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Donald L. Myles, Jr., Jones, Skelton & Hochuli, Phoenix, AZ prevailed by summary judgment in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights action against the City of Yuma. The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona found that there was no liability on the part of City of Yuma because an arresting officer had probable cause to arrest the plaintiff. This ruling saved the City of Yuma over $1.5 Million in potential damages and reiterated the Yuma Police Department’s authority under the Constitution to arrest suspects when there is probable cause that a crime has been committed.

The case stemmed from plaintiff’s arrest in September 2012 by Yuma police officers. Plaintiff’s charge was dismissed due to lack of cooperation by the alleged victim. Plaintiff then sued the City of Yuma and the arresting officer alleging false arrest and imprisonment, and malicious prosecution.

The central issue to the Motion for Summary Judgment concerned whether the officer’s arrest was predicated on sufficient probable cause. In the state of Arizona, probable cause exists to make an arrest when the arresting officer has reasonably trustworthy information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a criminal offense had been committed. Judge Douglas L. Rayes noted, “Arizona law permits an officer to arrest a person if the officer has probable cause to believe that domestic violence has been committed by that person, regardless of whether the offense is a felony or misdemeanor and of whether the offense was committed in the officer’s presence.” In summary, Judge Rayes agreed with the position of the defense, that sufficient probable cause existed to believe plaintiff was guilty of some crime.  Congratulations, Don!

Another One for Don:

Don Myles sustained a summary judgment ruling before the Arizona Court of Appeals (Div. 1) in favor of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (“BCBSAZ”). Plaintiff claimed he sustained dental damage due to his taking the drug ACTIQ which was in the form of sugar lozenges and, therefore, sought contract benefits for the dental work his dentist recommended. BCBSAZ had paid for the prescribed medication (ACTIQ) but denied coverage of the dental services because they were not covered under Plaintiff’s “medical” insurance contract, which provided limited dental benefits, as distinguished from a “dental” contract which BCBSAZ did not provide to Plaintiff. As a result, Plaintiff filed his Complaint alleging breach of contract and insurance bad faith claiming BCBSAZ should have paid for the dental work and that BCBSAZ breached the contract by paying for ACTIQ when it could have denied the benefit because ACTIQ was not an approved drug.

The Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment on all counts. First, while the contract requires BCBSAZ to pay for covered benefits, there is no converse obligation not to pay for ineligible benefits. Second, the Court held that the limited “dental services” under the medical contract did not apply because Plaintiff’s tooth decay, allegedly caused by the drug, was not the result of “accidental injury” or “integral to a medical procedure” under the contract. Plaintiff also claimed that BCBSAZ had an obligation to, in effect, monitor Plaintiff’s healthcare by the manner in which it administered benefits. The Court held that BCBSAZ did not act in bad faith in allegedly failing to monitor Plaintiff’s healthcare decisions and declining to pay for ACTIQ as it could have. Well done, Don!

Do you have a triumph to share? Send a brief summary and a recent photograph to David Fuqua at dfuqua@fc-lawyers.com


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