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Blatt v. Shove

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

February 7, 2014

LEON BLATT, Plaintiff,
v.
PETE SHOVE, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

RICHARD A. JONES, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the court on two motions to dismiss: one from the Cities of Lake Stevens and Marysville and their employees, and another from Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick. The court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the Cities' motion (Dkt. # 93) and GRANTS Sheriff Lovick's motion (Dkt. # 88).

The effect of the court's disposition today is as follows:

1) The court has already dismissed with prejudice any claim arising under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on actions that Sheriff Lovick or any other Snohomish County agent took to deprive Plaintiff Leon Blatt of access to the courts while he was confined in the Snohomish County Jail. Jul. 12, 2012 order (Dkt. # 56) at 6-8, 11. To the extent that Mr. Blatt's second amended complaint (Dkt. # 80) attempts to resurrect those claims, it is improper.
2) The court dismisses as untimely all other claims that Mr. Blatt has attempted to state against Snohomish County, Sheriff Lovick, the Snohomish County Superior Court, David Oster, and any other Snohomish County agency or employee.
3) The court declines to dismiss Mr. Blatt's federal claims against the police officers who arrested him, although those claims are limited to those arising out of his original complaint within the meaning of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)(1)(B). The court does not suggest that the claims have merit.
4) The court declines to dismiss Mr. Blatt's federal claims against the two judges he named in his original complaint, although those claims are limited to those arising out of the judges' alleged refusal to determine whether probable cause existed to confine Mr. Blatt following his October 2008 arrest. The court does not suggest that these claims have merit, or that the claims avoid the absolute immunity afforded to judges for acts taken in their judicial capacities.
5) The court dismisses as untimely all claims against the City of Marysville, the City of Lake Stevens, and any other agent of those Cities other than those listed in the previous two paragraphs.
6) Mr. Blatt must serve summons and his second amended complaint on Officer Adam Vermuelen and the two judges within 30 days of this order, or the court will dismiss all claims against them.

The remainder of this order explains these conclusions.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Mr. Blatt's First Complaint, His Efforts to Serve It, and His Pre-Suit Claim

Mr. Blatt initiated this case on October 13, 2011 in a 4-page complaint. It contained straightforward factual allegations. Omitting Mr. Blatt's allegations against two attorneys appointed to represent him, which the court has dismissed with prejudice, [1] those allegations are as follows. Seven officers of the Marysville or Lake Stevens police departments arrested Mr. Blatt (or "kidnapped" him, to use Mr. Blatt's words) and "instigated false charges in the Marysville Municipal Court of Disorderly Conduct/Obstruction.'" Compl. (Dkt. # 4), ¶ II.A. Two judges, Fred Gillings and "pro tem Gehlsen, " held him in jail for two months. Id. He asserted that he was never found guilty of a crime, and that the two judges "denied [him] due process by denying [his] requests for a probable cause determination." Id. John Lovick, the Snohomish County Sheriff and Mr. Blatt's "jailor, " refused his requests for access to the law library and other legal resources, thus denying him access to the courts. Id.

The complaint named only the seven police officers, the two judges (and an "unknown pro tem"), the two attorneys, and Sheriff Lovick. So far as the record reveals, Mr. Blatt did nothing to serve his complaint until February 10, 2012, 120 days after he filed it. On that date, someone delivered summonses to the seven officers to the "Clerk" allegedly authorized to accept service of process on behalf of the Marysville Police Department. Dkt. # 8 (Feb. 10, 2012 proofs of service). The same person also delivered summonses addressed to the two judges (along with a summons addressed to "Unknown pro tem (Lorrie Towers)") to the "City Clerk and City Prosecutor" allegedly authorized to accept service on behalf of the "City of Marysville and its employees." Id. He delivered a summons addressed to Sheriff Lovick to the "Risk Management Clerk" allegedly authorized to accept service for the Snohomish County Jail. Id. He also delivered summonses addressed to several parties who were not named in the complaint: the City of Marysville, the City of Lake Stevens, and Snohomish County. Id. He delivered the Marysville summons to the City's "Risk Management Clerk City Prosecutor, " the Lake Stevens summons to "Clerks" at "Lake Stevens City Hall/City, " and the Snohomish County summons to the "Risk Management Clerk" for the County. Id.

On the same day that Mr. Blatt filed his complaint, he submitted a form for a presuit claim for damages to the City of Marysville. There, he stated as follows:

Approximately ha[lf] a dozen Marysville and possibly Lake Stevens police abducted me and instigated false charges of "Obstruction/Disorderly Conduct" in Marysville Municipal Court. After spending a total of two months in jail, charge(s) was/were dismissed and I was released. The officers ...

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