Simmons, et al. v. Navajo County, et al.

Filing 209

ORDER that Plaintiffs' 206 motion to set aside judgment is granted in part and denied in part. The judgment entered on February 6, 2010 (Doc. 197) is vacated to the extent it applies to the state law claims asserted by Plaintiffs. The Clerk is directed to remand this action to state court. Signed by Judge David G Campbell on 09/15/10. (Attachments: # 1 Remand Letter) (ESL)

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Simmons, et al. v. Navajo County, et al. Doc. 209 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 WO IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA Wesley Simmons and Sharon Simmons, ) ) husband and wife, ) ) ) Plaintiffs, ) ) vs. ) ) Navajo County, et al., ) ) Defendants. ) ) No. CV-06-701-PCT-DGC ORDER In an order dated February 6, 2008, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. Doc. 196. The Clerk entered judgment the same day. Doc. 197. Plaintiffs appealed (Doc. 199), and in an opinion filed June 23, 2010, the Ninth Circuit vacated this Court's summary judgment order as to the state claims but affirmed in all other respects (Doc. 205-1). The mandate issued July 15, 2010. Doc. 205. Plaintiffs have filed a motion to set aside judgment. Doc. 206. The motion is fully briefed. Docs. 207, 208. Oral argument has not been requested. For reasons stated below, the Court will vacate the judgment as to the state claims and remand the case to state court. Plaintiffs claim that negligence and civil rights violations caused their son's death while he was detained at the Navajo County Jail. Plaintiffs filed suit in state court against Navajo County and its Board of Supervisors, the County Sheriff, nine officers employed at the jail, and jail medical staff personnel. Doc. 1 at 8-28. Counts one through six of the Dockets.Justia.com 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 complaint assert state law negligence claims (id. 88-99), counts seven through nine assert constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C. 1983 (id. 100-06), and counts ten and eleven assert claims of disability discrimination under the ADA and state law (id. 107-14). Defendants removed the case to this Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. Doc. 1 at 1-3. The Court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants Stump, Robinson, Ratcliff, Nabors, Crandell, and Peterson on the ground that Plaintiffs had made no showing of a triable issue with respect to the alleged liability of those officers. Doc. 196 at 2-3. Plaintiffs did not appeal this aspect of the Court's order, nor do they argue that the judgment should be vacated in this regard. See Docs. 207 at 2, 208 at 2.1 The Ninth Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment on the section 1983 claims (Doc. 205-1 at 8-15) and the ADA disability discrimination claim (id. at 15-18). The judgment in favor of Defendants on those claims will not be vacated. The Court granted summary judgment on the remaining state law claims on the ground that Plaintiffs' notice of claim was legally deficient under A.R.S. 12-821.01 in that it failed to provide sufficient facts supporting the request for $20,000,000. Doc. 196 at 4-6. After the Court's decision, the Arizona Supreme Court clarified the standard for determining whether a plaintiff's notice of claim has sufficiently alleged factual support for the claimed amount. See Backus v. State of Arizona, 203 P.3d 499, 505 (Ariz. 2009) (en banc). The Ninth Circuit, therefore, vacated the Court's summary judgment order as to the state claims and remanded for reconsideration in light of Backus. Doc. 205-1 at 20. The Court concludes that the corresponding judgment should likewise be vacated. The Court will vacate the judgment to the extent it applies to the state claims. In remanding the case, the Ninth Circuit stated that should the Court "decline to The Ninth Circuit opinion does not address this part of the summary judgment order, noting instead that "Officers Stump, Robinson, Ratcliff, Nabors, Crandell, and Peterson . . . were initially named in the complaint but dismissed from suit prior to summary judgment." Doc. 205-1 at 6 n.1. -2- 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims, it may remand those claims to state court for further proceedings, including the application of Backus in the first instance." Id. With the elimination of federal claims, the basis for this Court's federal question jurisdiction no longer exists. Under the relevant statute, 28 U.S.C. 1367(c)(3), the Court may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state claims. The Supreme Court has instructed that "in the usual case in which all federal-law claims are eliminated before trial, the balance of factors . . . will point toward declining to exercise jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims." Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 350 n. 7 (1988) (citing United Mine Workers of America v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726 (1966)). The Court concludes that this action should be remanded. Only state law claims remain. Resolution of those claims will require application of the Arizona Supreme Court's decision in Backus. Arizona state courts have a greater interest and expertise in resolving state law claims and applying state court decisions. Additionally, remand will benefit the federal system by allowing this Court to devote its scarce resources to resolving federal issues. IT IS ORDERED: 1. Plaintiffs' motion to set aside judgment (Doc. 206) is granted in part and denied in part. 2. The judgment entered on February 6, 2010 (Doc. 197) is vacated to the extent it applies to the state law claims asserted by Plaintiffs. 3. The Clerk is directed to remand this action to state court. DATED this 15th day of September, 2010. -3-

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