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Mickelsen Farms, LLC v. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

United States District Court, D. Idaho

September 6, 2018

MICKELSEN FARMS, LLC, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ANIMAL AND PLANT HEALTH INSPECTION SERVICE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          Hon. Edward J. Lodge, U.S. District Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court in the above-entitled matter is Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration. (Dkt. 96.) The responsive briefing has been filed and the matter is ripe for the Court's consideration. 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, the Motion is decided on the record without oral argument.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs filed this action against the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) alleging violations of various federal and state statutes with regard to the Defendants' issuance and implementation of the Interim Rule and Final Rule which provided regulations for the designation and quarantining of potato fields in Idaho where Pale Cyst Nematode (PCN), Globodera Pallida, was detected in the soil as well as Deregulation Protocols. (Dkt. 1.)[1]Specifically, Plaintiffs raise claims under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. §§ 553, 701-706; the Plant Protection Act (PPA), 7 U.S.C. §§ 7701 and 7786; the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), 5 U.S.C. App. II, §§ 1-16; the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321-70; and the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

         On March 20, 2018, the Court granted in part and denied in part the parties' Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. 95.) Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration requests review of a portion of the summary judgment Order pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 59 and 60. (Dkt. 96.)

         STANDARDS OF LAW

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 59 provides a means whereby the Court may order a new trial or alter or amend a judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59. The Ninth Circuit has identified three reasons sufficient to warrant a court's reconsideration of a prior order: “(1) the district court is presented with newly discovered evidence, (2) the district court committed clear error or made an initial decision that was manifestly unjust, or (3) there is an intervening change in controlling law.” Zimmerman v. City of Oakland, 255 F.3d 734, 740 (9th Cir. 2001) (applying reconsideration to a Rule 59 motion to alter or amend a judgment); see also School Dist. No. 1J v. ACandS, Inc., 5 F.3d 1255, 1263 (9th Cir. 1993) (denying a Rule 59 motion to reconsider a summary judgment ruling). Upon demonstration of one of these three grounds, the movant must then come forward with “facts or law of a strongly convincing nature to induce the court to reverse its prior decision.” Donaldson v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 947 F.Supp. 429, 430 (D. Haw. 1996).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) provides that the Court may reconsider a final judgment or any order based on: “(1) mistake, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) fraud; (4) a void judgment; (5) a satisfied or discharged judgment; or (6) extraordinary circumstances which would justify relief.” School Dist. No. 1J, 5 F.3d at 1263. Under Rule 60(b)(6), the so-called catch-all provision, the party seeking relief “must demonstrate both injury and circumstances beyond [her] control that prevented [her] from proceeding with the action in a proper fashion.” Latshaw v. Trainer Wortham & Co., Inc., 452 F.3d 1097, 1103 (9th Cir. 2006). In addition, the Ninth Circuit has stated that “[t]o receive relief under Rule 60(b)(6), a party must demonstrate extraordinary circumstances which prevented or rendered [her] unable to prosecute [her] case.” Lal v. California, 610 F.3d 518, 524 (9th Cir. 2010). This Rule must be “used sparingly as an equitable remedy to prevent manifest injustice and is to be utilized only where extraordinary circumstances prevented a party from taking timely action to prevent or correct an erroneous judgment.” Id. (quoting United States v. Washington, 394 F.3d 1152, 1157 (9th Cir. 2005)). Any Rule 60(b) motion must be brought within a reasonable time and no later than one year after entry of judgment or the order being challenged. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(c)(1).

         DISCUSSION

         Defendants seek reconsideration of the Court's Order on summary judgment asking that the relief afforded to Plaintiffs on their FACA claim be limited to only prospective relief. (Dkt. 96.) Plaintiffs oppose the Motion arguing the relief ordered by the Court on the FACA claim is consistent with the applicable law. (Dkt. 97.)

         The Court granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs on their FACA claim concluding the Technical Working Group (TWG) “was a formal FACA advisory committee established and utilized by APHIS” and Defendants failed to show they had complied with FACA's procedural requirements. (Dkt. 95.) Accordingly, the Court ordered:

Defendants shall make available, at Plaintiffs' request, all past recommendations and/or information produced by TWG. Plaintiffs shall be afforded a reasonable opportunity to review the past materials and comment and/or challenge the past recommendations and/or information as well as to challenge the rules and protocols adopted based upon TWG's past recommendations. Defendants shall provide an appropriate response and, if necessary, reopen discussions on the rules and protocols, or issue new rules/protocols incorporating and addressing Plaintiffs' comments and/or challenges to the past materials.
As to future agency actions, Defendants are prohibited from relying on any past recommendations and/or findings of TWG. Idaho Wool Growers, 637 F.Supp.2d at 880. If TWG, or any other advisory committee, is assembled in the future to provide recommendations concerning the PCN protocols, Defendants are hereby ...

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