Patel et al v. Maricopa, County of et al

Filing 70

ORDER: 47 Defendants' (Maricopa County, Arpaio, Sands, Trombi, Brackman, and McGuire) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings is GRANTED with respect to Plaintiff's malicious prosecution cause of action and otherwise DENIED. See order for complete details. Signed by Judge Neil V Wake on 2/27/12. (NKS)

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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 No. CV 11-01489-PHX-NVW Sunita Patel, Plaintiff, 10 11 vs. 12 ORDER Maricopa County, et al., Defendants. 13 14 15 Before the Court is “Defendants’ (Maricopa County, Arpaio, Sands, Trombi, 16 Brackman, and McGuire) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings” (Doc. 47). For the 17 reasons stated below, the motion will be granted as to Plaintiff’s malicious prosecution 18 cause of action and otherwise denied. 19 I. LEGAL STANDARDS 20 A. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) Standard 21 “Rules 12(b)(6) and 12(c) are substantially identical.” Strigliabotti v. Franklin 22 Resources, Inc., 398 F. Supp. 2d 1094, 1097 (N.D. Cal. 2005). Rule 12(c) motions for 23 judgment on the pleadings are therefore reviewed under the standard applicable to a Rule 24 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. See Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 25 1089, 1093 (9th Cir. 1980). In ruling on a Rule 12(c) motion, the Court must “determine 26 whether the facts alleged in the complaint, to be taken for [the purposes of a Rule 12(c) 27 motion] as true, entitle the plaintiff to a legal remedy.” Strigliabotti, 398 F. Supp. 2d at 28 1097. “If the complaint fails to articulate a legally sufficient claim, the complaint should 1 be dismissed or judgment granted on the pleadings.” Id. A Rule 12(c) motion is thus 2 properly granted when, taking all the allegations in the pleading as true, the moving party 3 is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Knappenberger v. City of Phoenix, 566 F.3d 4 936, 939 (9th Cir. 2009). 5 B. 6 Arizona law requires that 7 [p]ersons who have claims against a public entity or a public employee shall file claims with the person or persons authorized to accept service for the public entity or public employee as set forth in the Arizona rules of civil procedure within one hundred eighty days after the cause of action accrues. The claim shall contain facts sufficient to permit the public entity or public employee to understand the basis upon which liability is claimed. The claim shall also contain a specific amount for which the claim can be settled and the facts supporting that amount. Any claim which is not filed within one hundred eighty days after the cause of action accrues is barred and no action may be maintained thereon. 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 Arizona Notice of Claim Standard A.R.S. § 12-821.01(A). “For purposes of this section,” the statute continues, “a cause of action accrues when the damaged party realizes he or she has been damaged and knows or reasonably should know the cause, source, act, event, instrumentality or condition which caused or contributed to the damage.” Id. § 12-821.01(B). Although this definition of accrual is “[f]or purposes of [§ 12-821.01],” Arizona courts have concluded that the state legislature intended this definition to mirror that of the typical “discovery rule” — or in other words, it does not differ from accrual of the cause of action for purposes of statutes of limitations. Stulce v. Salt River Project Agric. Improvement & Power Dist., 197 Ariz. 87, 90, 3 P.3d 1007, 1010 (Ct. App. 1999). II. ANALYSIS Defendants claim that Plaintiff’s notice of claim contained nothing about her causes of action for malicious prosecution, negligent training and supervision, respondeat superior, or state law violation of due process. 26 27 28 -2  1 A. 2 Defendants’ first argument, directed at all four challenged causes of action, is that, 3 “[u]nlike her other claims, for which she provided a [settlement] dollar amount, Plaintiff 4 failed to specify a dollar amount for [the challenged claims]. This by itself is dispositive 5 of this issue.” 6 requirement that “[t]he claim shall also contain a specific amount for which the claim can 7 be settled and the facts supporting that amount,” A.R.S. § 12-821.01(A), but they 8 otherwise cite no authority for their argument. If correct, Defendants’ argument would 9 conflict with authority that claimants need not plead legal theories, but only facts. Yollin 10 v. City of Glendale, 219 Ariz. 24, 32, 191 P.3d 1040, 1048 (Ct. App. 2008) (“the statute 11 requires only facts, not theories, to support the claim”). In other words, if a claimant 12 must make a settlement demand for each cause of action arising from the facts alleged in 13 her notice of claim, to the exclusion of any lawsuit on a legal theory fairly discernible 14 from those facts but not specifically stated in the notice of claim, then the claimant must 15 indeed plead legal theories — contradicting Arizona authority. Absent some authority 16 justifying an otherwise incongruous result, Defendants’ argument fails. Settlement Demand (Doc. 66 at 2.) Defendants rely on the notice of claim statute’s 17 B. 18 A malicious prosecution claim “accrues when the prior proceedings have 19 terminated in [the plaintiff’s] favor.” Owen v. Shores, 24 Ariz. App. 250, 251, 537 P.2d 20 978, 979 (1975). That is the earliest point at which “the damaged party [can] realize[] he 21 or she has been damaged.” A.R.S. § 12-821.01(B). Here, that point did not arrive until 22 after Plaintiff filed her notice of claim. She did not file a second notice of claim within 23 180 days of successful termination of the prosecution against her. 24 prosecution claim is therefore barred. 25 26 27 28 C. Malicious Prosecution The malicious Negligent Training and Supervision; Respondeat Superior; and State Law Violation of Due Process (Ariz. Const. art. II § 4) The remaining claims are adequately disclosed in Plaintiff’s notice of claim. Although she does not assert them specifically, each one is fairly implied by the conduct -3  1 she challenges. Her repeated invocation of “employment” in the “Legal Basis for 2 Claims” section (see Doc. 47-1 at Part II) fairly discloses negligent training/supervision 3 and respondeat superior (if such causes of action exist in this context). And the entire 4 notice of claim, if believed, suggests a potential due process violation. Accordingly, 5 these claims will not be dismissed. 6 III. INTERNATIONAL LAW 7 Defendants seek to dismiss any claim Plaintiff may be asserting based on 8 international law. Plaintiff responds that she asserts no claim under international law, but 9 only offers it for its analytical value. Thus clarified, there is nothing for the Court to 10 dismiss. 11 IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that “Defendants’ (Maricopa County, Arpaio, 12 Sands, Trombi, Brackman, and McGuire) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings” (Doc. 13 47) is GRANTED with respect to Plaintiff’s malicious prosecution cause of action and 14 otherwise DENIED. 15 Dated this 27th day of February, 2012. 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 -4 

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