United States District Court, D. Idaho
E. BRUCE STANGER, MICHAEL R. STANGER, AND KIMBERLY S. KVAMME, d/b/a SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION LAND AND CATTLE COMPANY, a partnership, Plaintiffs,
WALKER LAND & CATTLE, LLC, an Idaho Limited Liability Company, and VISTA VALLEY AG, INC., an Idaho Corporation, Defendants. WALKER LAND & CATTLE, LLC, an Idaho Limited Liability Company, Counter-Claimant,
E. BRUCE STANGER, MICHAEL R. STANGER, AND KIMBERLY S. KVAMME, d/b/a SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION LAND AND CATTLE COMPANY, a partnership, Counter-Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
C. Nye Chief U.S. District Court Judge
before the Court is Plaintiffs/Counter-Defendants' Motion
to Remand to State Court (Dkt. 6),
Defendants/Counter-Claimants' Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 8),
and Plaintiffs/Counter-Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
Claim for Contempt (Dkt. 10). The Court held oral argument on
January 4, 2019, and took the various motions under
advisement. At the hearing, the Court also requested
additional briefing from the parties on a specific issue. The
Court has received and reviewed the supplemental briefs and
these matters are now ripe for the Court's consideration.
Upon review, the Court GRANTS
Plaintiffs/Counter-Defendants' Motion to Remand, remands
this case to state court, and dismisses all other motions as
numerous pending motions-most of which overlap and are
interrelated-it is somewhat difficult to ascertain the
posture of the case and the various possible outcomes.
Accordingly, the Court begins with a summary of the timing of
the various motions and arguments.
13, 2018, Defendant/ Counter-Claimant Walker Land &
Cattle, LLCremoved this action to federal court.
Walker Land & Cattle's purported basis for removal
was that the case involves a federal question-namely its
counter-claim for contempt. That claim is based upon Walker
Land & Cattle's former bankruptcy case
(CV-13-41437-JDP) and SAGN's perceived violations of the
confirmed plan in that case.
31, 2018, SAGN filed a Motion to Remand this matter to state
court. In its motion, SAGN alleges that this Court lacks
jurisdiction because the underlying claims are all state law
claims and Walker Land & Cattle's counter-claim is
without merit and was only introduced to
“shoehorn” this case into federal court.
repose to SAGN's Motion to Remand, Walker Land &
Cattle argues that because SAGN asks the Court to make a
ruling on the merits of its counter-claim, SAGN's motion
is really a motion to dismiss, not a motion to remand, and
Walker Land & Cattle filed its own motion to dismiss
arguing that the underlying bankruptcy case prohibits this
lawsuit (specifically that it prohibits the underlying state
court claims) vis-à-vis various provisions in the
confirmed plan, stays, and other orders from the prior
bankruptcy case. Alternatively, Walker Land & Cattle
asked the Court to simply enforce the plan injunction-even if
it is unwilling to dismiss the case-and “block”
this action by SAGN.
response to Walker Land & Cattle's Motion to Dismiss,
SAGN filed a single document that served as both an objection
to Walker Land & Cattle's motion but also- apparently
harkening back to Walker Land & Cattle's criticism
that SAGN's Motion to Remand was more of a motion to
dismiss-its own Motion to Dismiss Walker Land &
Cattle's counter-claim for contempt under Rule
SAGN filed a Motion to Expedite proceedings-which Walker Land
& Cattle joined-asking the Court to take up these matters
as quickly as possibly considering the fast approaching
spring planting season. The Court GRANTED this Motion at the
E. Bruce Stanger, Michael R. Stanger, and Kimberly S. Kvamme
are siblings and partners in the ownership of Sometimes A
Great Notion Land and Cattle Company, a general partnership
that manages 800 acres of farm ground located near Ririe,
Idaho. Defendant, Walker Land & Cattle is an Idaho
limited liability company based in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Over
the years, Walker Land and Cattle has leased farm ground from
2012, the parties were co-owners of real property located in
Osgood, Idaho (the “Osgood Farm”) and co-owners
of real property located in Ririe, Idaho (the “Ririe
Farm”). On August 2, 2012, Walker Land & Cattle
entered into a lease agreement whereby it agreed to lease
SAGN's undivided one-half tenancy in common interest in
the Osgood Farm and the Ririe Farm for a term of 25 years,
with the term expiring November 20, 2037, subject to an
Option to Renew for an additional 5 years through November
November 15, 2013, Walker Land & Cattle filed a voluntary
petition for reorganization under Chapter 11.
the course of the bankruptcy proceedings, Walker Land &
Cattle indicated its intention to assume the farm lease
(executed on August 2, 2012) and continue farming the Osgood
and Ririe Farms.
objected to the assumption of the farm lease, but on April 3,
2015, the bankruptcy court entered an order confirming Walker
Land & Cattle's third amended plan of reorganization,
which included assumption by Walker Land & Cattle of the
August 2, 2012, farm lease.
April 2016, the parties agreed to divide the two farms
between them, with Walker Land & Cattle receiving the
Osgood Farm and SAGN receiving the Ririe Farm.
April 25, 2016, the parties signed the Partition Agreement
with Amended and Restated Farm Lease. A condition precedent
to closing was Walker Land & Cattle entering into an
agreement to sell the Osgood Farm to an unrelated third party
to facilitate plan payments. The condition precedent was
Partition Agreement with Amended and Restated Farm Lease also
provided that Walker Land & Cattle would lease the Ririe
Farm from SAGN.
to SAGN, over the next two years Walker Land & Cattle
failed to keep up the property per contract requirements and
did not make necessary repairs. These actions resulted in
various Notices of Default and ultimately the underlying
lawsuit in state court for breach of contract, declaratory
judgment, quiet title, and ejectment-all state law claims.
For its part, Walker Land & Cattle asserts that it made
all necessary repairs and that SAGN is simply trying to get
out of the lease so that it can find a new tenant who will
pay more in leasing fees.