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Maguire v. Coltrell

United States District Court, D. Arizona

April 30, 2015

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


DAVID G. CAMPBELL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Robert Maguire has claimed that his former partner, Defendant Cathleen Coltrell, breached an agreement to rent and sell two homes for their mutual benefit. Defendant Coltrell now seeks summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims. Doc. 51. Defendant John Carmichael, who is Coltrell's husband, separately seeks summary judgment on his claim that the Court lacks jurisdiction over him. Doc. 49. The Court will deny Coltrell's motion and grant Carmichael's.[1]

I. Background.

In 2005, Robert Maguire and Cathleen Coltrell began a romantic relationship, and Maguire soon moved into Coltrell's home on Justine Road ("the Justine home"). Docs. 52-1 at 7; 55 at 3.[2] While living there, Maguire contributed $1, 500 a month to help pay down the mortgage for the Justine home and cover common expenses. Doc. 58-2 at 6-10. Maguire claims to have paid $75, 530 to Coltrell over the forty-four months they lived together in the Justine home. Doc. 58-1 at 2. Planning to eventually marry, Maguire and Coltrell signed a prenuptial agreement in February of 2008. Doc. 52-5. Under this agreement, the Justine home was to remain the separate property of Coltrell. Id. at 8. The couple eventually decided not to marry.

In 2009, Maguire claims that he and Coltrell entered into a business partnership or a joint venture. Doc. 52-1 at 10. The impetus for this partnership was the planned purchase of a new home on Milton Lane ("the Milton home"). The understanding was that Maguire would pay $104, 000 of the $160, 000 downpayment on the Milton home, while Coltrell would keep the Justine home and rent it out for income. Doc. 58-1 at 2-3. Maguire claims that "Coltrell agreed that the Justine House and the Milton House would be held by her for our mutual benefit as an income producing property and as an asset for our retirement to be sold at a later time in a much better real estate market." Id. Coltrell disputes the existence of a partnership or joint venture.

The couple moved into the Milton home in 2009. Doc. 58 at 4. Although Maguire claims that the parties initially planned to jointly own the home (Doc. 55 at 5-6), the mortgage for and title to the Milton home were put in Coltrell's name (Doc. 58 at 5). Coltrell then rented out the Justine home. Doc. 58 at 4-5. Maguire and Coltrell lived together at the Milton home until Coltrell ended their relationship in February of 2013. Doc. 55 at 7. Coltrell left Maguire for Defendant John Carmichael, whom she married in Colorado in April of 2013. Id. at 8.

After their breakup, Maguire and Coltrell tried to wind up their financial affairs. In March of 2013, Maguire sent an e-mail in response to an offer from Coltrell: "I will accept the $25k check from you for my contributions into Milton even though I feel that I am coming up way short if you consider what I did for you over the course of our relationship. I don't want anything for that." Doc. 52-3 at 1. Coltrell wrote several checks to Maguire. Docs. 58 at 8-9, 52-4 at 1-5. These checks were insufficient for Maguire, and he sent an e-mail demanding further payments. Doc. 52-7 at 1. Coltrell eventually sold the Justine and Milton homes, and she moved to Colorado to be with Carmichael. Doc. 55 at 7-8.

Maguire filed suit against Coltrell and Carmichael on May 7, 2014. Doc. 1-1 at 5. Maguire brings claims for breach of contract, conversion, accounting, breach of fiduciary duty, and unjust enrichment. Doc. 33. The lawsuit is primarily based on the alleged partnership or joint venture, which Maguire describes as "a business relationship based upon (1) the acquisition of a real property at a price which would allow a future sale at a substantial profit and (2) the maintaining of the ownership of the Justine House as a rental property to generate cash flow." Doc. 55-1 at 1. In essence, Maguire seeks what he believes to be his rightful share from the sale of the Justine and Milton homes. Coltrell and Carmichael have brought numerous counterclaims. Doc. 38; see also Doc. 48 (dismissing counterclaim for civil extortion).

Carmichael argues that this Court lacks jurisdiction over him. Doc. 49. Coltrell seeks summary judgment on all of Maguire's claims. Doc. 51.

II. Summary Judgment.

A party seeking summary judgment "bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, shows "that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Summary judgment is also appropriate against a party who "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit will preclude the entry of summary judgment, and the disputed evidence must be "such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

III. Personal Jurisdiction over Defendant Carmichael.

A. Legal Standard.

"Federal courts ordinarily follow state law in determining the bounds of their jurisdiction over persons." Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 753 (2014). Arizona has authorized its courts to exercise jurisdiction over persons to the maximum extent permitted by the Due Process Clause of the Constitution. See Ariz. R. Civ. P. 4.2(a). Under the Due Process Clause, a federal district court may exercise jurisdiction over a person who does not reside in the forum state if that person has "certain minimum contacts with [the forum state] such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'" Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (citation omitted); see also Walden v. Fiore, 134 S.Ct. 1115, 1121 (2014). The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing personal ...

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