United States District Court, D. Nebraska
DAVID M. MEYER AND NANCY R. MEYER TRUST UTA DATED OCTOBER 13, 2006, Plaintiff,
U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
LAURIE SMITH CAMP, Chief District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on the Motion for Reconsideration (Filing No. 18), submitted by Plaintiff David M. Meyer and Nancy R. Meyer UTA Dated October 13, 2006, (the "Trust") and the Motion for Sanctions (Filing No. 12) submitted by Defendant U.S. Bank National Association (the "Bank"). For the reasons discussed below, the Motion for Reconsideration will be denied and the Motion for Sanctions will be granted in part.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The Trust filed its Complaint (Filing No. 1) in the District Court of Douglas County, Nebraska, presenting one cause of action against the Bank: "Tortious Interference with a Business Relationship or Expectancy." In essence, the Trust alleged that the Bank made a series of loans to David and Nancy Meyer (the "Meyers") as individuals, starting in 2003, then wrongfully declined to extend further credit to them or make payments to third parties on their behalf, leading to the Meyers' bankruptcy in 2010. The Trust further alleged that it was formed by the Meyers for the purpose of operating a swine production business in South Dakota, and the Bank's failure to make timely payments to a feed supplier from March 2010 to August 2010 interfered with the Trust's valid business relationship or expectancy with the feed supplier. The Trust sought economic damages in the amount of $11, 371, 000.00, and other relief.
The Bank, a citizen of Ohio for purposes of diversity jurisdiction, removed the action to this Court on November 5, 2013, and moved for summary judgment, asserting that the Trust's claim was barred by res judicata and judicial estoppel.
The Bank referred the Court to the Meyers' earlier action against the Bank: Meyer v. U.S. Bank Nat'l Ass'n , No. 8:11cv310 (D. Neb. Feb. 10, 2012), in which the Court entered summary judgment in favor of the Bank, dismissing with prejudice the Meyers' claims for breach of contract, fraud, violations of the Nebraska Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and unjust enrichment. No. 8:11cv310 at Filing No. 22. The U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed that dismissal on May 28, 2013, holding that the Meyers "failed to comply with the revolving credit agreement, and the Bank was entitled to enforce its rights." Meyer v. U.S. Bank Nat'l Ass'n, 715 F.3d 703, 705 (8th Cir. 2013). The Bank also referred the Court to the record of proceedings in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of South Dakota, In Re Meyer, No. 10-40672 (Aug. 25, 2010) (the "Bankruptcy Proceeding"), noting that the Meyers stated there, and in their earlier district court action, that they were the owners and operators of the South Dakota swine facilities and that the feed supplier was one of their creditors. ( See Bankruptcy Proceeding, Statement of Financial Affairs, Filing No. 7-23, at 3, ¶ 10(b) (affirmation that the Meyers had transferred no property into trust within ten years preceding their bankruptcy filing)); see also Meyer v. U.S. Bank Nat'l Ass'n , No. 8:11cv310, Complaint, Filing No. 1 at ¶ 1 (D. Neb. filed Sept. 14, 2011) (representing that the Meyers were the owners of the swine facilities in South Dakota).
The Court granted the Bank's Motion for Summary Judgment (Memorandum and Order, Filing No. 17), noting that the earlier holdings of this Court and the Eighth Circuit were res judicata, and that the Trust's Complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, because no unjustified act of interference had been alleged.
I. Motion to Reconsider
When a motion for reconsideration addresses a nonfinal order, as opposed to a final judgment, it is properly construed as a Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) motion. Broadway v. Norris, 193 F.3d 987, 989 (8th Cir. 1999). Still, such motions "serve a limited function: to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Arnold v. ADT Sec. Servs., Inc., 627 F.3d 716, 721 (8th Cir. 2010) (quoting Hagerman v. Yukon Energy Corp., 839 F.2d 407, 414 (8th Cir.1988)).
The Trust argues that the Court was required to construe the Complaint liberally, accepting as true all facts alleged in the Complaint, and giving the Trust the benefit of any inferences of law or fact. In support of its argument, the Trust cites In re Estate of Halstead, 46 N.W.2d 779, 781 (Neb. 1951) ("If the petition states facts which entitle the plaintiff to relief, whether legal or equitable, it is not demurrable upon the ground that it does not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action.").
The Court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Bank was governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, because the Court considered matters outside the pleadings, and all parties were given an opportunity to present material pertinent to the motion. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). Even if the Court had considered the Bank's motion as one under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court's standard of review would not have been that suggested by the Trust. Motions to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) are governed by the standards set by the United States Supreme Court in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677 (2009). "Two working principles underlie... Twombly. First, the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "Second, only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id. at 1950 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will... be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id.
The Trust's Complaint did not state a plausible claim for relief, in light of earlier proceedings, now res judicata, establishing that the Bank's refusal to make further extensions of credit to the Meyers was justified. ...