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Covington 18 Partners LLC v. Attu, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Washington

November 14, 2019

COVINGTON 18 PARTNERS, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
ATTU, LLC; LAKESIDE INDUSTRIES, INC; UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY; BONNEVILLE POWER ADMINISTRATION; COVINGTON LAND, LLC, Defendants, Counter Claimants, Cross Claimants, Third Party Plaintiffs,
v.
JOHN SINCLAIR; JANE DOE SINCLAIR, FIDELITY NATIONAL TITLE INSURANCE CO., Third Party Defendants

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

          BARBARA J. ROTHSTEIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is Defendant Attu, LLC's ('Attu") motion for reconsideration, Dkt. No. 51, of the Court's order granting Plaintiff Covington 18 Partners, LLC's ("Covington 18") motion for summary judgment and denying Attu's motion to strike, Dkt. No. 50. After reviewing the motion, the oppositions thereto, the record of the case, and the relevant legal authorities, the Court will deny Attu's motion for reconsideration.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The Court laid out the background of this case in depth in its recent order granting plaintiffs motion for summary judgment and denying defendant Attu's motion to strike ("Order"). Dkt. No. 50. In brief, between 1998 and 2001, Attu purchased two adjacent parcels of land in Covington, Washington. Dkt. No. 50 at 2. During its ownership of the property, Attu was granted four easements. Id. at 2-3. In 2009, Attu adjusted the boundary lines of its parcels, creating Parcel A and Parcel B. Id. at 2. Covington 18 purchased Parcel B from Attu in 2012 while Attu sold Parcel A to Defendant Covington Land, LLC ("Covington Land"). Id. at 4.

         The current dispute concerns whether the four easements passed from Attu to Covington 18 upon purchase of Parcel B. Covington 18 claims they did, and filed the current claim for quiet title to the easements. Attu believes they did not and opposed quiet title. Additionally, Attu filed a crossclaim against Covington Land for tortious interference with a business expectancy Covington Land. Id. at 6. In its crossclaim, Attu argues that Covington Land interfered with their business expectancy because Attu originally brokered an option agreement with Covington 18 to purchase the easements, but Covington Land and Covington 18 conspired to allow Covington 18 to access the easements without first exercising the option agreement. Dkt. No. 52 at 3.

         On August 1, 2019, the Court held that the easements were appurtenant, passed to parcel B upon subdivision, and transferred to Plaintiff with the sale of Parcel B. Dkt. No. 50 at 11-14. The Court also sua sponte dismissed Attu's crossclaim against Covington Land because it rested on the premise that the easements did not pass. Id. at 22-3. Attu subsequently filed the motion for reconsideration before the Court alleging that (1) the Order's dismissal of Attu's crossclaim against Covington Land was manifest error; (2) the Court ignored evidence that shows the easements are in gross; and (3) the Order misconstrues the facts in favor of Covington 18. The Court requested responses from Covington 18 and Covington Land, and both parties replied to the motion for reconsideration on October 11, Dkt. No. 55, and October 24, Dkt. No. 58, respectively.

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A district court may reconsider its order of summary judgment under Local Rule 7(h). Sch. Dist. No. Uv. ACandS, Inc., 5 F.3d 1255, 1262 (9th Cir. 1993); Western District of Washington Local Rule 7(h)(1) (hereinafter "L.R. 7(h)(1)"). This District disfavors motions for reconsideration. L.R. 7(h)(1). This Court's standing order discourages such motions and will summarily deny motions for reconsideration that "reassert prior arguments or raise new arguments that could have been made earlier." Dkt. No. 37 at 5. Thus, unless the movant demonstrates (1) "manifest error in the prior ruling," or (2) "new facts or legal authority which could not have been brought to [the Court's] attention earlier with reasonable diligence," this Court will deny such a motion. L.R. 7(h)(1); see also Gras v. Subcontracting Concepts, LLC, 2019 U.S. Dist. WL 5081198, at *2 (W.D. Wash., Oct. 10, 2019).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Attu advances three separate grounds for its motion for reconsideration. The Court will take each in turn.

         1. Whether the dismissal of the crossclaim was manifest error

         Attu argues it was manifest error for the Court to dismiss sua sponte its crossclaim against Covington Land. Dkt. No. 51 at 2. Attu bases this claim on two separate reasons: (1) the Court dismissed without giving Attu the opportunity to present evidence and (2) new evidence rebuts the Court's conclusion in its Order. Covington Land, in its response, argues that the dismissal of, Attu's crossclaim was appropriate because: their claim (1) did nothing more than recite the elements of the claim, as recognized by the Court, and (2) was also substantively justified because Attu cannot affirmatively satisfy the elements of tortious interference. Dkt. No. 58 at 2-4.

         As it relates to the claim that Attu should have been granted a chance to provide additional evidence, "[a] trial court may dismiss a claim sua sponte under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)." Omar v. Sea-Land Service, Inc., 813 F.2d 986, 991 (9th Cir. 1987) (citing Wong v. Bell,642 F.2d 359, 361-62 (9th Cir. 1981)). Additionally, that dismissal may be made without giving notice to the ...


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