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Maguire v. Coltrell

United States District Court, D. Arizona

February 4, 2015

Robert D. Maguire, Plaintiff,
Cathleen A. Coltrell, et al., Defendants.


DAVID G. CAMPBELL, District Judge.

Defendants Cathleen Coltrell and John Carmichael have filed a counterclaim for civil extortion against Plaintiff Robert Maguire, alleging violations of A.R.S. § 13-1804(6). Doc. 38 at 10. Plaintiff moves to dismiss the counterclaim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), asserting that it is barred by the statute of limitations. Doc. 34. The motion is fully briefed and no party seeks oral argument. The Court will grant the motion.

I. Background.

Defendants assert the following facts in their answer to Plaintiff's amended complaint. Doc. 38. In January 2006, Plaintiff and Coltrell began living together at a house Coltrell owned (the "Justine House"). Id. at 1. Plaintiff immediately began to pay Coltrell $1, 500 per month, which Coltrell used in part to retire the mortgage that encumbered the house. Id. Plaintiff and Coltrell agreed to a "reasonable cost-sharing aspect to the arrangement when [Plaintiff] moved into the Justine House." Id. at 2.

In 2008, Plaintiff suffered the failure of a business, and certain personal property was recorded in Coltrell's name. Id. In 2009, Coltrell purchased another property (the "Milton House") where both Plaintiff and Coltrell "took an active part" of negotiations and renovation oversight. Id. While attempting to obtain financing to purchase the Milton House, a third party's legal action against Plaintiff's ex-wife damaged Plaintiff's credit score and Coltrell agreed to purchase the Milton House solely in her name. Id. Plaintiff contributed financially to the purchase of the Milton House. Id. at 3. Plaintiff claims he provided $104, 000 toward the $160, 000 down payment. Id. In July of 2009, Plaintiff and Coltrell moved into the Milton House following its renovation. Id.

In February of 2013, while Plaintiff was out of the country, Coltrell notified him by telephone that she had met another man, Defendant John Carmichael, and that she intended to pursue a relationship with him. Id. Following Plaintiff's return to Arizona, Coltrell asked Plaintiff to move out of the Milton House. Id. Shortly after Plaintiff moved out, Coltrell and Carmichael were married. Id.

On March 10, 2013, Coltrell received an email from Plaintiff in which she claims he accepted her settlement offer of $25, 000 to resolve all of his claims and right to payment. Id. at 7, 17. Coltrell paid Plaintiff the $25, 000. Id. at 7.

On April 11, 2013, Coltrell received another email from Plaintiff (the "April 2013 email") demanding further payment of $50, 987.86. Id. at 10, 19. The April 2013 email threatened to distribute personal and private information about Coltrell unless she paid the demand by April 29, 2013. Id. In response, Coltrell's attorney sent Plaintiff a letter informing him that Coltrell was represented by counsel and instructing him not to contact her directly again. Doc. 40 at 24.

Coltrell sold the Justine House for $412, 000 in June of 2013, and the Milton House for $800, 000 in September of 2013. Doc. 38 at 4-5. In December of 2013, Plaintiff hired attorney David Carmichael on the recommendation of another attorney. Doc. 41-1 at 2. On April 1, 2014, Plaintiff's attorney sent a demand letter directly to Coltrell. Doc. 40 at 4. The letter requested an accounting of assets and expressed hope that the matter could be settled without litigation. Id. at 18.

On May 7, 2014, Plaintiff brought this action against Defendants in Maricopa County Superior Court. Doc. 1. Defendants removed the action to this Court and filed their answer and counterclaims. Id.; Doc. 4. Plaintiff has amended his complaint once. Doc. 33. Defendants have amended their answers and counterclaims twice. Docs. 7, 38.

II. Legal Standard.

"[T]he statute of limitations defense... may be raised by a motion to dismiss... [i]f the running of the statute is apparent on the face of the complaint." Jablon v. Dean Witter & Co., 614 F.2d 677, 682 (9th Cir. 1980) (citing Graham v. Taubman, 610 F.2d 821 (9th Cir. 1979)). The "complaint cannot be dismissed unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts that would establish the timeliness of the claim.'" Hernandez v. City of El Monte, 138 F.3d 393, 402 (9th Cir. 1998) (quoting Supermail Cargo, Inc. v. United States, 68 F.3d 1204, 1206 (9th Cir. 1995)).

III. Analysis.

Plaintiff asserts that Defendants' civil extortion counterclaim was filed beyond the one-year statute of limitations in A.R.S. § 12-541(5). Doc. 34. Defendants do not dispute that a one-year limitation period applies. See Doc. 40. The April email, which serves as the basis of Defendants' civil extortion claim, was sent on April 11, 2013. Doc. 38 at 10. Defendants first ...

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