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United States of America v. Sierra Pacific Industries; et al

June 4, 2012

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SIERRA PACIFIC INDUSTRIES; ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



ORDER

This matter comes before the court on plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment on affirmative defenses. (ECF 351.) This matter was heard on February 10, 2012; Kelli Taylor appeared for plaintiff and William Warne appeared for defendants. For the following reasons, plaintiff's motion is hereby granted in part and denied in part.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff filed the original complaint in this case on August 31, 2009. (ECF 1.)

On May 26, 2010, plaintiff filed the operative second amended complaint against defendants Sierra Pacific Industries ("SPI"); W.M. Beaty and Associates, Inc. ("Beaty"); Eunice E. Howell individually and doing business as Howell's Forest Harvesting Company (together, "Howell"); and Landowners.*fn1 (ECF 53 ¶¶ 5-8.) The second amended complaint alleges seven (7) causes of action: 1) negligence against all defendants; 2) liability under the Fire Liability Law, California Health & Safety Code §§ 13007-13009.1 & Civil Code §§ 3287 & 3288 against all defendants;

3) negligence and negligence per se under 14 Cal. Code Regs. § 938.8 & the Fire Protection Plan against all defendants; 4) trespass by fire against all defendants; 5) negligent supervision against SPI, Beaty, landowners, and Eunice Howell; 6) negligent hiring against SPI, Beaty, and landowners; and 7) interest and penalties against all defendants. (Id.)

Beaty and Landowners filed their answers to the second amended complaint on June 10, 2010 (ECF 54 & 55 respectively); Howell and SPI filed their answers to the second amended complaint on June 15, 2010 (ECF 56 & 57 respectively).

Plaintiff filed the present motion for partial summary judgment on January 12, 2012. (ECF 351.) Defendants filed their joint opposition on January 27, 2012. (ECF 384.)*fn2

Plaintiff filed its reply on February 3, 2012. (ECF 392.)

II. ANALYSIS

A. Standard

A court will grant summary judgment "if . . . 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). The "threshold inquiry" is whether "there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986).*fn3

The moving party bears the initial burden of showing the district court "that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party, which "must establish that there is a genuine issue of material fact . . . ." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585 (1986). In carrying their burdens, both parties must "[cite] to particular parts of materials in the record [or show] that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support that fact." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c)(1); see also Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586 ("[the nonmoving party] must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts"). Moreover, "the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact . . . . Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48.

In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court draws all inferences and views all evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587-88; Whitman v. Mineta, 541 F.3d 929, 931 (9th Cir. 2008). "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita, 475 ...


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