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Moros v. Kimble

United States District Court, D. Arizona

June 8, 2018

Eduardo Moros, Plaintiff,
v.
Stephen Kimble, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Honorable Raner C. Collins, Chief United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Doc. 47 For the following reasons, this Court shall grant the motion.

         Standard of Review

         A court must grant summary judgment if the pleadings and supporting documents, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, “show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Substantive law determines which facts are material, and “[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In addition, the dispute must be genuine, that is, “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

         There is no issue for trial unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the non-moving party; if the evidence is merely colorable or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50. However, because “[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of evidence, and the drawing of inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge . . . [t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor” at the summary judgment stage. Id. at 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505.

         Background

         In April 1990, the parties signed an agreement formalizing the division of income and expenses associated with the joint development of a web shooting toy that simulated the fictional superhero Spider-Man's ability to shoot spider webs from his palm. Doc. 48-4. The parties dispute who actually invented the toy, but the parties agree that Moros would be listed as a co-inventor on the patent. Doc. 50 at 3.

         In August 1990, Plaintiff moved to Wisconsin. Doc. 49 at 5. In 1992, Defendants mailed Plaintiff a newspaper article that stated Kimble “received a U.S. patent for his invention, ” that Kimble and Grabb accrued nearly $10, 000 in expenses and that two companies were interested in developing the toy. Doc. 48-10. The newspaper article was also accompanied with a letter. Doc. 48-12. In the letter, Kimble stated that he “had some initial success” but needed help convincing Marvel and Toy Biz that there was a market for the toy. Kimble requested that Moros make three phone calls to the local paper, Marvel and Toy Biz.

         After receiving the letter, Moros made no attempt to either pay his share of the expenses or inquire as to what Kimble meant by having “had some initial success.”

         In 1997, Toy Biz released the “Web-Blaster, ” a toy that had similarities to the toy at issue in this case. Toy Biz previously rejected the design Kimble and Grabb submitted. In 2001, Kimble and Grabb reached a settlement with Marvel, the owner of Toy Biz, stemming from the patent infringement of the web shooter. In May 2016, Moros filed his complaint, alleging, among other things, breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and conversion. This Court previously dismissed Moros's unjust enrichment claim. Doc. 20.

         Discussion

         Plaintiff alleges that his breach of contract claim survives the limitations period because the discovery rule should be applied to his complaint.

         A claim for a breach of contract has a limitations period of six years. A.R.S. § 12-548. Generally, a cause of action accrues and the statute of limitations begins to run when one party is able to sue another. See Gust, Rosenf Gust, Rosenfeld & Henderson v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 182 Ariz. 586, 587, 898 P.2d 964, 965 (Ariz. 1995).

However, under the “discovery rule, ” when the injury or the act causing the injury has been difficult for the plaintiff to detect, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the plaintiff knows or with reasonable diligence should know of the facts underlying the alleged breach. The discovery rule is premised on the notion that “it is unjust to deprive a plaintiff of a ...

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