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Sullivan v. City of Marysville

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

May 12, 2014

FRANK SULLIVAN, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF MARYSVILLE, et al., Defendants. BEN DAVIS and RACHEL DAVIS, Third-Party Plaintiffs,
v.
ROGER HAWKES, et al.,

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

JAMES L. ROBART, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the court is Defendants and Third Party Plaintiffs Ben Davis' and Rachel Davis' renewed motion for summary judgment against Plaintiff Frank Sullivan. ( See Mot. (Dkt. # 38).) Defendants argue that Mr. Sullivan's claims against them should be dismissed because Mr. Sullivan previously assigned all of his claims against them to Mr. Davis. ( See generally Mot.) Having considered the submissions of the parties, the balance of the record, and the relevant law, and having heard oral argument, the court GRANTS Defendants' motion for summary judgment.

II. BACKGROUND

The following facts are undisputed. Mr. Sullivan and Jennifer Davis (the mother of Mr. Davis) lived as domestic partners until Jennifer Davis' death in August 2012. (Sullivan Decl. (Dkt. # 41-1) ¶¶ 1, 5.) After Jennifer Davis' death, Mr. Sullivan claimed a financial equity interest in the house they had shared. ( Id. ¶ 5.) He filed a creditor's claim with her estate, which was rejected. ( Id. ) He then brought a lawsuit in Washington state court against Janet Brown, the personal representative of Jennifer Davis' estate ("the Estate"). ( Id. )

This lawsuit was settled in mediation. ( Id. ¶ 6.) Mr. Sullivan and Ms. Brown signed a settlement agreement ("Settlement"). (Dkt. # 38-2 at 12-14 ("Settlement").) The Agreement provided that Mr. Sullivan would receive a cashier's check for $12, 222.00 and that "[u]pon receipt of such cashier's check, Frank Sullivan shall sign an assignment of all his claims and his Lis Pendens against the property... to a person or entity designated by Janet Brown." ( Id. ¶¶ 1, 2.) Because the Estate did not have sufficient assets to fund the settlement, the Settlement provided that a third party would provide the funds. ( Id . ¶ 3.)

Mr. Davis provided funds of $12, 222.00 to the Estate, which the Estate used to pay Mr. Sullivan pursuant to the Settlement. (Sullivan Decl. (Dkt. # 38-1) ¶ 6.) When Mr. Sullivan collected the payment, he signed an "Assignment of Claims." ( Id. ¶ 7.) The Assignment states:

Frank Sullivan hereby assigns to Benjamin Davis all claims he might have against Jennifer Davis, Benjamin Davis, William Davis, the Estate of Jennifer Marie Davis and/or Janet Brown as the Personal Representative of the Estate of Jennifer Marie Davis.

(Dkt. # 38-2 at 15 ("Assignment").)

Mr. Sullivan now brings a lawsuit against Mr. Davis and his wife, the City of Marysville, and two individual police officers. ( See generally Am. Compl. (Dkt. # 34).) Mr. Sullivan alleges that, shortly after Jennifer Davis' death, Mr. Davis and Janet Brown removed many of Mr. Sullivan's possessions from the house that he had shared with Jennifer Davis. ( Id. ¶¶ 4.22-4.31.) Specifically, Mr. Sullivan alleges that Mr. Davis and Ms. Brown entered the house with the support of the City of Marysville police and carried away numerous items of his personal property over his strenuous objections. ( Id. ) Mr. Sullivan alleges claims of conversion and violation of privacy against Mr. and Mrs. Davis. ( Id. ¶ 5, 8.)

In their motion for summary judgment, Mr. and Mrs. Davis argue that Mr. Sullivan's claims against them are barred because Mr. Sullivan assigned these claims to Mr. Davis pursuant to the Assignment.[1] ( See Mot.)

III. ANALYSIS

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 requires a court to grant summary judgment where the moving party demonstrates (1) the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and (2) entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); see also Galen v. Cnty. of L.A., 477 F.3d 652, 658 (9th Cir. 2007). The moving party bears the initial burden of production to show an absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. If the moving party will bear the ultimate burden of persuasion at trial, it must establish a prima facie showing in support of its position on that issue. UA Local 343 v. Nor-Cal Plumbing, Inc., 48 F.3d 1465, 1471 (9th Cir. 1994). That is, the moving party must present evidence that, if ...


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