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United States v. Real Property and Improvements Located at 2366

United States District Court, N.D. California

September 25, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
REAL PROPERTY AND IMPROVEMENTS LOCATED AT 2366 SAN PABLO AVENUE, BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT AND ENTERING FINAL JUDGMENT AGAINST CLAIMANT CITY OF BERKELEY Re: ECF No. 137

JON S. TIGAR, District Judge.

Now before the Court is Claimant City of Berkeley's unopposed motion for entry of final judgment brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b). ECF No. 137. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will GRANT the motion.

I. BACKGROUND

In its June 23, 2014 order, the Court granted the United States' motion to strike Claimant City of Berkeley from this forfeiture action for lack of standing. ECF No. 130. As a basis for its standing, the City asserted an interest in tax proceeds generated by the medical cannabis dispensary that operated on the property subject to forfeiture ("Property"). ECF No. 16. The City also asserted an interest in its ability to regulate and control medical cannabis dispensaries located within its jurisdiction. Id . The Court found that the City of Berkeley's interest in the Property was insufficient to confer on the City standing to proceed here. ECF No. 130. While the City is no longer part of this action, Claimants Nahla Droubi (the owner/lessor of the Property) and Berkeley Patients Group (the lessee) remain in the action and challenge the Property' forfeiture.

On July 7, 2014, the City of Berkeley filed the instant motion for entry of final judgment pursuant to Rule 54(b). The City contends that, if the Court grants the motion, the City will be able immediately to appeal the issue of standing, and thereby to preserve the City's interests and, if successful, seek redress in this Court. ECF No. 137 at 1-2. On July 22, 2014, the United States filed a statement of non-opposition to the City's motion. ECF No. 145.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

In relevant part, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) provides: "when multiple parties are involved [in an action], the court may direct entry of a final judgment as to one or more, but fewer than all... parties only if the court expressly determines that there is no just reason for delay."

The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted Rule 54(b) to require a district court facing a Rule 54(b) motion, first, to determine whether the motion concerns a final judgment. Curtiss-Wright Corp. v. General Elec. Co. , 446 U.S. 1, 7-8 (1980). A judgment is final for the purposes of Rule 54(b) when it "terminates the litigation between the parties... and leaves nothing to be done but to enforce by execution what has been determined." Parr v. United States , 351 U.S. 513, 518 (1956).

After a district court has determined whether a judgment is final, it must determine whether, in its discretion, any "just reason for delay" exists. The court does so by balancing judicial administrative interests and the equities involved. Curtiss-Wright , 446 U.S. 8, 10. In particular, a court should "consider such factors as whether the claims under review [a]re separable from the others remaining to be adjudicated and whether the nature of the claims already determined was such that no appellate court would have to decide the same issues more than once even if there were subsequent appeals." Id. at 8.

III. DISCUSSION

The instant motion meets the standards for entry of final judgment under Rule 54(b).

A. Finality of Judgment

The Court's order granting the United States' motion to strike the City of Berkeley for lack of standing disposed of all claims between the City and the United States in this action. The City is no longer a participant here, and "nothing [remains] to be done but to enforce by execution what [the Court has] determined." ...


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