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Midbrook Flowerbulbs Holland B.V. v. Holland America Bulb Farms, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

November 4, 2014

MIDBROOK FLOWERBULBS HOLLAND B. V. Plaintiff,
v.
HOLLAND AMERICA BULB FARMS, INC., a Washington Corporation, Defendant.

ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT TO RECOGNIZE A FOREIGN-COUNTRY MONEY JUDGMENT

ROBERT J. BRYAN, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Midbrook Flowerbulbs Holland B.V.'s ("Midbrook") Motion for Summary Judgment to Recognize Foreign-Country Money Judgment. Dkt. 21. The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion and the file herein.

This case is brought by Midbrook, a Dutch company, against Holland America Bulb Farms, Inc. ("Holland Farms"), a Washington state company, to enforce a judgment from the Amsterdam Court of Appeal pursuant to the Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act ("UFCMJRA"), RCW 6.40A, et seq. Dkt. 1.

Midbrook now brings a summary judgment motion for an order recognizing the Dutch judgment. Dkt. 21. Holland Farms moves for a continuance pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d) in order to obtain further discovery. Dkt. 28. Holland Farms also opposes the motion for summary judgment, arguing that this Court should not recognize the Dutch court's judgment because the judgment was not "compatible with the requirements of due process of law." Dkt. 28. Holland Farms maintains that the judgment did not comport with due process requirements because (1) it did not get all of the discovery it sought from Midbrook in the Dutch action and (2) the Dutch court of appeal improperly reversed the district court's finding regarding whether the parties had reached a settlement. Id.

For the reasons set forth below, Holland Farm's motion for a continuance pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d) should be denied and Midbrook's motion granted.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

A. BACKGROUND FACTS

From around 1994 to 1999, Midbrook exported flower bulbs from the Netherlands to Holland Farms to sell in the United States. Dkt. 1. Midbrook was owned, in part, and managed by a brother of the owner of Holland Farms. Dkt. 29, at 3. The companies orally agreed that Midbrook would charge its actual costs of the bulbs on a one-to-one basis plus a commission. Dkt. 29, at 3. Midbrook's invoices were in Dutch Guilders ("guilder" or"NLG"); the euro did not fully replace the guilder until 2002. Dkt. 29. Midbrook had two accounts with the same bank in the Netherlands. Id. One was a U.S. dollar account and the other a guilder account. Id. To pay the invoices, Holland Farms would deposit U.S. dollars in the dollar account, Midbrook would exchange the dollars to guilders, and then deposit the money in the guilder account. Id.

Holland Farm's owner states that by 1997 he noticed that the bulb import costs on their purchases from Midbrook appeared to be higher than the competition's bulb import costs. Id. Holland Farm's owner questioned his brother and insisted on seeing Midbrook's costs records. Id. Midbrook refused and the parties agreed to stop doing business with each other in May of 2000. Id. Midbrook later contended that Holland Farms failed to pay it for the 1999 harvest. Dkt. 1.

1. Midbrook Filed Case in Dutch District Court

MidBrook filed suit in the Netherlands' Alkmaar District Court in 2002, asserting that Holland Farms failed to pay for the 1999 shipment. Dkt. 22. Holland Farms received notice of the action, was represented by attorneys, presented defenses, and asserted a counterclaim against Midbrook and others in the Alkmaar District Court. Dkt. 22, at 2. Holland Farms' counterclaim maintained that Midbrook had been overcharging it for years, and so it owed Midbrook nothing. Id.

The Alkmaar District Court issued four interlocutory orders. On June 30, 2004, the district court dismissed a party. Dkt. 32-1.

On April 13, 2005, the district court, after holding a hearing which included the testimony of witnesses, issued a ruling on Midbrook's contention that the parties had reached a settlement in regard to alleged "improper invoicing" from 1994 through 1998. Dkt. 34-1. It concluded, based on the credibility of the witnesses, that Midbrook had not succeeded in showing that on October 22, 1999, Midbrook agreed to credit Holland Farms NLG 100, 000 in exchange for Holland Farms exercising "no further rights" with respect to the invoices for 1994 through 1998. Dkt. 34-1, at 4. In that ruling, the district court further noted that:

Although Holland Farms stated a number of arguments in various places in the very extensive procedural documents about why the invoices were incorrect throughout the years, this is insufficient for further assessment of the verity of its statements. This means that [Holland Farms] first needs to specify the relevant invoices concretely, submitting them and making reference to them for the years 1994 up to and including 1998 and to indicate which amounts Midbrook invoiced unjustifiably to [Holland Farms] and why. The court orders [Holland Farms] to proceed to doing so in accordance with (Dutch) article 22 Rv.

Dkt. 34-1, at 5. The district court also ordered Midbrook to produce "insight into the way in which the invoices on which it bases its claims are drawn up." Dkt. 34-1, at 5.

On September 21, 2005, the district court dismissed Holland Farms' counterclaim. Dkt. 34-2. It found that"[a]lthough [Holland Farms] has undeniably taken great pains to specify its damages, it has neglected to specify why the amounts invoiced by Midbrook are incorrect." Dkt. 34-2, at 5.

On March 8, 2006, the district court issued a fourth interlocutory order which, in part, dismissed some of the parties. Dkt. 35-1.

On October 18, 2006, the Alkmaar District Court issued its final decision and ordered Holland Farms to pay Midbrook 1, 033, 291.19, plus interest, ...


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