An out-of-state bank is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Oregon farmers who seek compensation for the lost value of their radish seed.
Northwest Bank of Warren, Pa., had previously alleged the radish seed grown by the farmers served as collateral for a loan to a defunct seed broker.
However, that claim was rejected by a federal judge, who found the bank didn’t have a security interest in the seed, allowing the farmers to sell it.
While the litigation was ongoing, however, the farmers claim the crop lost value and they had to pay for additional storage costs, prompting them to file a complaint seeking $6.7 million in damages.
The lawsuit filed by the Radish Seed Growers Association was put on hold while Northwest Bank sought to convince the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that it actually did own the radish seed.
After the 9th Circuit rejected the bank’s arguments, the litigation was reactivated and now the parties have submitted new legal arguments to the court.
Despite its loss in the 9th Circuit, Northwest Bank argues it had reasonably believed that it owned a security interest in the seed, so its earlier lawsuit was not frivolous.
Unless the farmers can show there was no probable cause for the earlier lawsuit, the bank’s claims are protected by the “absolute litigation privilege” that allows parties to make certain allegations in court, according to the bank.
The bank also argues that some of the growers’ claims must fail because the bank didn’t have possession of the seed and because their claims are prohibited by an Oregon law that protects parties pursuing their constitutional rights.
The Radish Seed Growers Association, on the other hand, argues the lawsuit should now proceed because the case has already survived a motion to dismiss by the bank.
There’s no reason to revisit the bank’s arguments as it “could not have lost more clearly or decisively” on appeal, which was the only reason the case was stayed, the farmers claim.