United States District Court, D. Idaho
JAMES C. HILLIARD, an individual, Plaintiff,
MURPHY LAND COMPANY, LLC, an Idaho Limited Liability Company; Defendant.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
C. NYE, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
Defendant Murphy Land Company, LLC (“Murphy
Land”). Dkt. 21. On November 15, 2019, the Court held
oral argument and took the motion under advisement. Upon
review, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court finds
good cause to GRANT Defendant's Motion for Summary
December 30, 2010, Plaintiff James Hilliard and Defendant
Murphy Land entered into a Real Estate Option to Purchase
Agreement (the “Agreement”). Murphy Land
granted Hilliard the option to purchase back the Crystal
Springs Farm property (the “Property”)
“for, and only for, the location of a nuclear power
plant facility” (the “Option”). Agreement,
§ 4. Under the Agreement, and the accompanying
Memorandum of Real Estate Option to Purchase Agreement, if
Hilliard failed to exercise his option to purchase the
Property by December 30, 2016, the Agreement would expire and
Hilliard would no longer have any claim or interest in the
2014 to 2016, the purchase price of the Property was $13,
680, 000 unless (in the intervening time since the Agreement
was signed) Murphy Land had erected capital improvements on
the Property. In that case, Murphy Land was required to
provide a review of its capital improvement payments and
receipt documentation to Hilliard, and the purchase price of
the Property would be increased by the amount Murphy Land had
6, 2016, Hilliard emailed Murphy Land a request for
documentation of any funds expended to erect capital
improvements. In response, Murphy Land requested
documentation of Hilliard's nuclear power plant
development plans. On July 27, 2016, Hilliard gave notice
that he was exercising the Option pursuant to Section 4 of
May 6, 2016, to September 12, 2016, both parties continued to
make their requests for the desired documentation. After
September 12, 2016, all communication between the parties
stopped. Murphy Land never sent Hilliard the requested backup
documentation and tax returns. Hilliard never sent Murphy
Land the requested documentation related to nuclear power
plant development. Additionally, Hilliard never tendered
payment to Murphy Land nor put any purchase amount in escrow.
Furthermore, he did not complete the purchase of the Property
under the Agreement and no instrument of conveyance of the
Property was recorded prior to December 30, 2016.
about April 17, 2017, Murphy Land sold the Property to Global
AG Properties II USA, LLC. The transfer of the Property's
title was duly recorded in the Owyhee County Recorder's
Office in Idaho. Dkt. 23-4.
29, 2018, Hilliard filed his “Complaint for Declaratory
Relief” against Murphy Land in federal court based on
diversity of citizenship jurisdiction. Dkt. 1. Hilliard is a
citizen of California and Murphy Land is a citizen of Idaho.
Hilliard alleges in his Complaint that he had exercised the
Option to purchase the Property on July 27, 2016, and that
Murphy Land subsequently failed to provide the capital
improvements documentation relating to the purchase price as
October 5, 2018, Murphy Land filed the pending motion for
summary judgment. Dkt. 21. Murphy Land asserts it is entitled
to summary judgment because Hilliard is only seeking
declaratory judgments as his remedy and such judgments would
be moot because the time for performance of the contract has
come and passed without Hilliard performing his obligations
under the Agreement. Additionally, it should be entitled to
summary judgment since Hilliard failed to properly exercise
the Option before the Agreement terminated as of December 30,
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is appropriate when the evidence, viewed in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party, demonstrates
“there is no genuine issue of any material fact and
that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Galen v. County
of Los Angeles, 477 F.3d 652, 658 (9th Cir. 2007).
Evidence includes “the pleadings, depositions, answers
to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits . . . .” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)).
moving party initially bears the burden to show no material
fact is in dispute and a favorable judgment is due as a
matter of law. Id. at 323. If the moving party meets
this initial burden, the non-moving party must identify facts
showing a genuine issue for trial to defeat the motion for
summary judgment. Cline v. Indus. Maint. Eng'g &
Contracting Co., 200 F.3d 1223, 1229 (9th Cir. 2000).
The Court must grant summary judgment if the nonmoving party
“fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party's case,
and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at
trial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.
analyzing the Agreement, the Court first reviews whether
there is a justiciable controversy before it or if Hilliard
is essentially seeking an advisory opinion from the Court.
Complaint, Hilliard “prays for judgment as
1) For a declaration that plaintiff has properly exercised
2) For a declaration that the purchase price of the property
pursuant to Section 5 of the Option is $13, 680, 000 and that
defendant is not entitled to an increase in the purchase
price of the property.
3) For a declaration that plaintiff is entitled to the value
of all growing crops on the property as of September ...