Long v. Estate of Charles Walis Haeger, Oakland County (Michigan) cause number 20-0000396732-DE
ORDER: IT IS ORDERED that by December 9, 2020, Plaintiff shall file an amended complaint in accordance with this order. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that if Plaintiff fails to timely file her amended complaint, the Clerk of the Court shall dismis s this case, without prejudice, for failure to name a cognizable defendant. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that after Plaintiff files her amended complaint, the Clerk of Court shall change the caption of this case to reflect the proper defendant [see attached Order for details]. Signed by Judge Dominic W Lanza on 11/19/20. (MAW)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA
Estate of Charles Walis Haeger, Oakland
County (Michigan) cause number 20200000396732-DE,
On November 17, 2020, Plaintiff Jane Long filed this action, naming as the sole
Defendant “The Estate of Charles Wallis Haeger, Oakland County (Michigan) cause
number 2020-0000396732-DE.” (Doc. 1 at 1.) The facts alleged are tragic. According
to the complaint, Charles Haeger shot and killed Plaintiff’s daughter, Danielle Breed,
with whom he had a romantic relationship, and then shot and killed himself. (Id. ¶¶ 2-6.)
After Mr. Haeger’s death, his estate was created in the State of Michigan. (Id. ¶ 7.)
Kelly Okopny is the personal representative of the estate. (Id.)
Plaintiff brings three claims, each of which arises under Arizona law (id. ¶¶ 21-
38), and asserts that this Court “is vested with jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §1331
because of diversity of citizenship and because the value of the claim is more than
$75,000.00” (id. ¶ 18).
Under Arizona law, “[a]n estate is a collection of the decedent’s assets and
liabilities. As such, it has no capacity to bring or defend a lawsuit. Simply put, an estate
cannot ‘act.’ Rather, it can only sue and be sued through its personal representative, who
‘acts’ on behalf of the estate.” Ader v. Estate of Felger, 375 P.3d 97, 104 (Ariz. Ct. App.
2016). Thus, it appears that the proper defendant in this action should be Kelly Okopny,
who should be sued in his or her capacity as the representative of Mr. Haeger’s estate.
See Norwood v. Ariz. Dep’t of Child Safety, 2020 WL 4003263, *2 n.1 (D. Ariz. 2020).
Plaintiff is directed to file an amended complaint naming the proper defendant to
this action.1 Because this Court’s subject-matter jurisdiction rests on the diversity of the
parties, the amended complaint must allege the personal representative’s citizenship
(state of domicile) for diversity purposes. Kanter v. Warner-Lambert Co., 265 F.3d 853,
857 (9th Cir. 2001). The personal representative’s citizenship can be pled on information
and belief. Carolina Cas. Ins. Co. v. Team Equipment, Inc., 741 F.3d 1082, 1087 (9th
Cir. 2014) (allowing plaintiff to plead jurisdictional allegations on information and belief
“where the facts supporting jurisdiction [were] not reasonably ascertainable by the
IT IS ORDERED that by December 9, 2020, Plaintiff shall file an amended
complaint in accordance with this order.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that if Plaintiff fails to timely file her amended
complaint, the Clerk of the Court shall dismiss this case, without prejudice, for failure to
name a cognizable defendant.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that after Plaintiff files her amended complaint,
the Clerk of Court shall change the caption of this case to reflect the proper defendant.
Dated this 19th day of November, 2020.
This amended complaint pursuant to court order will not affect Plaintiff’s right
under Rule 15(a)(1) to later amend once as a matter of course, if she chooses to do so.
See, e.g., Ramirez v. Cty. of San Bernardino, 806 F.3d 1002, 1006-09 (9th Cir. 2015).
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