United States District Court, D. Nevada
RICHARD F. BOULWARE, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court comes Defendant Corporation of the Presiding Bishop
of the Church of Latter-day Saints (“CPB”)'s
Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 25), CPB's Motion
for Judgment on the Pleadings or in the Alternative Motion
for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 26), and Plaintiff Lino Murillo
(“Murillo”)'s Motion for Summary Judgment
(ECF No. 33). As stated on the record at this Court's
December 8, 2017 hearing, this Order is limited to the issue
of whether CPB may be held vicariously liable for Defendant
Brendan Goad (“Goad”)'s actions on January 1,
2016. For the reasons stated below, the Court finds there is
a genuine dispute as to the underlying facts that may
establish vicarious liability, and therefore CPB's Motion
for Judgment on the Pleadings or alternative Motion for
Summary Judgment, and Murillo's Motion for Summary
Judgment, are denied as to this theory.
parties are familiar with the procedural background in the
case. The Court adopts its findings of undisputed and
disputed facts as stated on the record during the December 8,
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides: “Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings. After the pleadings are closed-but
early enough not to delay trial-a party may move for judgment
on the pleadings.” This Circuit has held that “a
Rule 12(c) motion is ‘functionally identical' to a
Rule 12(b)(6) motion . . . . A judgment on the pleadings is
properly granted when, ‘taking all the allegations in
the pleadings as true, the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.'” Gregg v.
Dep't of Pub. Safety, 870 F.3d 883, 887 (9th Cir.
2017) (citations omitted). In reviewing a grant of a Rule
12(c) motion, the Ninth Circuit “inquires whether the
complaint at issue contains ‘sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim of relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Harris v. Cty. of
Orange, 682 F.3d 1126, 1131 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).
“The Court may find a claim plausible when a plaintiff
pleads sufficient facts to allow the Court to draw a
reasonable inference of misconduct, but the Court is not
required ‘to accept as true a legal conclusion couched
as a factual allegation.'” Id. (citing
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
judgment is appropriate when the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits, if any, show “that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a); accord Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322 (1986). When considering the propriety of summary
judgment, the court views all facts and draws all inferences
in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Gonzalez v. City of Anaheim, 747 F.3d 789, 793 (9th
Cir. 2014). If the movant has carried its burden, the
non-moving party “must do more than simply show that
there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts . .
. . Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a
rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there
is no genuine issue for trial.” Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007) (alteration in
original) (quotation marks omitted).
liability, or liability based on the doctrine of respondeat
superior, is a two-part analysis. “Respondeat superior
liability attaches only when the employee is under the
control of the employer and when the act is within the scope
of employment. . . . Therefore, an actionable claim on a
theory of respondeat superior requires proof that (1) the
actor at issue was an employee, and (2) the action complained
of occurred within the scope of the actor's
employment.” Rockwell v. Sun Harbor Budget
Suites, 925 P.2d 1175, 1179 (Nev. 1996) (quoting
Molino v. Asher, 618 P.2d 878, 879 (Nev. 1980))
(quotation marks omitted). The jury determines whether an
employee acted within the scope of her employment when she
committed the wrongful act. See Nat'l Convenience
Stores v. Fantauzzi, 584 P.2d 689, 692 (Nev. 1978)
(“Whether an employee was engaged in the scope of
employment when the tortious act occurred raises an issue of
fact which is within the province of a jury.”).
are, at least, two issues relevant to the determination of
vicarious liability: 1) whether Goad was acting within the
scope of his employment or mission at the time of the
accident, and, relatedly, 2) the degree of control CPB
exercised over Goad as he fulfilled his missionary duties,
even on so-called leisure days such as January 1, 2016. The
Court finds that there are disputed facts as to each of these
issues. The CPB provides rules and guidance as to how
missionaries are to behave even on leisure days. Goad was
operating a church vehicle pursuant to a CPB agreement about
his driving at the time of the accident in this case. Goad,
however, was operating the vehicle on a leisure day. There
are also genuine disputes of material fact as to whether Goad
exercised independent choice in his recreational pursuits, or
whether CPB's guidance on how to engage in recreational
activities constitutes “control” for the purposes
of vicarious liability. In light of these disputes and the
need to further develop the factual record, the Court finds
that summary judgment is unwarranted for either party.
See Yellow Cab of Reno v. Second Judicial Dist. Ct. of
Nev., 262 P.3d 699, 704 (Nev. 2011) (noting that the
determination of the scope of employment or control of
employee is generally a question of fact for the jury).
Court incorporates its discussion and findings on the
remaining issues from the December 8, 2017 hearing record.