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McLain v. McLain

United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division

February 22, 2017

FAITH MCLAIN, CHRISTEEN MCLAIN, JOHN MCLAIN, MOLLY MCLAIN, MIRA MCLAIN, AND MATTHEW MCLAIN, AS BENEFICIARIES OF THE ESTATE OF BERNARD MCLAIN, AND MARY MCLAIN, INDIVIDUALLY AS BENEFICIARY OF THE ESTATE OF BERNARD MCLAIN AND AS TRUSTEE OF THE E-3 RANCH TRUST, Plaintiffs,
v.
FRANCIS MCLAIN, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS CO-MANAGER OF TERA BANI RETREAT MINISTRIES, CAROLINE MCLAIN, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS MANAGING DIRECTOR OF TERA BANI RETREAT MINISTRIES, ALAKHI JOY MCLAIN, SOHNJA MAY MCLAIN, AND DANE SEHAJ MCLAIN, AS PURPORTED CERTIFICATE HOLDERS OF THE E-3 RANCH TRUST, Defendants. THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Intervenor Defendant and Counter/Cross Claimant,
v.
FAITH MCLAIN, CHRISTEEN MCLAIN, JOHN MCLAIN, MOLLY MCLAIN, MIRA MCLAIN, AND MATTHEW MCLAIN, as Beneficiaries of THE ESTATE OF BERNARD MCLAIN; and MARY MCLAIN, as Beneficiary of the ESTATE OF BERNARD MCLAIN, and as Trustee of the E-3 RANCH TRUST, Counterclaim Defendants, and FRANCIS MCLAIN, Individually, and as Co-Manager of TERA BANI RETREAT MINISTRIES; CAROLINE MCLAIN, Individually, and as Managing Director of TERA BANI RETREAT MINISTRIES; and ALAKHI JOY MCLAIN, SOHNJA MAY MCLAIN, AND DANE SEHAJ MCLAIN, as Beneficiaries of the E-3 RANCH TRUST, Crossclaim Defendants, and AMERICAN BANK OF MONTANA, Additional Defendant on United States' Claims

          ORDER

          Susan P. Watters United States District Court Judge

         On July 8, 2014, the McLain Plaintiffs brought this declaratory judgment action in Montana state court against the McLain Defendants. On March 11, 2016, the state court granted the United States' Motion to Intervene. (Doc. 1-3). On April 8, 2016, the United States removed the case to federal court, invoking this Court's jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1441. (Doc. 1).

         The principal issue in this case is the ownership of a ranch located in the Paradise Valley known as the E-3 Ranch. The McLain Plaintiffs and McLain Defendants filed cross-motions for summary judgment concerning whether one family member owns the ranch through adverse possession. (Docs. 23 and 30). The McLain Defendants also filed a motion to dismiss the United States' Intervenor Complaint. (Doc. 23).

         On October 24, 2016, United States Magistrate Judge Carolyn Ostby issued her Findings and Recommendations recommending that this Court deny the cross-motions for summary judgment and deny the motion to dismiss. (Doc. 67). The McLain Defendants timely filed Objections to the Findings and Recommendations. (Doc. 69).

         I. Statement of facts

         The McLain Defendants do not object to the factual history contained in the Background section of Judge Ostby's Findings and Recommendations. Judge Ostby's Background section is therefore adopted in full.

         II. Applicable law A. Standard of review

          district court reviews de novo any part of a Magistrate Judge's Findings and Recommendations to which there has been proper objections. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).

         B. Summary judgment standard

         "The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

         Material facts are those which may affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute as to a material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. If the moving party meets its initial responsibility, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue of fact exists. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).

         C. Motion to dismiss standard

         A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is proper only when the complaint either (1) lacks a cognizable legal theory or (2) fails to allege sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory. Zixiang Li v. Kerry, 710 F.3d 995, 999 (9th Cir. 2013). To survive a motion to dismiss, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."' Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         III. ...


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