United States District Court, D. Arizona
G. Campbell United States District Judge.
case has been pending for almost one year. Four different
complaints have been filed. Docs. 1, 57, 60, 141. In the most
recent second amended complaint, Plaintiff Jesus Gomez, in
his capacity as guardian for Catalina Gomez, filed a
complaint with a federal cause of action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Doc. 141. Plaintiff relies on this federal claim
to trigger supplemental jurisdiction over her remaining
state-law claims. Id. ¶ 14 (citing 28 U.S.C.
§ 1367). As the Court previously noted, it will first
consider the viability of this federal claim before
addressing arguments regarding the dismissal of state-law
claims against various Defendants. Doc. 140.
Maricopa County Public Fiduciary, Maricopa County
Attorney's Office, Andrea Cummings, and Jennifer Murphy
(collectively, “County Defendants”) have moved
for judgment on the pleadings on the § 1983 claim. Doc.
164. The motion is fully briefed, and no party requests oral
argument. For the reasons that follow, the Court will dismiss
the § 1983 claim and decline to exercise jurisdiction
over the remaining state-law claims.
purposes of this motion, Plaintiff's factual allegations
are accepted as true. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009). Catalina Gomez stands at the factual heart
of this case. In connection with an ongoing
conservatorship/guardianship matter brought in Maricopa
County Superior Court (PB2015-091767), Ms. Gomez was found
incompetent. Doc. 141 ¶ 15. Shortly before this finding
of incompetence, Ms. Gomez executed a deed of trust on a
commercial parcel she owned located at 202 E. Broadway Road
in Mesa, Arizona (the “Property”), in return for
a $175, 000 loan. Id. ¶¶ 19-20.
March 24, 2016, the probate court appointed the Maricopa
County Public Fiduciary (“MCPF”) as temporary
conservator of Ms. Gomez's estate. Id.
¶¶ 31-32; Doc. 164-1 at 3. MCPF employee Jennifer
Murphy handled the estate with the help of Andrea Cummings
from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office
(“MCAO”). Id. ¶¶ 33-34. On
April 25, 2016, the beneficiary of the deed of trust, Dafni
LLC, recorded a notice of trustee's sale on the Property.
Id. ¶ 21; Doc. 164-1 at 16; Doc. 170-1 at 45.
On May 16, 2016, the County Defendants filed an emergency
motion to stay this sale for 180 days (Doc. 164-1 at 11), and
the probate court addressed the motion at a June 16, 2016,
evidentiary hearing. Doc. 141 ¶¶ 37, 39; Doc. 170-2
at 41. The County Defendants did not make an oral argument at
the hearing (id. ¶ 42), but the court later
prohibited sale of the Property without its prior approval.
Doc. 164-1 at 46; Doc. 170-2 at 58.
6, 2016, the probate court replaced the County Defendants
with a permanent conservator, Southwest Fiduciary, Inc.
Id. ¶ 16. On September 30, 2016, the
trustee's sale occurred and Dafni purchased the Property
with a credit bid of $179, 118.16. Id. ¶ 22. On
October 4, 2016, the trustee executed a deed conveying the
Property to Dafni. Id. ¶ 23.
Fiduciary subsequently filed an initial inventory and
appraisement of Ms. Gomez's estate, which estimated the
value of the Property at $290, 800. Id. ¶¶
18-19; Doc. 164-1 at 83. It also identified the deed of trust
on the Property securing a $175, 000 loan. Doc. 141
¶¶ 18-19. These figures suggest that Ms. Gomez had
more than $100, 000 equity in the Property, but sale of the
Property for a credit bid effectively eliminated any equity.
See Id. ¶¶ 19-20, 22, 27.
alleges that the County Defendants failed to take any action
to avoid the trustee's sale. Id. ¶ 26.
Plaintiff asserts a claim against the County Defendants
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 under this theory:
“the Plaintiff was deprived of her property and
valuable property rights, including, among other things, her
property and due process rights under the Fourteenth
Amendment to the United States Constitution, in violation of
the Constitution, and other Federal laws.” Id.
12(c) is functionally identical to Rule 12(b)(6) and the same
standard applies to motions brought under either rule.
Cafasso v. United States ex. rel. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys.,
Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1055 (9th Cir. 2011). Thus, a
successful Rule 12(c) motion must show either that the
complaint lacks a cognizable legal theory or fails to allege
facts sufficient to support its theory. Balistreri v.
Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir.
1988). A complaint that sets forth a cognizable legal theory
will survive a motion for judgment on the pleadings as long
as it contains “sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
Scope of Review.
County Defendants ask the Court to take judicial notice of
several exhibits, which they characterize as public records.
Doc. 164 at 3 n.3. A court may not consider evidence outside
the pleadings unless it converts the Rule 12(c) motion into a
Rule 56 motion for summary judgment and gives the nonmovant
an opportunity to respond. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); United
States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 907 (9th Cir. 2003). A
court may, however, consider matters of judicial notice
without converting the motion into one for summary judgment.
See Northstar Fin. Advisors, Inc. v. Schwab Invs.,
779 F.3d 1036, 1042 (9th Cir. 2015); Ritchie, 342
F.3d at 908. The Ninth Circuit has explained:
Courts may only take judicial notice of adjudicative facts
that are “not subject to reasonable dispute.”
Fed.R.Evid. 201(b). Facts are indisputable, and thus subject
to judicial notice, only if they are either “generally
known” under Rule 201(b)(1) or “capable of
accurate and ready determination by resort to ...