Howard v. RJF Financial LLC

Filing 43

ORDER that Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 42 ) is denied. The lawsuit shall remain closed. Signed by Judge G Murray Snow on 2/6/2012.(KMG)

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1 WO 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA 8 9 Leslie Howard, Plaintiff, 10 11 vs. 12 RJF Financial, LLC, 13 Defendant. 14 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) No. CV-11-1213-PHX-GMS ORDER 15 16 17 18 19 Pending before the Court is Plaintiff’s Motion to Reconsider. (Doc. 42). For the reasons stated below, the motion is denied. BACKGROUND 20 On October 12, 2006, the Agua Fria Justice Court in Maricopa County resolved a 21 claim brought by Defendant RJF Financial (“RJF”) against Plaintiff Leslie Howard in favor 22 of RJF and entered a judgment of $12,487.98. (Doc. 27, Ex. 5, No. CC2006-069913). 23 Howard filed a lawsuit in the District of Arizona on June 21, 2011, claiming among other 24 things that RJF had violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) by bringing 25 the original claim. (Doc. 1). The Court ruled that the suit was barred by the Rooker-Feldman 26 doctrine, which holds that decisions by state courts are res judicata to challenges in the 27 federal court. See In re Gruntz, 202 F.3d 1074, 1078 (9th Cir. 2000) (“[F]ederal district 28 courts have no authority to review the final determinations of a state court in judicial 1 proceedings”) (internal quotations omitted). Plaintiff now files a motion for reconsideration, 2 stating, among other things, that he “has not made any claim against the judgment. The 3 Plaintiff’s claims were made against the Defendant’s claim.” (Doc. 42, emphasis omitted). 4 DISCUSSION 5 1. Legal Standard 6 Under Rule 59(e), a motion for reconsideration may be granted only on one of four 7 grounds, “1) the motion is necessary to correct manifest errors of law or fact upon which the 8 judgment is based; 2) the moving party presents newly discovered or previously unavailable 9 evidence; 3) the motion is necessary to prevent manifest injustice or 4) there is an intervening 10 change in controlling law.” Turner v. Burlington N. Santa Fe R.R. Co., 338 F.3d 1058, 1063 11 (9th Cir. 2003) (internal quotations and emphasis omitted). Motions for reconsideration are 12 disfavored and are not the place for parties to make new arguments not raised in their original 13 briefs and arguments. See Northwest Acceptance Corp. v. Lynnwood Equip., Inc., 841 F.2d 14 918, 925-26 (9th Cir. 1988). Nor should such motions ask the Court to “rethink what the 15 court has already thought through—rightly or wrongly.” United States v. Rezzonico, 32 F. 16 Supp. 2d 1112, 1116 (D. Ariz. 1998) (quoting Above the Belt, Inc. v. Mel Bohannon Roofing, 17 Inc., 99 F.R.D. 99, 101 (E.D. Va. 1983)). 18 2. Analysis 19 Plaintiff cites Kougasian v. TMSL, Inc., 359 F.3d 1136, (9th Cir. 2004) for the 20 proposition that Rooker-Feldman does not apply when “wrongful acts of the defendants were 21 responsible for the court’s erroneous judgment.” (Doc. 42 at 7). As the Court noted in its 22 previous order, Kougasian acknowledges an exception to Rooker-Feldman when a Plaintiff 23 alleges that a state court decision is based on “extrinsic fraud.” Kougasian, 359 F.3d at 1140. 24 The fraud in Kougasian involved a false declaration submitted to a state court, and upon 25 which the state court relied. Id. Plaintiff here alleges no fraud at the state court level; indeed, 26 as noted in the previous order, “Plaintiff continued to pursue the case in the trial court after 27 the default judgment,” bringing many of the same arguments he raises here, which the trial 28 court rejected. (Doc. 40). Plaintiff alleges that the previous action was improper because it -2- 1 was a violation of the FDCPA and because it was untimely under Arizona law because credit 2 card accounts are “open accounts” under Arizona Revised Statutes (“A.R.S.”) § 12-543(2). 3 These arguments were available to him at the state court proceeding. 4 Plaintiff alleges that he is bringing the case against RJF for collecting the debt, not 5 against the state court for ruling in RJF’s favor, and that the action is therefore not a 6 “forbidden de facto appeal.” Noel v. Hall, 341 F.3d 1148, 1154 (9th Cir. 2003). The decision 7 by the state court in RJF’s favor resolved the issues in the claim in RJF’s favor. Challenging 8 those underlying issues is challenging the state court’s decision. A federal suit brought by 9 a state-court defendant containing allegations that were or could have been raised in the 10 original state court suit is a de facto appeal, and precisely what Rooker-Feldman prohibits. 11 See Exxon-Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Co., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005) (Rooker- 12 Feldman prohibits suits by those “complaining of injuries caused by state-court judgments 13 rendered before the district court proceedings commenced and inviting district court review 14 and rejection of those judgments”). 15 Rooker-Feldman bars this suit. Plaintiff’s Motion for Reconsideration asks the Court 16 to “rethink what the court has already thought through.” Rezzonico, 32 F. Supp. 2d at 1116. 17 The motion is denied. 18 IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 19 42) is denied. The lawsuit shall remain closed. 20 DATED this 6th day of February, 2012. 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 -3-

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