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Quinn v. Harris

United States District Court, D. Arizona

July 31, 2019

Rodney Ladell Quinn, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Alvin Jerome Harris, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Dominic W. Lanza, United States District Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Alvin Jerome Harris (“Harris”) and Blue Earth Express, LLC (together, “Defendants”) on the claims asserted by Plaintiff Rodney Ladell Quinn (“Quinn”). (Doc. 28.)[1] Also pending is a motion to strike Defendants' notice of non-party at fault. (Doc. 34.)

         This case arises from a May 2016 collision between vehicles driven by Harris and Quinn. (Doc. 28.) Quinn and passenger Jesse Morrison (“Morrison”) (together, “Plaintiffs”) brought the present action against Defendants in May 2018. (Doc. 1.) However, Defendants previously sued Quinn (but not Morrison) in state court over the same collision and secured a default judgment against Quinn.

         Defendants now move for summary judgment under the theory that Quinn's claims in this lawsuit are precluded by the doctrine of res judicata and the Full Faith and Credit Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1738. (Doc. 28.) In response, Quinn argues the default judgment was improperly entered against him in the state-court action because he was never properly served in that case. (Doc. 30.)

         For the following reasons, the Court will grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment, with the proviso that Quinn may seek reconsideration of this ruling if he prevails in his ongoing effort to persuade the state-court judge to vacate the default judgment. The Court also will deny Plaintiffs' motion to strike.

         BACKGROUND

         On May 26, 2016, Quinn and Harris were involved in a collision on I-40 in Coconino County, Arizona. (Doc. 28-3 at 2.) Defendants sued Quinn (and others) in connection with that collision in Coconino County Superior Court, filing their amended complaint in June 2017. (Doc. 28-2.)

         Defendants twice attempted to serve Quinn with their state-court amended complaint by sending a process server to the address in Pasadena, California that Quinn provided at the time of the collision. (Doc. 28-4 at 6.) During the second attempt, on July 18, 2017, the process server spoke with Quinn's mother, who stated that Quinn no longer lived at that address and that she was willing to accept the documents but did not know when she would see Quinn. (Id.) She refused to provide Quinn's updated address. (Id.)

         On August 31, 2017, Defendants filed an “Affidavit of Compliance of Service Through Non-Resident Motorist Act Upon Defendants Rodney L. Quinn and Jane Doe Quinn” with the Coconino County Superior Court. (Doc. 28-4.)

         On May 25, 2018, Plaintiffs filed the present action in this Court. (Doc. 1.) The action stems from the same May 2016 collision. (Id. ¶ 1.)

         On September 4, 2018, Defendants filed their answer, in which they “[a]ffirmatively assert the claim of Plaintiff Quinn is barred by the principles of res judicata based on Plaintiff Quinn's default in Coconino County Superior Court No. CV2017-00032, Alvin J. Harris, Blue Earth Express, LLC and Lancer Insurance Company v. Rodney L. Quinn, et al., in which action Plaintiff Quinn could have raised his compulsory counterclaim relating to his alleged injuries which he asserts herein.” (Doc. 13 ¶ 15.)

         On October 31, 2018, the state court entered a default judgment against Quinn, which became final on November 6, 2018. (Doc. 28-6.)

         On February 1, 2019, Defendants filed a notice of non-party at fault pursuant to Rule 26(b)(5) of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 29.) This notice identifies two such non-parties: (1) “the owner or owners of the animal or animals that caused Plaintiff Quinn to stop or nearly stop on an interstate highway in the presence of following traffic” and (2) Quinn ...


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