United States District Court, D. Arizona
HONORABLE JOHN J. TUCHI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
issue is Defendant Sedgwick Claims Management Services,
Inc.'s (“Sedgwick”) Motion for Judgment on
the Pleadings (Doc. 73, Mot.), to which pro se
Plaintiff Jane Joyce Bruer filed a Response (Doc. 87, Resp.)
and Defendant filed a Reply (Doc. 95, Reply).
was terminated from her employment with Phillips Law Group
(“PLG”) in June 2017, after which she filed suit
against several Defendants. (Doc. 44, Am. Compl. ¶ 228.)
At issue here are the three Arizona state law claims that
Plaintiff brought against Defendant Sedgwick for breach of
good faith and fair dealing, invasion of privacy, and breach
of fiduciary duty. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 564-653.) The
Court addressed these claims as brought against a separate
Defendant in its recent Order granting Defendant Ritsema
& Lyon, P.C.'s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 109).
months before her termination, Plaintiff suffered a work
injury to her right knee. (Am. Compl. ¶ 252.) She filed
an injury report, and a workers' compensation claim was
opened with PLG's insurance carrier, Defendant American
Family Insurance. (Am. Compl. ¶ 257.) Sedgwick was the
insurance adjuster on the claim. When Plaintiff was
terminated soon after, her claim was closed. (Am. Compl.
¶ 258.) Plaintiff believed she was entitled to
compensation and thus filed a request for a hearing with the
Industrial Commission of Arizona. (Am. Compl. ¶ 260.)
times, it is difficult to decipher the facts as presented in
Plaintiff's voluminous Complaint, as she alleges various
misdeeds were undertaken by Sedgwick, American Family, and
Ritsema & Lyon, P.C., but it is unclear whether Plaintiff
alleges that all three Defendants were involved in all of the
wrongdoing. As best as the Court can tell, Plaintiff alleges
that she requested her personnel file for her Industrial
Commission hearing, and both Sedgwick and its attorneys at
Ritsema & Lyon were responsible for refusing to provide
Plaintiff with her file. (Am. Compl. ¶ 259.)
Defendants did comply with this request, Plaintiff alleges
that a Defendant (who appears to be an attorney employed by
Ritsema & Lyon) “caused an unsecure .pdf file, with
many pages containing the Plaintiff's social security
number, address, phone number, date of birth and or account
number, without first applying required redactions, to be
transmitted via the internet without password
protection.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 603.) It is this
transmission of her information to her own email account that
Plaintiff relies upon for her invasion of privacy claim. (Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 601-35.) Additionally, Plaintiff alleges
that Defendant breached its fiduciary duty to her by sending
her information via email. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 636-53.)
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), “a party may
move for judgment on the pleadings” after the pleadings
are closed “but early enough not to delay trial.”
A motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c)
challenges the legal sufficiency of the opposing party's
pleadings. Westlands Water Dist. v. Bureau of
Reclamation, 805 F.Supp. 1503, 1506 (E.D. Cal. 1992).
motion for judgment on the pleadings should only be granted
if “the moving party clearly establishes on the face of
the pleadings that no material issue of fact remains to be
resolved and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner
& Co., Inc., 896 F.2d 1542, 1550 (9th Cir. 1989).
Judgment on the pleadings is also proper when there is either
a “lack of a cognizable legal theory” or the
“absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable
legal theory.” Balistreri v. Pacifica Police
Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). In
reviewing a Rule 12(c) motion, “all factual allegations
in the complaint [must be accepted] as true and construe[d] .
. . in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party.” Fleming v. Pickard, 581 F.3d 922, 925
(9th Cir. 2009). Judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c)
is warranted “only if it is clear that no relief could
be granted under any set of facts that could be proved
consistent with the allegations.” Deveraturda v.
Globe Aviation Sec. Servs., 454 F.3d 1043, 1046 (9th
Cir. 2006) (internal citations omitted).
12(c) motion is functionally identical to a Rule 12(b) motion
to dismiss for failure to state a claim, and the same legal
standard applies to both motions. Dworkin v. Hustler
Magazine, Inc., 867 F.2d 1188, 1192 (9th Cir. 1989).
Specifically, a 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). While a complaint does not need to
“contain detailed factual allegations . . . it must
plead enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Clemens v. DaimlerChrysler
Corp., 534 F.3d 1017, 1022 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “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.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
Breach of Good Faith and Fair Dealing
argues that, while “the covenant of good faith and fair
dealing is implied in every insurance contract, ”
Defendant was not a party to any such agreement between
Plaintiff and her insurer and thus the Court must grant
judgment for Defendant on Plaintiff's bad faith claim.
(Mot. at 5.) Plaintiff responds that claims adjusters like
Defendant-even when they are ...