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Pike v. State

United States District Court, D. Arizona

August 14, 2018

Anthony Pike, Plaintiff,
v.
State of Arizona, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Bridget S. Bade United States Magistrate Judge

         Defendants State of Arizona and Jennifer Bryner (collectively “Defendants”) have filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Arizona Revised Statutes §§ 12-821, 12-821.01.[1](Doc. 8.) The motion is fully briefed. (Docs. 21, 23.) As set forth below, the Court grants the motion to dismiss as to the federal claim asserted in Count Four and remands the remaining state laws claims to the Maricopa County Superior Court.

         I. Background

         On January 19, 2018, Plaintiff filed his Complaint against Defendants in the Maricopa County Superior Court. (Doc. 1-1 at 4-10.)[2] The Complaint alleges state law claims against the State of Arizona for malicious prosecution (Count One), gross negligence (Count Two), and negligent infliction of emotional distress (Count Three). (Compl. ¶¶ 26-9.)[3] The Complaint also alleges a federal malicious prosecution claim against Defendant Bryner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count Four).[4] (Id. at ¶¶ 46-53.) Defendants removed the Complaint to this Court on May 18, 2018, invoking this Court's original jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal claim and supplemental jurisdiction over his state law claims. (Doc. 1 at 1-3.)

         The Complaint alleges that in 2014, Defendant Bryner, an officer with the Arizona State University Police Department (“ASUPD”), was assigned to investigate the alleged theft of several video games from the home of a victim identified as “C.K.” (Id. at ¶¶ 13-16.) C.K. told ASUPD officers, including Bryner, that a man named Juan Manuel Aranda had stolen the video games on the night that she met him. (Id. at ¶¶ 11-15.) C.K. told ASUPD officers she believed that Aranda was on the wrestling team for a college in Iowa and she identified his photograph on a Facebook page associated with the college wrestling team. (Id. at ¶ 15.) She also gave the police officers screen shots of text messages she exchanged with Aranda in which he admitted to the theft. (Id. at ¶¶ 14, 15.) The text messages included Aranda's mobile phone number. (Id. at ¶ 15.) Defendant Bryner or other ASUPD officers viewed the Facebook photograph and then looked at the wrestling website for the Iowa college. (Id. at ¶ 16.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Bryner saw a photograph of a wrestler on that website and concluded that it was Aranda when in fact it was Plaintiff. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that for “inexplicable reasons” Defendant Bryner concluded that Pike was an alias for Aranda. (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Bryner failed to show the photograph from the Iowa college website to C.K. for identification, contact the Iowa college, investigate the phone number from C.K.'s text messages with Aranda, or check outside databases to confirm that the person in the photograph had a connection to the alleged crime. (Id. at ¶ 17.) Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Bryner or other ASUPD employees requested that the Maricopa County Attorney's Office (“MCAO”) file a criminal complaint charging him with various criminal offenses. (Id. at ¶ 19.) The MCAO filed a criminal complaint in 2014 charging Plaintiff with burglary and theft. (Id.) On September 15, 2016, Plaintiff made an initial appearance in the Maricopa County Superior Court in relation to the criminal charges. (Doc. 8, Ex. 1.) At the initial appearance, Plaintiff was appointed a public defender, pleaded not guilty, and was released on his own recognizance. (Id.) On October 28, 2016, the Maricopa County Grand Jury returned an indictment formally charging Plaintiff with burglary and theft. (Compl. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff alleges that ASUPD Officer Craig Mancini “falsely testified” at the grand jury proceedings that C.K. had identified Plaintiff as the person who had stolen her video games. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he “suffered considerable stress upon learning that he was facing criminal charges, ” in defending those charges, and in dealing with the negative impact of those charges on his efforts to gain employment. (Id. at ¶ 21.)

         On January 19, 2017, the MCAO moved to dismiss the criminal matter. (Id. at ¶ 22.) The MCAO stipulated that Plaintiff did not commit the crimes charged in the indictment and that his arrest was wrongful. (Id. at ¶ 23.) The criminal case against Plaintiff was dismissed on January 20, 2017. (Id. at ¶ 25.) Plaintiff filed a notice of claim with the State on July 5, 2017. (Doc. 8, Ex. 2.) Plaintiff filed his Complaint on January 19, 2018. (Doc. 1-1 at 3-10.) Defendants move to dismiss the Complaint in its entirety.

         II. Standard for Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss

         When a defendant files a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court construes the complaint in the plaintiff's favor. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007). The court presumes that all well-pleaded allegations are true, resolves all reasonable doubts and inferences in the plaintiff's favor, and views the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id. at 555. Although “detailed factual allegations” are not necessary to meet the plaintiff's pleading requirement, the plaintiff must, at a minimum, set forth factual allegations sufficient “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         On review of a motion to dismiss, the court may generally only consider allegations in the pleadings, exhibits attached to the complaint, and matters that are subject to judicial notice. Jacobson v. Schwarzenegger, 357 F.Supp.2d 1198, 1204 (C.D. Cal. 2004). However, “the court may consider a writing referenced in a complaint but not explicitly incorporated therein if the complaint relies on the document and its authenticity is unquestioned.” Swartz v. KPMG LLP, 476 F.3d 756, 763 (9th Cir. 2007).[5]

         III. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

         Defendants move to dismiss the Complaint on the following grounds: (1) Plaintiff's federal claim of malicious prosecution fails to state a claim; (2) Plaintiff's state law claim of malicious prosecution fails to state a claim; and (3) Plaintiff's state law claims for negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress are barred because Plaintiff's notice of claim and Complaint were not timely filed under Arizona law. (Doc. 8.) Plaintiff disputes these assertions. (Doc. 21.)

         A. Malicious Prosecution Claims

         In Count One, Plaintiff asserts a state law malicious prosecution claim against the State. (Compl. ¶¶ 26-32.) Under Arizona law, a malicious prosecution claim exists when a defendant “(1) instituted a civil action which was (2) motivated by malice, (3) begun without probable cause, (4) terminated in plaintiff's favor, and (5) damaged plaintiff.” Bradshaw v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 758 P.2d 1313, 1319 (Ariz. 1988). For purposes of a malicious prosecution under Arizona law, the element of malice can be proven by showing that the defendant used the action for “a primary purpose other ...


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