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Pacheco v. Davalos

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

April 18, 2014

KARISSA MARIE PACHECO, Plaintiff,
v.
FRANK XAVIER DAVALOS & JOHN DOE (1-5), JANE DOE (1-5), KITSAP COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE DIRECT SUPERVISORS, JOHN/JANE DOES TO BE NAMED AT A LATER DATE, & SOUTH KITSAP SCHOOL DISTRICT #402, Defendant.

ORDER OF REMAND AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND AND ITS

BENJAMIN H. SETTLE, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Kitsap County's Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim and Motion to Dismiss for Insufficient Process and Service of Process (Dkt. 14), Plaintiff's Motion to Amend (Dkt. 30) and the Court's Order to Show Cause and Renoting Motions (Dkt. 27). The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion and the remainder of the file and hereby finds a lack of subject matter jurisdiction over each Defendant and remands the case to Kitsap County Superior Court.

I. PROCEDURAL & FACTUAL HISTORY

A. State Court Complaint

On August 16, 2013, Plaintiff filed her amended complaint in Kitsap County Superior Court. Dkt. 4 at 5-9. She alleged that Defendant Frank Xavier Davalos ("Davalos"), while under the supervision of Kitsap County, had "repeated intentional unwanted sexual contact with Plaintiff while she was in her home and in the Sheriffs' vehicle provided to Defendant Frank Davalos." Id. at 7. Based on those events, Plaintiff makes claims of "negligence, abuse, exploitation, outrage, and negligent infliction of emotional distress and sexual assault." Id. at 8. Under "Relief Requested, " Plaintiff requested "cost [sic] and reasonable attorney's fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, " and "punitive damages against the Defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983." Id. at 9. Plaintiff made no other reference to § 1983 in her amended complaint. See id.

Defendants Kitsap County Sheriff's Office and its direct supervisors ("Kitsap County"), South Kitsap School District #402 ("Kitsap School District"), and Davalos are each separately represented. Dkt. 1.

B. Removal

On November 8, 2013, Davalos removed the case to federal court stating that this case is "founded on a claim arising under federal law, " appearing to reference a possible claim by Plaintiff under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Dkt. 1. On November 12, 2013, Kitsap School District joined in the removal (Dkt. 7), but Kitsap County did not file any joinder or opposition to the removal. At the time of removal, Kitsap County had apparently not been served; Kitsap County was served over 60 days later, on January 23, 2014. See Dkts. 14, 23.

C. Kitsap County's Motion to Dismiss

On January 16, 2014, Kitsap County filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim and Motion to Dismiss for Insufficient Process and Service of Process, requesting that the Court dismiss all claims against it. Dkt. 14. Kitsap County argued that Plaintiff failed to state a claim because: (1) Washington courts have held that an employer is not vicariously liable for the sexual assaults of its employees; (2) Washington's public duty doctrine precludes recovery for breach of duty because there is no special relationship between Plaintiff and Kitsap County; (3) Plaintiff does not allege a causal connection between Plaintiff's injury and Davalos's employment; and (4) Plaintiff's pleadings are insufficient to provide Kitsap County notice of the claims. Dkt. 14. Kitsap County also argues for dismissal based on insufficient service of process because Plaintiff served Kitsap County with a summons naming Davalos in the caption, not Kitsap County. Id.

Plaintiff responded on February 1, 2014, alleging that: (1) Kitsap County is liable for foreseeable sexual assaults by its employees under J.N. v. Bellingham Sch. Dist. No. 501, 74 Wn.App. 49 (1994); (2) Washington's public duty doctrine has no application for intentional torts of government agents and Kitsap County formed a special relationship with Plaintiff by assigning Davalos to Plaintiff's public school; (3) sexual assaults by an on-duty sheriff's deputy and in his patrol vehicle constitutes a causal connection; and (4) Plaintiff's pleadings are sufficient because Kitsap County's negligent supervision allowed Davalos multiple opportunities to sexually assault Plaintiff. Dkt. 23. Plaintiff also represented that she served the correct summons and complaint on Kitsap County on January 23, 2013. Dkt. 23 at 24.

In reply, Kitsap County argued that: (1) a School Resource Officer does not have a duty to students like a school does; (2) any failure-to-protect claim is not the cause-in-fact or the legal cause of Plaintiff's injuries; (3) there are no facts supporting a theory of negligent hiring, retention, or supervision, and even if there were, such a theory is not the proximate cause of Plaintiff's injury; and (4) the public duty doctrine applies to claims against Kitsap County. Dkt. 25. In addition, Kitsap County asked the Court to strike all of Plaintiff's reference to non-admissible hearsay. Dkt. 25 at 3-4.

D. Order to Show Cause on Federal Jurisdiction

On March 3, 2014, the Court issued an Order to Show Cause why this matter should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Dkt. 27. The Court stated that, at that point, there were insufficient facts to support diversity jurisdiction or a federal claim, including a § 1983 claim. Id. at 6. Specifically, the Court outlined that Plaintiff must show that "(1) the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law, and that (2) the conduct ...


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