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Black v. Autovest LLC

United States District Court, D. Arizona

December 28, 2015

Christopher Black, Plaintiff,
v.
Autovest LLC, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

HONORABLE JOHN Z. BOYLE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

Pending before the Court are Defendants’ Request for Judicial Notice (Docs. 21-1, 28) and Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Docs. 21, 28). For the reasons below, the Court will grant Defendants’ Request for Judicial Notice and deny their Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.

I. Background

Plaintiff alleges that in February 2008, he purchased a vehicle from, and entered into a Retail Installment Sales Contract and Purchase Money Security Agreement (the Agreement) with, Bill Heard Chevrolet. (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 14, 15.) Bill Heard Chevrolet subsequently assigned the Agreement to Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (Id. ¶ 16.) After Plaintiff fell behind on payments owed under the Agreement, Wells Fargo repossessed the vehicle. (Id. ¶ 17.) Wells Fargo sold the vehicle in 2009, applied the funds from the sale to the balance owed under the Agreement, and subsequently asserted Plaintiff owed a “deficiency balance” under the Agreement. (Id. ¶¶ 18-19.)

Plaintiff further alleges Defendant Autovest claimed that it purchased the Agreement “sometime after default.” (Id. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff asserts Defendant Autovest hired Defendant Fulton Friedman & Gullace to “assist it in collecting” the deficiency on the balance from Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 21.) On May 2, 2014, Defendant Autovest sued Plaintiff in state court in order to collect the balance owed under the Agreement. (Id. ¶ 22; Doc. 21-1.) Plaintiff further asserts that Defendants represented to him that the state court law suit was filed within the applicable statute of limitations and, therefore, timely. (Doc. ¶ 23.) Plaintiff claims, however, that Defendants knowingly filed and litigated the state court action beyond the applicable statute of limitations, ultimately obtaining a default judgment of $30, 221.56 against Plaintiff. (Id. ¶¶ 24-27.)

On April 29, 2015, Plaintiff filed this action, asserting claims against Defendants under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and Arizona common law for unreasonable debt collection and invasion of privacy. (Id. ¶¶ 31-36.) On August 12, 2013, Defendant Autovest filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. 21) and a Request for Judicial Notice in Support of its Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. 21-1). On September 8, 2015, Defendant Fulton Friedman & Gullace, LLP filed a Joinder in both Motions. (Doc. 28.) Defendants argue that they are entitled to judgment on all of Plaintiff’s claims because the claims are (1) barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, [1] and (2) were compulsory counter-claims required to have been brought in the previous state court action. (Doc. 21 at 3-4.) Plaintiff filed a Response in opposition to the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings on September 11, 2015.[2] (Doc. 33.) Defendant Autovest filed a Reply on September 21, 2015. (Doc. 34.) On October 28, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Notice of New Opinion Addressing the Same Legal Issues in Defendants’ Motion for Judgment on Pleadings, providing the Court with Notice and a copy of a recent decision by United States Senior District Judge Roslyn O. Silver in a similar case pending against Autovest and another Defendant. (Doc. 36.)

II. Defendants’ Request for Judicial Notice

Defendants request that this Court take judicial notice of (1) a copy of the Complaint filed on May 2, 2014 in the state court action, (2) a copy of the filed Declaration of Service of Summons, Complaint, Affidavit of Account, Certificate of Compulsory Arbitration in the state court action, and (3) a copy of the judgment entered on December 11, 2014 in the state court action. (Doc. 21-1.)

Under Rule 201 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, a court may take judicial notice of “matters of public record.” Lee v. City of L.A., 250 F.3d 668, 689 (9th Cir. 2001). Further, a trial court must take judicial notice of facts “if requested by a party and supplied with the necessary information.” Fed.R.Evid. 201(c). A fact is appropriate for judicial notice only if it “is not subject to reasonable dispute” in that it is (1) generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court, or (2) capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to “sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.” Fed.R.Evid. 201(b).

Here, Defendants have provided the Court with the necessary information regarding these public documents and the documents are not subject to reasonable dispute. Plaintiff does not contend otherwise. Therefore, the Court will grant Defendants’ request for judicial notice.

III. Legal Standard Applicable to Motions for Judgment on the Pleadings

Under Rule 12(c), a party may move for judgment on the pleadings “[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). A motion for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) is “functionally identical” to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss; thus “the same standard of review applies to motions brought under either rule.” Cafasso, U.S. ex rel. v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1055 n.4 (9th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation omitted). To survive a Rule 12(c) motion, a complaint must meet the requirements of Rule 8(a)(2). Rule 8(a)(2) requires a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” so that the defendant has “fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). A complaint must also contain sufficient factual matter, which, if accepted as true, states a claim to relief that is “plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, (2009). “[L]abels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The Court must accept all factual allegations in the Complaint as true. Coal for ICANN Transparency, Inc. v. VeriSign, Inc., 611 F.3d 495, 501 (9th Cir. 2009).

IV. Discussion

Defendants argue that Plaintiff’s claims are barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and are compulsory counterclaims that must have been brought in the previous state court action. ...


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