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O Bar Cattle Co. v. Owyhee Feeders

October 20, 2010

O BAR CATTLE CO., A UTAH D/B/A OF JERRY GOODWIN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
OWYHEE FEEDERS, INC., AN IDAHO CORPORATION, DEFENDANT. AND RELATED COUNTERCLAIMS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Edward J. Lodge U. S. District Judge

AMENDED MEMORANDUM ORDER

INTRODUCTION*fn1

Pending before the Court in the above-entitled matter is Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment or, alternatively, Motion to Correct Oversight. (Dkt. No. 186.) The parties have fully briefed the Motion and the matter is ripe for the Court's consideration. Having fully reviewed the record herein, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court conclusively finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, this Motion shall be decided on the record before this Court without oral argument.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant, O Bar Cattle Co. ("O Bar"), is a cattle company owned by Jerry Goodwin and located in Ogden, Utah. O Bar owns steer and heifer calves bearing its brand. In October of 2007, O Bar entered into an oral contract for agistment with the Defendant/Counter-Claimant, Owyhee Feeders, Inc. ("Owyhee"), whereby Owyhee would care for certain of O Bar's calves on its feedlot in Melba, Idaho. Under this agreement and between October 10 and November 15, 2007, O Bar transported over 2,000 steer calves and approximately 1,100 heifer calves to the Owyhee feedlot. In mid-November of 2007, O Bar stopped arrangements to transport additional calves to the Owyhee feedlot when it discovered its calves already located at Owyhee were "sick and dying." (Dkt. No. 1.)

O Bar began arranging to transport its calves from Owyhee's feedlot and requested an accounting. O Bar thought it was to meet with Owyhee's principals, Charlie Gibson and Robert Lincoln, on February 21, 2008 at which time O Bar would transport its remaining calves, Owyhee would provide an accounting for the deceased calves, and the parties would discuss a settlement over the lost calves. O Bar arrived on February 21, 2008 with ten livestock shipping trucks and loaded the O Bar calves into the trucks. However, Owyhee demanded payment on the feed bill due and owing before the trucks could leave. A dispute arose between the parties ultimately resulting in O Bar writing a check for $190,134.48 to Owyhee. (Dkt. No. 1, p. 6.)

The following day, on February 22, 2008, O Bar stopped payment on the $190,134.48 check after discovering there were less cattle on the trucks than had been reported. Thereafter the parties were unable to resolve their dispute and on March 31, 2008, O Bar filed its Complaint against Owyhee, seeking recovery of damages for breach of contract, negligence, conversion, and declaratory relief. (Dkt. No. 1.) Owyhee filed an Answer asserting affirmative defenses to O Bar's claims and alleging counterclaims for dishonor of check and money due on bailment. (Dkt. No. 5.) O Bar answered denying the counterclaims and raising affirmative defenses. (Dkt. No. 10.)

The Court later denied Owyhee's Motion for Summary Judgment and the matter proceeded to trial on June 15, 2010. (Dkt. No. 124, 164.) After six days of testimony and evidence, on June 23, 2010, the Court instructed the Jury and the parties offered their closing summations after which the Jury began their deliberations. The following day, on June 24, 2010, the Jury returned their verdict finding in favor of O Bar on its breach of contract and negligence claims and in favor of Owyhee on its counterclaim for dishonor of check. (Dkt. No. 175.) The Jury awarded O Bar $74,543.00 and $75,600.00 on each of its claims and awarded Owyhee $190,134.38 on its counterclaim. (Dkt. No. 175.) Thereafter, the Court entered a Judgment in favor of Owyhee in the amount of $39,991.38. (Dkt. No. 185.) The instant Motion was then filed which the Court now takes up.

DISCUSSION

1. Rule 59(e) Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment

A. Standard of Law

"The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 59(e) provides a means whereby the Court may alter or amend the judgment." A.H.D.C. v. City of Fresno, Cal., No. CIV-F-97-5498, 2004 WL 5866233, *8 (E.D. Cal. March 9, 2004) (citing Northern Cheyenne Tribe v. Hodel, 851 F.2d 1152, 1155 (9th Cir. 1988); United States v. Western Elec. Co., 690 F.Supp. 22, 25 (D.D.C.1988) (Rule 59(e) motion permits court to correct errors of fact or law appearing on the face of the record)). The scope and purpose of a motion to alter or amend under Rule 59(e) have been analyzed as follows:

Motions for a new trial or to alter or amend a judgment must clearly establish either a manifest error of law or fact or must present newly discovered evidence. These motions cannot be used to raise arguments which could, and should, have been made before the judgment issued. ...


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