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J.P.T. Automotive, Inc. v. Toyota Motor Sales

September 14, 2009

J.P.T. AUTOMOTIVE, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
TOYOTA MOTOR SALES, U.S.A., INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Seybert, District Judge

ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

The Court is in receipt of Magistrate Judge E. Thomas Boyle's Report and Recommendation ("R&R" or "Report"), which recommended that Plaintiff's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction be denied. Plaintiff has objected to this Report and Recommendation. For the foregoing reasons, the Court finds Plaintiff's objections to be without merit and ADOPTS Magistrate Judge Boyle's R&R in its entirety. As a result, the Court sua sponte lifts the Temporary Restraining Order it imposed on January 21, 2009.*fn1

BACKGROUND

The Report sets forth the facts of this case in a thorough manner, and therefore, the Court will not recite them in detail. See 09-CV-0204, Docket No. 53 (E.D.N.Y. Jun. 3, 2009). In summary: Plaintiff is an automobile dealer, and Defendant's former franchisee. In the course of its business, Plaintiff experienced severe financial problems, which led it to fall behind on numerous accounts, lose financing from lenders, and submit fraudulent odometer statements to a credit company. In response to Plaintiff's numerous breaches of its franchise agreement, Defendant notified Plaintiff that it intended to terminate it. The parties subsequently agreed to extend the franchise agreement's termination date until January 19, 2009.

On January 20, 2009, one day after its franchise agreement terminated, Plaintiff commenced this action. On January 21, 2009, the Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order which, as a practical matter, revived the terminated franchise agreement, enabling Plaintiff to continue operating its business over the past several months. On June 3, 2009, Magistrate Judge Boyle issued an R&R which recommended that Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction be denied.

On June 20, 2009, Plaintiff filed objections to Magistrate Judge Boyle's Report. Specifically, Plaintiff argues that Magistrate Judge Boyle erred in finding that: (1) Plaintiff's liabilities exceed its assets; (2) Plaintiff's franchise agreement terminated on January 19, 2009, which was Martin Luther King Day, rather than January 20, 2009; (3) Plaintiff was not entitled to an "automatic" injunction under the New York Franchised Motor Vehicle Dealer Act ("FMVDA"); (4) Plaintiff was not entitled to a preliminary injunction under federal law. Each of Plaintiff's objections is without merit.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

"When evaluating the report and recommendation of a magistrate judge, the district court may adopt those portions of the report to which no objections have been made and which are not facially erroneous." Walker v. Vaughan, 216 F. Supp. 2d 290, 291 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) (citation omitted). A party may serve and file specific, written objections to a magistrate's report and recommendation within ten days of receiving the recommended disposition. See FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b). Upon receiving any timely objections to the magistrate's recommendation, the district "court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings and recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1)(C); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). A party that objects to a report and recommendation must point out the specific portions of the report and recommendation to which they object. See Barratt v. Joie, No. 96-CV-324, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3453, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. March 4, 2002) (citations omitted).

When a party raises an objection to a magistrate judge's report, the Court must conduct a de novo review of any contested sections of the report. See Pizarro v. Bartlett, 776 F. Supp. 815, 817 (S.D.N.Y. 1991). But if a party "makes only conclusory or general objections, or simply reiterates his original arguments, the Court reviews the Report and Recommendation only for clear error." Pall Corp. v. Entegris, Inc., 249 F.R.D. 48, 51 (E.D.N.Y. 2008). Furthermore, even in a de novo review of a party's specific objections, the court ordinarily will not consider "arguments, case law and/or evidentiary material which could have been, but [were] not, presented to the magistrate judge in the first instance." Kennedy v. Adamo, 02-CV-1776, 2006 WL 3704784, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. 2006).

Here, Plaintiff's objections consist of nothing more than reiterating its original arguments before Magistrate Judge Boyle, coupled with a few general or conclusory allegations. Therefore, the Court reviews the Report for clear error. The Court notes, however, that a de novo review would also have led to it adopting the Report in its entirety.

II. Plaintiff's Objections

A. Magistrate Judge Boyle did not err in Finding that Plaintiff's Liabilities Exceeded its Assets

Plaintiff first argues that Magistrate Judge Boyle made a factual error in finding that Plaintiff's liabilities exceeded its assets. Specifically, Plaintiff argues that Magistrate Judge Boyle erred by "failing to take into account the testimony of the plaintiff [sic] expert witness," who testified that Plaintiff's business had $2-3 million in goodwill value, and instead crediting the Defendant's expert witness, who found that Plaintiff's business had no goodwill value. Pl. Obj. Br. at 2-3. At a minimum, Plaintiff argues, questions concerning ...


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