Harris v. Arizona Board of Regents et al

Filing 78

ORDER denying 77 Motion for Reconsideration and 76 Motion to Vacate/Set Aside/Withdraw/Reassign Case. Plaintiff shall file no further motions in this case. Signed by Judge David G Campbell on 9/19/17.(DXD)

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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 Russell Harris, No. CV16-04029 PHX DGC Plaintiff, 10 ORDER 11 v. 12 Arizona Board of Regents, et al., 13 Defendants. 14 15 Plaintiff asks the Court to reconsider its order granting Defendants’ motion to 16 17 dismiss. Doc. 77. The Court will deny the motion. 18 I. Legal Standard. 19 Courts in this district have identified four circumstances where a motion for 20 reconsideration will be granted: (1) the moving party has discovered material differences 21 in fact or law from those presented to the Court at the time of its initial decision, and the 22 party could not previously have known of the factual or legal differences through the 23 exercise of reasonable diligence; (2) material factual events have occurred since the 24 Court’s initial decision; (3) there has been a material change in the law since the Court’s 25 initial decision; or (4) the moving party makes a convincing showing that the Court failed 26 to consider material facts that were presented to the Court at the time of its initial 27 decision. See, e.g., Motorola, Inc. v. J.B. Rodgers Mech. Contractors, Inc., 215 F.R.D. 28 581, 586 (D. Ariz. 2003). Motions for reconsideration are disfavored, and they are not 1 the place for parties to make new arguments not raised in their original briefs. See Nw. 2 Acceptance Corp. v. Lynnwood Equip., Inc., 841 F.2d 918, 925-26 (9th Cir. 1988). 3 II. Discussion. 4 Plaintiff first argues that the Superior Court decision could not have given rise to 5 claim preclusion because it was a dismissal for lack of jurisdiction. Plaintiff also argues 6 that the dismissal was not final. 7 Defendants’ motion that the state-court dismissal was for lack of subject matter 8 jurisdiction (see Doc. 45 at 4) and cannot raise that argument for the first time in this 9 motion for reconsideration. Second, the state-court dismissal was not necessarily for lack 10 of subject matter jurisdiction. Defendants argued that Arizona State University (“ASU”) 11 has discretion to determine whether a student’s academic performance meets program 12 standards and has no legal duty to retain a student whose performance is deficient. 13 Doc. 23-1 at 3. Defendants also argued that ASU’s decision was not subject to review 14 under the Administrative Review Act (Doc. 23-1), but the Court did not mention that 15 argument in its ruling (Doc. 23-2 at 5-6). 16 expressly a final judgement under Rule 54(c) of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure. 17 See Doc. 23-2 at 6. First, Plaintiff did not argue in his response to Third, the Superior Court decision was 18 Second, Plaintiff argues that the Court incorrectly stated that he sued four ASU 19 employees in state court when he actually sued only one. Plaintiff explains that state- 20 court documents naming four employees did not count because they never became the 21 operative complaint in state court. Even if this is true, the basis for the Court’s ruling 22 was not dependent on the number of employees sued in state court. The Court noted that 23 Plaintiff sued the state employees in state court and this Court in their official capacities, 24 and that “ASU employees sued in their official capacities will necessarily be in privity 25 with one another and with Defendant ASU.” Doc. 73 at 4. 26 Third, Plaintiff argues that the Court should have applied the test for claim 27 preclusion in Garity v. APWU National Labor Org., 828 F.3d 848, 855 (9th Cir. 2016). 28 The Court does not agree. “It is now settled that a federal court must give to a state-court -2- 1 judgment the same preclusive effect as would be given that judgment under the law of the 2 State in which the judgment was rendered.” Migra v. Warren City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ., 3 465 U.S. 75, 81 (1984); accord Ayers v. City of Richmond, 895 F.2d 1267, 1270 (9th Cir. 4 1990). The Court appropriately looked to Arizona law to determine the preclusive effect 5 of the state-court decision. 6 But even if the Court had applied Garity – which Plaintiff did not cite in his claim- 7 preclusion argument in this Court (Doc. 45 at 4-5) – the result would have been the same. 8 To determine if there is an identity of claims, Garity looked to four factors: (1) whether 9 the two suits arise out of the same transactional nucleus of facts, (2) whether rights or 10 interests established in the prior judgment would be destroyed or impaired by prosecution 11 of the second action, (3) whether the two suits involve infringement of the same right; 12 and (4) whether substantially the same evidence is presented in the two actions. 828 F.3d 13 at 855. These factors show that claim preclusion was properly applied here. First, this 14 case and the state-court case clearly arose from the same transactional nucleus of 15 operative facts – Plaintiff’s termination from the ASU master’s program for reasons 16 allegedly related to his mental disability. Second, the state court held that Plaintiff could 17 not maintain his suit, and did so in the face of Plaintiff’s ADA arguments and his request 18 for $500,000 in damages. Doc. 71-1 at 5-8. Defendants’ victory in that case would be 19 destroyed or impaired if Plaintiff were permitted to raise the same issues in this court. 20 Third, the two suits concerned the same right – Plaintiff’s claim that he should have been 21 permitted to continue in the master’s program as “a mentally handicapped student.” 22 Doc. 71-1 at 7. Fourth, substantially the same evidence applied in both actions. Plaintiff 23 argued in state court that he “suffers from a mental disability and requested 24 accommodations for his disability,” and that he was terminated from the ASU program 25 for complaining about the lack of accommodations. Id. at 4. Substantially the same facts 26 are at issue here – Plaintiff claims that he is disabled and was retaliated against for 27 asserting his rights. Doc. 35 at 1. 28 -3- 1 Fourth, Plaintiff argues that he was wrongly denied an opportunity to amend his 2 complaint. But Plaintiff had already filed three complaints in this case (Docs. 1, 26, 35) 3 and had proposed a fourth (Doc. 67), none of which stated a claim that was not barred by 4 claim preclusion. 5 Fifth, Plaintiff argues that the Court acted improperly when it required him to 6 provide the Court with a copy of his state-court response to the state-court motion to 7 dismiss. Plaintiff contends that the Court should have reviewed his motion to withdraw 8 that document and should have recused itself from this case. See Doc. 76. Plaintiff’s 9 motion to withdraw argued that the Court was without justification in requiring the state- 10 court document to be filed. Clearly this is incorrect. The Court needed Plaintiff’s state- 11 court filing in order to identify the issues that were litigated in state court, and acted 12 entirely within its authority in requiring Plaintiff to file it. There is no basis for recusal. 13 Finally, Plaintiff asserts that the Court acted improperly in ordering him to stop 14 sending emails to and calling chambers. See Doc. 72. Plaintiff’s abusive communications 15 with the Court’s staff were entirely inappropriate, and the Court acted properly in 16 ordering him to communicate with the Court only through filings in the docket. 17 IT IS ORDERED: 18 1. Plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration (Doc. 77) is denied. 19 2. Plaintiff’s motion to vacate/set aside/withdraw/reassign/recuse (Doc. 76) is denied. 20 21 3. Plaintiff shall file no further motions in this case. 22 Dated this 19th day of September, 2017. 23 24 25 26 27 28 -4-

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