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Randall v. Maxwell & Morgan, P.C.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

July 25, 2018

Shannon K. Randall, Plaintiff,
v.
Maxwell & Morgan, P.C., an Arizona professional corporation, Rebecca Easton and Ryan Daniel Easton, Defendants.

          ORDER

          JAMES A. TEILBORG SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court are Defendants Maxwell & Morgan, P.C., Rebecca Easton, and Ryan Daniel Easton's (“Defendants”) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, (Doc. 45), Plaintiff Shannon K. Randall's (“Plaintiff”) Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. 46), and Defendants' Motion to Strike Portions of the Plaintiff's Reply in Support of the Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. 56).

         I. Background

         Plaintiff is a resident of Pinal County and is employed by the Casa Grande Elementary School District. (Doc. 46 at 2.) Plaintiff owned her primary residence, which was located in Pinal County, until it was foreclosed upon in 2010. (Id.) As the owner of her primary residence, Plaintiff was obligated to pay homeowners' assessments to her homeowners' association (the “Association”). (Id.) After Plaintiff failed to pay her homeowners' assessments, an action was filed against her by the Association in the Casa Grande Justice Court of Pinal County. (Doc. 45 at 3-4.) The Association was granted summary judgment in that action against Plaintiff. (Id. at 4.) The judgment awarded, among other things, the unpaid homeowners' assessments and “all reasonable costs and attorneys' fees incurred by [the Association] after entry of this judgment in collecting the amounts awarded therein.” (Id.)

         On January 31, 2017, Defendants commenced a garnishment action on behalf of the Association (the “Garnishment Action”) by filing an Application for Garnishment in the Maricopa County Superior Court against Plaintiff's employer, the Casa Grande Elementary School District. (Doc. 46 at 2.) The Garnishment Action sought payment of the amount adjudged due, “including attorney fees and costs as may be awarded by [the] Court.” (Doc. 45 at 4.) Defendants also filed an Application for Amount of Attorney Fees, a China Doll Affidavit in support of the Fee Application, and a statement of costs in the Garnishment Action to seek court approval of the fees and costs identified in the Application for Garnishment. (Id.)

         On February 8, 2017, the Maricopa County Superior Court issued a Writ of Garnishment to Plaintiff's employer. (Id.) Plaintiff's employer submitted an Answer of Garnishee, and on February 21, 2017, the Maricopa County Superior Court approved the application for fees and statement of costs. (Id.)

         On March 9, 2017, Plaintiff objected to and moved to quash the Writ of Garnishment and vacate the order approving the application for attorneys' fees and statement of costs on the grounds that they were filed in an improper venue. (Id. at 5.) The Maricopa County Superior Court denied the objection and both motions. (Id.)

         On November 22, 2017, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint, (Doc. 37). (Id.) In it, Plaintiff alleges that, by commencing a garnishment action and requesting post-judgment fees and costs in Maricopa County, Defendants violated § 1692i of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that under § 1692i, Defendants were required to file the garnishment action and supporting papers in Pinal County. (Id.)

         On March 12, 2018, Defendants filed the pending Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings requesting that this Court grant judgment in favor of Defendants on all claims. (Id. at 11.) Plaintiff filed a brief in opposition to the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, (Doc. 51), as well as a Motion for Summary Judgment. Defendants filed a brief in opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. 52), as well as a Motion to Strike Portions of Plaintiff's Reply in Support of the Motion for Summary Judgment.

         II. Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

         A. Legal Standard

         A motion for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 12(c) is “functionally identical” to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Cafasso, U.S. ex rel. v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1055 n.4 (9th Cir. 2011). Therefore, “the same standard of review applies to motions brought under either rule, ” id., and “[a] judgment on the pleadings is properly granted when, taking all the allegations in the pleadings as true, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, ” Nelson v. City of Irvine, 143 F.3d 1196, 1200 (9th Cir. 1998) (citing McGann v. Ernst & Young, 102 F.3d 390, 392 (9th Cir. 1996)).

         To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim, a complaint must meet the requirements of Rule 8. Rule 8 requires that a pleading contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To meet this standard, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, ‘to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). To have facial plausibility, a complaint must include “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. This analysis is “context-specific” and is driven by “judicial experience and common sense.” Id. at 679.

         In deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court must construe the facts alleged in the complaint “in the light most favorable” to the plaintiff. Schlegel v. Wells Fargo Bank, 720 F.3d 1204, 1207 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Autotel v. Nev. Bell Tel. Co., 697 F.3d 846, 850 (9th Cir. 2012)); see also Cafasso, 637 F.3d at 1053 (“When considering a Rule 12(c) dismissal, we must accept the facts as pled by the nonmovant”). This same presumption, however, is not extended to legal conclusions: “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678. Rule 8 “requires a ‘showing,' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief.” Twombley, 550 U.S. at 555 (citing 5 Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1202 (3d ed. 2004)).

         B. ...


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