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Lea v. United States Department of Agriculture

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

February 6, 2018

COREY LEA, Petitioner,

          Alistair E. Newbern Hon. J.



         I. Introduction

         This case challenges the United States Department of Agriculture's (“USDA”) alleged failure to protect Petitioner from foreclosure by a private bank that held 90% of the mortgage on Petitioner's property. Petitioner, Cory Lea (“Petitioner” or “Lea”) maintains the USDA violated the 2008 farm bill legislation by not enforcing a foreclosure moratorium to halt proceedings instituted against him. Lea filed a petition under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. § 701, et seq., related to (1) the USDA's “fail[ure] [to] act on [t]he 2008 Farm Bill and the [foreclosure] moratorium relief it provided in 7 C.F.R 766.358” for borrowers, and (2) “an accepted discrimination complaint still unresolved [at] the USDA's Office of Civil Rights.” Dkt. 1, Pg. ID 2, ¶ 1-2.

         Respondent USDA filed a motion to dismiss, Dkt. 22, to which Petitioner responded in opposition. Dkt. 23. Pending before the Court is Magistrate Judge Alistair E. Newbern's Report and Recommendation (“R&R”), which recommends the Court grant Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, dismiss the Petition, and deny Lea's additional pending motions as moot. See Dkt. 33. Lea filed Objections to the Magistrate's R&R. Dkt. 34.

         For the reasons outlined below, Petitioner's objections are OVERRULED; the R&R is ADOPTED; Defendants' motion to dismiss is GRANTED; and Plaintiff's Motions (Dkts. 31 and 32) are DENIED AS MOOT.

         II. Background

         The relevant facts in this case were summarized in Magistrate Judge Newbern's R&R, and those facts are adopted for purposes of this order. See Dkt. 33, Pg. IDs 215-20.

         III. Standard of Review

         Any party may object to and seek review of an R&R, but must act within fourteen days of service of the R&R. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). Failure to file specific objections constitutes a waiver of any further right of appeal. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985). Filing objections that raise some issues but fail to raise others with specificity will not preserve all objections a party has to an R&R. Willis v. Secretary of HHS, 931 F.2d 390, 401 (6th Cir. 1991). The district court must make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c).

         Only those objections that are specific are entitled to a de novo review under the statute. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 606, 637 (6th Cir. 1986). “The parties have the duty to pinpoint those portions of the magistrate's report that the district court must specially consider.” Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). A general objection, or one that merely restates the arguments previously presented, does not sufficiently identify alleged errors on the part of the magistrate judge. An “objection” that does nothing more than disagree with a magistrate judge's determination, “without explaining the source of the error, ” is not considered a valid objection. Howard v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991).

         Specific objections enable the Court to focus on the particular issues in contention. Howard, 932 F.2d at 509. Without specific ob- jections, “[t]he functions of the district court are effectively duplicated as both the magistrate and the district court perform identical tasks. This duplication of time and effort wastes judicial resources rather than saving them, and runs contrary to the purposes of the Magistrate's Act.” Id. “[O]bjections disput[ing] the correctness of the magistrate's recommendation but fail[ing] to specify the findings [the objector] believed were in error” are too summary in nature. Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 380 (6th Cir. 1995) (alterations added).

         IV. Analysis

         The gravamen of Lea's complaint is that “the [USDA] and the secretary failed to enforce its own rules and regulations and an Act of Congress that provided moratorium relief against foreclosure until a hearing on the merits by the Administrative Law Judge.” Dkt. 1, Pg. ID 6. The statute at issue provides a moratorium under certain circumstances on foreclosure proceedings “instituted by the Department of Agriculture.” See 7 U.S.C.A. ยง 1981a(b)(1). However, in this case the foreclosure proceedings were ...

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