEVIEW CHEESE COMPANY,
LLC, a Nevada limited liability company,
Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Nelson-Ricks Cheese Company, Inc.’s
(NRCC) Motion to Amend Complaint. Dkt. 32. Having reviewed the record and briefs, the
Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented. Accordingly, in
the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court finds that the decisional
process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Court will decide the motion
without oral argument. Dist. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 7.1(d)(2)(ii). For the reasons set forth
below, the Court GRANTS the Motion.
This lawsuit arises out of claims brought by Plaintiff NRCC that Defendant
Lakeview Cheese Company infringed upon Plaintiff’s registered “Nelson Ricks Creamery
Company” trademark on their website. Plaintiff asserts various claims for relief, including
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - 1
trademark infringement. NRCC’s requested relief is primarily monetary. Now, Plaintiff
wishes to amend its complaint for the purpose of adding a prayer for injunctive relief.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) provides that, once a responsive pleading has
been served, a party may amend its pleading “only with the opposing party’s written
consent or the court’s leave. The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). Lakeview Cheese Company, LLC, has not given consent to amend
the Complaint. Therefore, NRCC must have leave of the Court to amend. The Ninth Circuit
Court of Appeals recognizes that “the underlying purpose of Rule 15 [is] to facilitate [a]
decision on the merits, rather than on the pleadings or technicalities,” and, therefore, “Rule
15’s policy of favoring amendments to pleadings should be applied with extreme
liberality.” Chudacoff v. Univ. Med. Cent. of S. Nev., 649 F.3d 1143, 1152 (9th Cir. 2011)
(quoting United States v. Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 979 (9th Cir. 1981)).
The decision whether to grant or deny a motion to amend pursuant to Rule 15(a)
rests in the sole discretion of the trial court. The four factors that are commonly used to
determine the propriety of a motion for leave to amend are: 1) undue delay, bad faith or
dilatory motive on the part of the movant; 2) repeated failure to cure deficiencies by
amendments previously allowed; 3) undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of
allowance of the amendment; and 4) futility of amendment. C.F. ex rel. Farnan v.
Capistrano Unified Sch. Dist., 654 F.3d 975, 985 n.5 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Foman v.
Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)).
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - 2
The Ninth Circuit has held that although all these factors are relevant to consider
when ruling on a motion for leave to amend, the “crucial factor is the resulting prejudice
to the opposing party.” Howey v. United States, 481 F.2d 1187, 1189 (9th Cir. 1973).
Indeed, prejudice is the touchstone of the inquiry under Rule 15(a). Eminence Capital, LLC
v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003). Ultimately, “[u]nless undue prejudice
to the opposing party will result, a trial judge should ordinarily permit a party to amend its
complaint.” Howey, 481 F.2d at 1190.
Much of the briefing surrounding this Motion focuses on ancillary issues such as
inflammatory conduct by certain parties, the frivolousness of the complaint, and a prior
lawsuit (and subsequent agreement that came out of that lawsuit) between the parties.
While some of the topics bear on the Court’s decision today, others are wholly irrelevant
for the purposes of the instant motion. Specifically, questions of frivolousness and conduct
can be determined at a later time through sanctions or attorney fees, but the instant motion
is simply a request to amend the complaint. That is the standard the Court will use to make
Looking at the first factor to be considered, the Court does not believe that granting
this Motion will cause any undue delay in this case. Importantly, this amendment will not
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - 3
affect any deadlines or other aspects of case management in this suit,1 as it simply seeks to
add a request that the Court permanently enjoin Lakeview from using the mark at issue.
Additionally, it is not clear that Plaintiff brought this Motion with bad faith or
dilatory motive. Defendant argues that NRCC is only seeking to add this relief because
they brought it up in a prior motion, but such is hardly a valid reason for denying a motion.
Additionally, while there does seem to be some disconnect in the rationale as it relates to
the cease and desist order, this subsequent lawsuit, and Plaintiff’s choice of whether or not
to request injunctive relief, the Court is not convinced that such decision was nefarious in
The second factor—referring to previously allowed amendments—is not applicable
as this is the first such motion in this case.
Turning to the third and most important factor—that of prejudice to the opposing
party—the Court cannot see any resulting prejudice, nor does Lakeview cite to any, that it
would suffer were the Court to allow the amendment. If, as Lakeview claims, this lawsuit
is frivolous, or that the harm and damages that exist are not quantifiable in nature, there is
no harm in requesting relief for something they claim will be unnecessary, or that they are
Such a position (that there is no reason to request such relief because nothing has
been identified that would need enjoining) also goes to the last factor of the test—futility
Because this case was reassigned, some time has elapsed since the filing of the Motion and this decision.
Even then, the discovery cut off is not for another six weeks, and the dispositive motion deadline is still
almost four months away.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - 4
of the amendment. Like Lakeview, the Court is skeptical that such a request is even
necessary, however that does not mean that it is futile. A permanent injunction seeks to
prevent future harm from occurring and while there is an additional test, which must be
met in order for a court to grant such relief, 2 at this point NRCC is simply asking that they
be allowed to add it. That is to say, while NRCC would be required to meet the referenced
test and actually attain success on the merits before a permanent injunction would be
granted, such a burden is not yet upon Plaintiff. Because there is the possibility, however
remote, that future harm could occur in this case, such a request is not an exercise in futility.
Considering all relevant factors, particularly noting that this amendment will not
unduly prejudice the opposing party, the Court will grant the Motion and allow NRCC to
amend their complaint and add a prayer for injunctive relief as outlined in their “redlined”
version of the complaint. Dkt. 32-4.
IT IS ORDERED:
Plaintiff Nelson-Ricks Cheese Company’s Motion to Amend Complaint
(Dkt. 32) is GRANTED.
A plaintiff seeking a permanent injunction must satisfy a four-factor test before a court may grant such
relief. A plaintiff must demonstrate: (1) that it has suffered an irreparable injury; (2) that remedies available
at law, such as monetary damages, are inadequate to compensate for that injury; (3) that the balance of
hardships between the plaintiff and the defendant warrants an equitable remedy; and (4) that the public
interest would not be disserved by a permanent injunction. Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms, 561 U.S.
139, 156–57(2010) (quoting eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C., 547 U.S. 388, 391(2006)).
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - 5
Plaintiff Nelson-Ricks Cheese Company shall file their amended complaint
within 14 days of the date of this order.
DATED: September 14, 2017
Honorable David C. Nye
United States District Court
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - 6
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?