Oral Argument January 6, 2014
Date filed: 08/24/2012.
Appeal from Pierce County Superior Court. Docket No: 12-2-09618-5, Judge signing: Honorable Garold E Johnson.
Mark E. Lindquist, Prosecuting Attorney, and Daniel R. Hamilton, Deputy ; and Christopher W. Keay (of Johnson, Graffe, Keay, Moniz & Wick LLP ), for petitioners.
Thaddeus P. Martin IV, for respondent.
AUTHOR: Jill M Johanson, A.C.J. We concur: Thomas R Bjorgen, J., Bradley A. Maxa, J.
[179 Wn.App. 568] ¶ 1 On discretionary review, we are asked whether quasi-judicial immunity should apply to Mark Skagren, a guardian ad litem (GAL) appointed in a parental termination action who is alleged to have " used his authority, tasks, tools and premises of his job and assignment to stalk, prey, assault, batter and sexually harass" Joyce Kelley. Clerk's Papers (CP) at 2. Pierce County (County) and Skagren argue that the superior court should have applied quasi-judicial immunity and dismissed Kelley's claims [179 Wn.App. 569] because (1) Washington courts have applied quasi-judicial immunity to GALs in the past and (2) the face of Kelley's complaint establishes that quasi-judicial immunity applies here. In the published portion of our opinion, we hold that Skagren is not entitled to quasi-judicial immunity when acting outside of his statutory GAL functions and under the facts alleged in Kelley's complaint and contained in her declaration; accordingly, the superior court was correct in not dismissing her claims. We affirm.
¶ 2 In the unpublished portion of our opinion, we reject Kelley's argument that we should strike the County's appellate brief because it does not adequately assign error. However, we order $500 in sanctions against the County for including extensive argument in its opening brief on collateral estoppel even though we specifically denied discretionary review of that issue and without even acknowledging our denial of discretionary review.
¶ 3 In June 2011, the superior court assigned Skagren as GAL to perform duties under RCW 13.34.100 in the context of a parental termination action. In December, Kelley petitioned the district court for a protection order to protect herself and her son from Skagren, claiming that he had unlawfully harassed her. She alleged that Skagren preyed on her as a vulnerable woman, continuously called and texted her, including when he was under the influence of alcohol; stopped by her job even when she was not there; stopped by her home one night near midnight; and was not performing his GAL duties. She feared that Skagren would retaliate against her and her son in her termination case.
¶ 4 After a hearing, the district court denied her request and dismissed her petition. The district court noted that " [t]he work of Mr. Skagren at the time as a [GAL] permits, in fact, requires a guardian to make certain observations and investigations, and it appears that's what was going on. So this matter is dismissed." CP at 150.
[179 Wn.App. 570] ¶ 5 About six months later, Kelley filed a complaint for damages against the County, Skagren, and " Jane Doe" Skagren, alleging that Skagren, as her court-appointed GAL, " used his authority, tasks, tools and premises of his job and assignment to stalk, prey, assault, batter and sexually harass" her. CP at 2. Kelley alleged causes of action (1) under the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD), chapter 49.60 RCW, for sexual discrimination and/or harassment, gender discrimination, hostile environment, disparate treatment, assault and battery, and unlawful retaliation; (2) for negligent hiring, training, supervision, ...