Quinn v. Cardenas, No. 1 CA-CV 22-0398 (App. Div. I, August 1, 2023) (J.Catlett) https://www.azcourts.gov/Portals/0/OpinionFiles/Div1/2023/1%20CA-CV%2022-0398%20Quinn.pdf
WHERE ESSENTIAL FACTS SUPPORTING FEDERAL COURT SUMMARY JUDGMENT ARE ESSENTIAL TO PROVING STATE COURT CLAIMS, DOCTRINE OF ISSUE PRECLUSION REQUIRES DISMISSAL OF STATE COURT CLAIMS IN STATE COURT
Plaintiff and defendant got into an altercation after a minor traffic accident. Unbeknownst to the plaintiff, the defendant was an off-duty Phoenix Police Officer. The defendant ultimately pulled his service revolver and detained the plaintiff until on duty officers could arrive.
Plaintiff sued the defendant in state court alleging 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (for excessive force), and three state law claims for assault, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The defendant removed the case to federal court. The three critical factual allegations to support the § 1983 claim was that the defendant “impact pushed” the plaintiff, pulled his gun announcing he was a police officer and ordered plaintiff to remain in her car until on-duty officers arrived.
The district court judge granted defendant summary judgment on the § 1983 claim finding the defendant had acted as a “reasonable police officer would act” and therefore had qualified immunity. The district court remanded the remaining claims to state court. The Maricopa County Superior Court granted the defendant summary judgment on all claims based upon the doctrine of issue preclusion created by the federal judgment and the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed.
Because, under the U.S. Constitution both the federal government and state government “wield sovereign powers” our system is one of “dual sovereignty.” As such, in considering the impact of a federal court judgment in state court the doctrine of issue preclusion rather than law of the case applies here.
There are two types of issue preclusion.
- Claim preclusion—where the causes of action are identical a judgement on them precludes relitigating the same claim between the same parties;
- Issue preclusion—where the issues of law or fact are the same relitigating them again is barred.
A party asserting issue preclusion must prove: “(1) the issue
at stake was identical in both proceedings; (2) the issue was actually
litigated and decided in the prior proceeding; (3) there was a full and fair
opportunity to litigate the issue; and (4) the issue was necessary to decide
In determining whether an issue is identical in two separate proceedings the court apply Restatement (Second) of Judgments:
(1) [I]s there a substantial overlap between the evidence or
argument to be advanced in the second proceeding and that
advanced in the first? (2) does the new evidence or argument
involve the application of the same rule of law as that
involved in the prior proceeding? (3) could pretrial
preparation and discovery related to the matter presented in
the first action reasonably be expected to have embraced the
matter sought to be presented in the second? (4) how closely
related are the claims involved in the two proceedings?
Here the federal court found the defendant had qualified immunity because he acted reasonably in his official capacity to preclude the plaintiff from violating A.R.S. § 28-663(A) and A.R.S. § 13-3883(A)(2) when she attempted to leave the scene of an accident. “Both federal and state qualified immunity require an analysis of whether [defendant] violated established law or unreasonably disregarded the unlawful nature of his conduct. Because the evidence and arguments required to resolve either qualified immunity defense are nearly the same (at least in the context of excessive force), we conclude there is a substantial overlap between the issues. Further, because the three critical facts upon which the federal court relied to grant summary judgment on the § 1983 claim (1. Impact push; 2. Pulling revolver and demonstrating defendant was a police officer; and 3. Ordering plaintiff stay in her car) were essential to establish plaintiffs' assault and false imprisonment state claims, issue preclusion was properly applied here by the trial court.