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Rodriguez-Cayro v. Rodriquez-Cayro

United States District Court, D. Utah

September 19, 2018

KYLI RODRIGUEZ-CAYRO, Plaintiff/Counterclaim Defendant,
v.
NARCISO ALEJANDRO RODRIGUEZ-CAYRO, Defendant/Counterclaim and Crossclaim Plaintiff,
v.
MARNIE LYNN ANTONIK, Third-party Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART COUNTERCLAIM DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND DENYING AS MOOT THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          JILL N. PARRISH UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Kyli Rodriguez-Cayro sued her father, Narciso Rodriguez-Cayro, alleging that he sexually abused her when she was a child. Narciso pleads two inconsistent defenses to Kyli's lawsuit. First, Narciso alleges that he never abused his daughter and countersues Kyli for what he contends to be false claims of abuse. The counterclaims include causes of action for defamation, abuse of process, and wrongful use of civil proceedings. Second, Narciso asserts that if he did sexually abuse Kyli as a child, his ex-wife, Marnie Antonik, knew about the abuse and negligently failed to report it to the authorities. Thus, in a third-party claim against Marnie, Narciso alleges that a jury should allocate fault between himself-for sexually abusing his daughter-and Marnie-for negligently failing to stop him.

         Before the court are two motions to dismiss. Kyli moves to dismiss the counterclaims against her for abuse of process, and wrongful use of civil proceedings. The court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Kyli's motion to dismiss. Marnie also moves to dismiss the third-party claim against her for apportionment. After oral argument on this motion, the parties stipulated to the dismissal of the third-party claim against Marnie. The court, therefore, DENIES AS MOOT Marnie's motion to dismiss.

         ANALYSIS

         I. KYLI'S MOTION TO DISMISS

         Narciso alleges two causes of action against Kyli that are based upon the legal proceedings she has brought against him: (1) abuse of process and (2) wrongful use of civil proceedings. Kyli argues that both claims should be dismissed.

         A. Abuse of Process

         Narciso bases his abuse of process claim upon two separate legal proceedings: this Utah lawsuit and a petition for protection from abuse brought by Kyli in Pennsylvania state court. Specifically, he asserts:

Given the falsity of Counterclaim-defendant's allegations, she is not using legal proceedings for their designed purpose, which is to provide relief and/or compensation to an actual victim in need of such relief.
Instead, Counterclaim-defendant intentionally and maliciously filed the instant action, and her previous false Petition [for] Protection from Abuse in Pennsylvania, with the primary purpose of revenge against her Counterclaim-plaintiff by harming, harassing, and embarrassing him.

         Kyli moves to dismiss the abuse of process claim, arguing that these allegations do not establish the elements of this cause of action. Because Narciso bases his claim in part on a Utah proceeding and in part upon a Pennsylvania proceeding, the court shall analyze this claim under both Utah law and Pennsylvania law

         1) Utah Law

         Under Utah law, “abuse of process applies to ‘[o]ne who uses a legal process . . . against another primarily to accomplish a purpose for which it is not designed.'” Gilbert v. Ince, 981 P.2d 841, 845 (Utah 1999) (alterations in the original) (quoting Restatement (Second) of Torts § 682 (1977)). “A claim for abuse of process requires the plaintiff to show (1) that the defendant used legal process, (2) to accomplish an improper purpose or purpose for which that process was not designed, (3) causing the plaintiff's harm.” Mountain W. Surgical Ctr., L.L.C. v. Hosp. Corp. of Utah, 173 P.3d 1276, 1278 (Utah 2007). For example, where a party used a legal process to improperly seize a large number of turkeys before Thanksgiving for the primary purpose of forcing the other party to pay an unrelated debt, the party that used the improperly seized turkeys as a bargaining chip was liable for abuse of process. Templeton Feed & Grain v. Ralston Purina Co., 446 P.2d 152, 154-56 (Cal. 1968) (cited with approval in Hatch v. Davis, 147 P.3d 383, 390 (Utah 2006)); see also Restatement (Second) of Torts § 682 cmt. b (1977) (“The usual case of abuse of process is one of some form of extortion, using the process to put pressure upon the other to compel him to pay a different debt or to take some other action or refrain from it.”).

         Kyli argues that Narciso's allegations that she initiated this Utah proceeding without probable cause and with the intent to harm him are not enough to show that she used a legal process for an improper purpose. The court agrees. Narciso has not alleged facts indicating that ...


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