United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division
RADISH SEED GROWERS' ASSOCIATION, an Oregon cooperative; MID VALLEY FARMS, INC., and Oregon corporation; and KCK FARMS LLC, an Oregon limited liability Company, Plaintiffs,
NORTHWEST BANK, a Pennsylvania state-chartered savings association formerly known as Northwest Savings Bank, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
AIKEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
October 20, 2018, Magistrate Judge Mustafa T. Kasubhai issued
his Findings and Recommendation (F&R) (doc. 49),
recommending that defendant Northwest Bank's Motion to
Dismiss (doc. 6) be DENIED. Defendant filed Objections to the
F&R (doc. 52) and plaintiffs Radish Seed Growers'
Association, Mid Valley Farms, Inc., and KCK Farms LLC filed
a Response to the Objections (doc, 54). The matter is now
before the Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b).
the Federal Magistrates Act ("Act"), the Court may
"accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
findings or recommendations made by the magistrate." 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). If a party files objections to a
magistrate judge's F&R, "the court shall make a
de novo determination of those portions of the report or
specified proposed findings or recommendations to which
objection is made." Id:, Fed. R, Civ. P.
those portions of a magistrate judge's F&R to which
neither party has objected, the Act does not prescribe any
standard of review. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140,
152 (1985) ("There is no indication that Congress, in
enacting [the Act], intended to require a district judge to
review a magistrate's report to which no objections are
filed."); United Stales v. Reyna-Tapia, 328
F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc) (holding that the
Court must review a magistrate judge's findings and
recommendations de novo if objection is made,
"but not otherwise"). Although in the absence of
objection no review is required, the Act "does not
preclude further review by the district judge sua
sponte .. . under a de novo or any other standard."
Thomas, 474 U.S. at 154. Indeed, the Advisory
Committee Notes to Rule 72(b) recommend that "[w]hen no
timely objection is filed," the Court review the
magistrate judge's recommendations for "clear error
on the face of the record."
parties are familiar with the facts underlying this case, and
I will not retread them here, except those relevant to the
following procedural history.
Northwest Bank v. McKee Family Farms et al., Civ.
No. 3:15-cv-01576-MO, defendant filed a declaratory action in
this Court seeking a declaration that it had a superior
security interest in radish seed grown by plaintiffs.
Plaintiffs prevailed at trial before Judge Mosman, and
defendant appealed to the Ninth Circuit.
the appeal was pending, plaintiffs filed this suit against
defendant, asserting claims for intentional interference with
economic relations, conversion, and trespass to chattels
under Oregon law. Defendant moved to dismiss the claims for
failure to state a claim and because they were barred by the
absolute litigation privilege, (doc. 6) Defendant also moved
to strike the complaint pursuant to ORS 31.150, Oregon's
bar to strategic lawsuits against public participation
(Anti-SLAPP). (doc. 18)
October 3, 2017, Judge Russo issued her F&R (doc. 30)
recommending that defendant's motion to dismiss be denied
without prejudice, that the case be stayed pending the
resolution of the Ninth Circuit appeal, and that the motion
to strike be denied. In her F&R, Judge Russo found that
the Complaint alleged facts sufficient to state two of the
elements of the exception to the absolute litigation
privilege, but that the pendency of the appeal from Judge
Mosman's decision precluded plaintiffs from asserting the
third element - that the antecedent proceedings were
terminated in their favor. F&R (doc. 30) at 10-11. Judge
Russo found that staying the proceedings in this case would
better serve justice than dismissing the claims. Id.
at 11. Judge Russo also concluded that the allegations in the
Complaint stated a claim for intentional interference with
economic relations. Id. at 12-13, Finally, Judge
Russo concluded that Oregon's Anti-SLAPP statute did not
bar plaintiffs' claims at that point in the litigation.
Id. at 13. Judge Russo did not address the merits of
the conversion and trespass to chattels claims. Id.
December 5, 2017, 1 issued an Opinion and Order (doc. 41)
that adopted Judge Russo's reasoning, stayed all
proceedings in the case, "including consideration of
defendant's motion to dismiss (doc. 6), pending the
resolution of the Ninth Circuit's decision in
Northwest Bank v. McKee Family Farms," and
denied defendant's motion to strike, "without
prejudice to its renewal should defendant prevail on
appeal." Opinion & Order at 2-3.
27, 2018, the Ninth Circuit affirmed Judge Mosman's
judgment in favor of plaintiffs and against defendant, and on
August 31, 2018, the Court lifted the stay. (doc. 42). The
Court ordered the parties to file simultaneous briefs
addressing the effect of the Ninth Circuit's ruling on
the matters pending before the Court. (doc. 46).
October 30, 2018, Judge Kasubhai issued his F&R (doc. 49)
recommending that the motion to dismiss (doc. 6) be denied.
Judge Kasubhai incorporated by reference the prior F&R
(doc. 30) and Opinion and Order (doc. 41) and specifically
found that plaintiffs' allegations supported a prima
facie case for intentional interference with economic
relations and that neither the absolute litigation privilege