United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
ORDER DENYING JEFFERY DEAN BLACK'S MOTION FOR
ADDITIONAL FINDINGS RE: DKT. NO. 205
H. KOH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
and Counterdefendant Jeffery Dean Black (“Black”)
filed the instant lawsuit against Defendant and
Counterclaimant Irving Materials, Inc.
(“Irving”). Before the Court is Black's
motion for additional findings. ECF No. 205. For the reasons
discussed below, the Court DENIES Black's motion for
instant case, Black asserted a claim for declaratory relief
that Black lacked bad faith and thus did not violate the
Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act
(“ACPA”) pursuant to 15 U.S.C. §
1114(2)(D)(v). ECF No. 199 at 15-16. Black also initially
asserted a claim for reverse domain name hijacking in
violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1114(2)(D)(iv). ECF No. 11 at
10. The Court granted Irving's motion for summary
judgment with respect to this second claim. ECF No. 83 at 5.
asserted two counterclaims: (1) a counterclaim that Black
committed cybersquatting under the ACPA, 15 U.S.C. §
1125(d); and (2) a counterclaim for declaratory relief under
28 U.S.C. § 2201 that Black violated the ACPA.
Id. at 16-17. In response to Irving's
counterclaims, Black asserted several affirmative defenses,
including a Safe Harbor defense under the ACPA and a laches
defense. ECF No. 28.
on June 10, 2019, the Court held a three-day jury trial on
Black's claims and Irving's counterclaims. ECF No.
199 at 19. Following the trial, the jury returned a verdict
in the jury's advisory capacity that Black had proven by
a preponderance of the evidence Black's claim for
declaratory relief that Black did not violate the ACPA.
Id. at 22. The jury also returned a verdict that
Irving had not proven Irving's ACPA counterclaim by a
preponderance of the evidence, which was automatically
dispositive of Irving's counterclaim for declaratory
relief. Id. In light of this verdict, “the
jury did not need to and did not reach questions regarding
Black's Safe Harbor or laches defenses.”
Id. at 23.
Court issued findings of fact and conclusions of law in the
instant case on August 10, 2019. Id. In particular,
the Court held that “the jury's verdict that found
that Irving did not prove its ACPA cybersquatting
counterclaim by a preponderance of the evidence was supported
by substantial evidence.” Id. at 36. As a
consequence of that finding, the Court also found that
“Irving did not prove by a preponderance of the
evidence its counterclaim for declaratory relief that Black
violated the ACPA.” Id. Finally, the Court
found that “Black proved by a preponderance of the
evidence Black's declaratory relief claim that Black
lacked bad faith intent and thus did not violate the
ACPA.” Id. In light of these findings, the
Court enjoined Irving from its efforts to force Black to
transfer the imi.com domain name to Irving, id., and directed
that judgment be entered in favor of Black, ECF No. 200. The
Court did not issue any findings or conclusions with respect
to Black's Safe Harbor defense under the ACPA or
Black's laches defense.
filed the instant motion for additional findings on September
9, 2019. ECF No. 205 (“Mot.”). With the instant
motion for additional findings, Black now requests that the
Court make the additional findings that “Mr. Black
proved by a preponderance of substantial evidence that
Irving's cybersquatting claim is barred both by laches
and by Mr. Black's ACPA ‘good faith' safe
harbor defense.” Id. at 12. On September 23,
2019, Irving opposed the motion, ECF No. 207
(“Opp'n”), and on September 30, 2019, Black
filed a reply, ECF No. 208 (“Reply”).
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(b), “[o]n a
party's motion filed no later than 28 days after the
entry of judgment, the court may amend its findings-or make
additional findings-and may amend the judgment
accordingly.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(b). “Motions under
Rule 52(b) are primarily designed to correct findings of fact
which are central to the ultimate decision; the Rule is
not intended to serve as a vehicle for a
rehearing.” ATS Prods. Inc. v. Ghiorso,
No. 10-4880, 2012 WL 1067547, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 28, 2012)
(emphasis added). In other words, “Rule 52(b) motions
are granted in order to correct manifest errors of law or
fact or to address newly discovered evidence or controlling
case law.” Id.; see also 700 Valencia St.
LLC v. Farina Focaccia & Cucina Italiana, LLC, No.
15-cv-04931-JCS, 2017 WL 4680069 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 18, 2017)
(“Motions under Rule 52(b) are granted in order to
correct manifest errors of law or fact or to address newly
discovered evidence.”). “Furthermore, a motion to
amend a court's factual and legal findings is properly
denied where the proposed additional facts would not affect
the outcome of the case or are immaterial to the court's
conclusions.” ATS Prods. Inc., 2012 WL
1067547, at *1 (citing Weyerhaeuser Co. v. Atropos
Island, 777 F.2d 1344, 1352 (9th Cir. 1985)).
“Rulings on motions to amend findings are committed to
the sound discretion of the district court and will not be
disturbed absent an abuse of that discretion.” 9C
Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal
Practice and Procedure § 2582 (3d. ed. 2018).
discussed in the foregoing, Black requests that the Court
make the additional findings that Black proved by a
preponderance of evidence that Black's Safe Harbor
defense under the ACPA and that Black's laches defense
barred Irving's ACPA cybersquatting counterclaim. Black
files the Rule 52(b) motion “solely for purposes of
assisting Ninth Circuit review in the event Irving appeals
the jury verdict and/or the Court's Judgment.” Mot.
at 12. Black's motion suffers from at least two
independently fatal defects.
Black utterly fails to identify any “manifest errors of
law or fact, ” nor does Black raise the existence of
“newly discovered evidence or controlling case law,
” that would justify amendment of the Court's
findings. ATS Prods. Inc., 2012 WL 1067547, at *1;
see also Gutierrez v. Johnson & Johnson, 743
F.Supp.2d 418, 422 (D.N.J. 2010) (“Plaintiffs do not
contend that the Court committed plain error of law or fact,
and do not offer any newly discovered evidence. . . . The
Court declines to grant plaintiffs' motion under Rule
52(b).”). Black requests, instead, that the Court make
further legal conclusions solely on the basis of the evidence
that was presented at trial and that formed the basis of the
Court's findings of fact. Mot. at 3-4. Indeed, the two
affirmative defenses that Black invokes “were available
and raised at trial, and this reason alone is sufficient to
deny [Black's] Motion.” Sentinel Offender
Servs., LLC v. G4S Secure Sols. (USA) Inc., No.
8:14-cv-298-JLS-JPRx, 2017 WL 3485781, at *2 (CD. Cal. Mar.
the applicability of the two affirmative defenses Black
invokes is immaterial to the outcome of the instant case, and
this reason alone is also sufficient to deny Black's
motion. See Zuniga-Hurtado v. Holder, No.
CV-12-01927-PHX-GMS, 2013 WL 3833212, at *1 (D. Ariz. July
24, 2013) (“[A] motion to amend is properly denied
where the proposed ground would not affect the outcome of the
case or is immaterial to the court's
conclusions.”). Irving failed to prove its
counterclaims by a preponderance of evidence, so any
affirmative defenses that Black may have to those