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United States v. Talmage

United States District Court, D. Utah, Northern Division

December 13, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
RONALD B. TALMAGE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO DISMISS

          David Nuffer United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff United States of America filed a motion (the “Motion”)[1] to dismiss the counterclaim[2] of Defendants Western Land & Livestock LLC and Western Reserve Mortgage LLC (collectively, the “Western Entities”) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and failure to join a necessary party.[3] For the reasons stated below, the Motion1 is granted in part and denied in part.

         BACKGROUND

         The United States commenced this lawsuit to reduce to judgment federal tax assessments against Defendants Ronald B. Talmage and Annette C. Talmage and to foreclose federal tax liens against certain real property (the “Liberty Property”) in which the Western Entities assert an interest.[4] Unlike the Talmages, who failed to appear or defend themselves in this case, [5] the Western Entities filed a counterclaim, which asserts two causes of action against the United States.[6] The Western Entities' first cause of action seeks to quiet title to the Liberty Property as against the United States only.[7] And their second cause of action seeks civil damages from the United States for not releasing liens affecting the Liberty Property.[8]

         DISCUSSION

         The Western Entities' First Cause of Action

         The United States argues that the Western Entities' first cause of action (quiet title) should be dismissed under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(7) because the Western Entities did not join Liu Hsiu Chen as a party.[9] A person generally must be joined as a party if:

(A) in that person's absence, the court cannot accord complete relief among existing parties; or
(B) that person claims an interest relating to the subject of the action and is so situated that disposing of the action in the person's absence may:
(i) as a practical matter impair or impede the person's ability to protect the interest; or
(ii) leave an existing party subject to a substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations because of the interest.[10]

         As the proponent of the Motion under rule 12(b)(7), the United States “has the burden of producing evidence showing the nature of the interest possessed by [Chen] and that the protection of that interest will be impaired by [her] absence.”[11] Rather than satisfy this burden, the United States concedes that it has no evidence that Chen has an interest in the Liberty Property, [12] and admits that it “has no reason to believe that [Chen] can or would claim an independent interest in the Liberty Property, especially since she appears nowhere in the chain of title.”[13]

         Because the United States has failed to show that Chen is a necessary party to this litigation, the Motion will be denied as to the Western Entities' first cause of action.

         The Western Entities' ...


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