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Nelson-Ricks Cheese Company, Inc. v. Lakeview Cheese Company LLC

United States District Court, D. Idaho

March 23, 2018

NELSON-RICKS CHEESE COMPANY, INC., an Idaho corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
LAKEVIEW CHEESE COMPANY, LLC, a Nevada limited liability company, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          Honorable David C. Nye, Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court are numerous Motions filed by the parties in this case. On December 13, 2017, Defendant Lakeview Cheese Company (“Lakeview”) filed a Motion for Leave to File Amended Answer to First Amended Complaint. Dkt. 66. In this Motion, Lakeview seeks to add an abuse of process counterclaim. Id. Plaintiff Nelson-Ricks Cheese Company (“NRCC”) responded to the Motion and Lakeview replied. Following Lakeview's reply, NRCC filed a Motion to Strike an affidavit attached to Lakeview's reply. Dkt. 69.

         Lakeview then filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. 70. NRCC responded to the Motion for Summary Judgment and contemporaneously filed a Motion to Seal a document filed in support of its response. Dkt. 74.

         Lakeview has also filed a Motion to Exclude certain experts' testimony related to its Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. 79.

         The Court prefers to hold oral argument on all dispositive motions and plans to do so for the pending Motion for Summary Judgment.[1] So while the Court will deal with that motion in due course, the Court will take up the other motions at this time without oral argument.[2] Consistent with the analysis below, the Court will DENY Lakeview's Motion to Amend, DENY NRCC's Motion to Strike, and GRANT NRCC's Motion to Seal.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Motion to Amend

         1. Background

         On September 29, 2017, NRCC notified Lakeview that it had served subpoenas on 15 Lakeview customers seeking financial information related to Lakeview's sales over a five-year period. On October 20, 2017, Lakeview filed an Emergency Motion to Quash the Subpoenas. Dkt. 47. The Court granted the same on October 26, 2017. Dkt. 57.

         In its decision, the Court reiterated the burden that third-party subpoenas can cause and noted some of the problems that had been-and/or could have been-caused by the issuance of subpoenas in this case. Id. The Court noted that when NRCC served these subpoenas it failed to include a copy of the protective order as required, and that the subpoenas directed the third-parties to tender their responses to Greenberg Cheese Company-a nonparty to this lawsuit, a direct competitor of Lakeview's, and the principle place of business of NRCC's CEO, Michael Greenberg. Id.

         Lakeview then filed the instant Motion to Amend its answer seeking to add an abuse of process claim against NRCC based upon the subpoena situation.

         2. Legal Standard

         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). However, when-as in this case-a party files a motion to amend after the Court's case management deadline to amend has passed, district courts in the Ninth Circuit apply Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b), followed by a Rule15(a) analysis.[3] See Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 607-08 (9th Cir. 1992). Under Rule 16(b), the movant must demonstrate good cause to amend. Id. at 609.

         An abuse of process claim under Idaho law involves two elements: (1) a willful act in the use of legal process not proper in the regular course of the proceeding that was (2) committed for an ulterior, improper purpose. Berkshire Investments, LLC v. Taylor, 153 Idaho 73, 84, 278 P.3d 943, 954 (2012) (citing Badell v. Beeks, 115 Idaho 101, 104, 765 P.2d 126, 129 (1988)).

         3. ...


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