United States District Court, D. Arizona
Honorable John J. Tuchi United States District Judge.
issue are four Motions to Dismiss (Docs. 9, 12, 15, 52) and a
Joinder (Doc. 21) filed by Defendants in this matter, to
which Plaintiffs filed two Responses (Docs. 36, 56) and the
moving Defendants filed Replies (Docs. 41, 43, 44, 57). The
Court resolves the Motions without oral argument.
See LRCiv 7.2(f).
to the Complaint (Doc. 1-1 at 6-18, Compl.), Plaintiff
Richard Rynn appears pro se in this matter on behalf
of both himself and M.R., his minor daughter. Rynn names 14
Defendants in the Complaint: Arizona Department of Economic
Security (“DES”); Arizona Department of Child
Safety (“DCS”); DES Director Cara Christ; DCS
Director Gregory A. McKay; employees of these agencies Cathee
Cottee, Maria Rojas, Sarah Ferrell, Candy Zammit,
Christine Miles; La Frontera Arizona EMPACT-SPC
(“EMPACT”); EMPACT's employees Renee Miller
and Nathan Thorpe; UHS of Phoenix, LLC d/b/a Quail Run
Behavioral Health; and Desert Vista Behavioral Health
Complaint, Rynn alleges that, on an unspecified date, he and
his wife checked their daughter M.R. into Quail Run for
treatment of an anxiety disorder. After between seven and ten
days passed, they went to retrieve M.R., who was under an
order from her doctor to be discharged. At the discharge
meeting, Quail Run employees asked to keep M.R. for three
more days, to which Rynn's wife agreed but he did not.
Quail Run did not discharge M.R.
Rynn and his wife went downstairs to inquire about M.R.'s
extended stay, Zammit said she was calling the police and
DCS. When DCS arrived, Zammit reported that Rynn
“threatened to kill them all, ” which Rynn
denied. DCS took custody of M.R. and did not return her to
on behalf of himself and M.R., sued Defendants in state
court, and Defendants removed the action to this Court. Rynn
raises six claims against all Defendants grouped together:
(1) interference with parent/child relational interest; (2)
intentional infliction of emotional distress; (3) wrongful
imprisonment; (4) violation of civil rights under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 (“§ 1983”); and (5) and (6)
negligence. The moving Defendants now ask the Court to
dismiss all of the claims against them by way of four
Motions: Quail Run joined by Zammit (collectively,
“Quail Run”) (Doc. 9, QR MTD; see also
Doc. 21); Desert Vista (Doc. 12, DV MTD); and two Motions by
EMPACT, Miller and Thorpe (collectively,
“EMPACT”) (Doc. 15, EMPACT 1st MTD; Doc. 52,
EMPACT 2d MTD).
complaint must include “only ‘a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief,' in order to ‘give the defendant 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)); see also Fed. R. Civ. P.
8(a). A dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim can be based on either
(1) the lack of a cognizable legal theory or (2) insufficient
facts to support a cognizable legal claim. Balistreri v.
Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir.
1990). “While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion does not need detailed factual allegations, a
plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds'
of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than
labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). The
complaint must thus 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
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “[A] well-pleaded
complaint may proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge that
actual proof of those facts is improbable, and that
‘recovery is very remote and unlikely.'”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 (quoting Scheuer v.
Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)).
Rynn's Pro Se Appearance
moving Defendants argue that Rynn cannot act as lawyer for
his daughter, M.R., and the Court agrees. (E.g., QR
MTD at 9-10.) A party may represent himself in federal court,
even if he is not a licensed attorney. 28 U.S.C. § 1654.
And, as Rynn argues, a parent may act as a “next
friend” to sue on behalf of a minor child. Fed.R.Civ.P.
17(c)(2). But a non-attorney parent cannot act as an attorney
for his child, even if the parent is appearing on behalf of
the child as “next friend.” Johns v. Cty. of
San Diego, 114 F.3d 874, 876 (9th Cir. 1997) (holding
“a non-attorney parent must be represented by counsel
in bringing an action on behalf of his or her child”
(quoting Meeker v. Kercher, 782 F.2d 153, 154 (10th
Cir. 1986))). The Court will thus require Rynn to obtain
licensed counsel to proceed with the claims of his daughter
in this Court. If Rynn does not obtain counsel, he may
proceed in this action only on behalf of himself and his own
claims, not those of M.R.
Failure to Plead with Requisite Particularity
begin with, Rynn's Complaint is deficient under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 8, because it does not adequately
distinguish between the 14 Defendants in terms of their
alleged conduct; indeed, the only specific conduct alleged in
the Complaint is that of Quail Run and Zammit-who allegedly
reported to DCS that Rynn “threatened to kill them
all”-and DCS-who allegedly did not return M.R. to her
parents. A plaintiff may not collectively accuse multiple
defendants of committing misdeeds through the expedience of
the title “Defendants.” Such group pleading fails
to comply with Rule 8(a)(2) because it does not give fair
notice of the claims against each Defendant with the
requisite specificity. Riehle v. Bank of America, N.
A., No. CV-12-00251-PHX-NVW, 2013 WL 1694442, at *2 (D.
Ariz. Apr. 18, 2013). For this initial reason, the Court will
dismiss the entire Complaint.
Court also notes that Count 6, for negligence, appears to be
duplicative, because it is a copy ...