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Blatt v. Shove

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

August 18, 2014

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


RICHARD A. JONES, District Judge.


This matter comes before the court on Defendants' motion for summary judgment. No party requested oral argument, and the court finds oral argument unnecessary. For the reasons stated herein, the court GRANTS the motion in part and DENIES it in part. Dkt. # 125. The court dismisses all claims against all Defendants with two exceptions: Plaintiff may proceed to trial on his claim that six Marysville Police officers arrested him without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment and his claim that the officers arrested him in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights.

The court DENIES Plaintiff's motion to extend the discovery period. Dkt. # 132. Discovery in this matter is closed. Trial will begin on December 8, 2014.

The clerk shall TERMINATE Defendants Adam Vermeulen, John Doe Gehlsen, and Fred L. Gillings as parties. There are no claims remaining against them.


A. The Court Grants Summary Judgment Against All of Mr. Blatt's Remaining Claims, with Two Exceptions.

In its February 7, 2014 order, the court held that that the only claims that remain in this action are Plaintiff Leon Blatt's claims invoking 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and § 1985 against seven Marysville police officers and one Marysville judge.[1] Section 1983 permits a suit against a defendant acting under color of state law who has violated a plaintiff's rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution or other federal laws. Section 1985 creates liability for certain conspiracies between state actors.

In their summary judgment motion, Defendants have attempted to decipher Mr. Blatt's operative complaint to determine what § 1983 and § 1985 claims Mr. Blatt has attempted to state. As the court has noted before, that complaint is a confounding jumble of hard-to-follow and error-strewn allegations, along with a host of irrelevant material. Feb. 7, 2014 ord. (Dkt. # 119) at 4-5; Mar. 1, 2013 ord. (Dkt. # 82) at 1-2. The court concludes that Defendants did as well as could be expected in identifying those claims, and said enough about them in their summary judgment motion to obligate Mr. Blatt to either support those claims or clarify which claims he intended to bring.

With two exceptions, which the court will soon discuss, Mr. Blatt's § 1983 and § 1985 claims fail because of fatal legal flaws as well as the lack of any evidence to support them. Mr. Blatt neither states a claim nor provides evidence to support a claim that anyone deprived him of rights guaranteed by the Equal Protection Clause or Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. He has no standing to assert a claim based on any police officer's or other official's failure to investigate an alleged violation of a domestic violence no-contact order involving Mr. Blatt's landlord and a woman. Mr. Blatt's assertion that anyone conspired to prevent him from testifying in a court proceeding related to any allegation of domestic violence lacks evidentiary support. As to his attempt to state a claim against the judge, he has offered neither evidence nor allegation sufficient to overcome the absolute immunity afforded to judges for their judicial acts.[2]

The court dismisses each of the foregoing claims with prejudice, and to the extent that Mr. Blatt believes that he has one or more other claims hidden in his operative complaint that the court has not addressed in this order or in its prior orders, the court rules that he has abandoned those claims by failing to state them with sufficient clarity or to take any other actions that would put anyone on notice that he is pursuing those claims.

B. Mr. Blatt's False Arrest and Retaliatory Arrest Claims May Proceed to Trial.

What remains of this case are two related claims that arise from an incident in Marysville at around 1:00 a.m. on October 13, 2008. The court considers those claims on a motion for summary judgment, and therefore applies the familiar summary judgment standard, which requires it to draw all inferences from the admissible evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Addisu v. Fred Meyer, Inc., 198 F.3d 1130, 1134 (9th Cir. 2000). Summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party must initially show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The opposing party must then show a genuine issue of fact for trial. Matsushita Elect. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The opposing party must present probative evidence to support its claim or defense. Intel Corp. v. Hartford Accident & Indem. Co., 952 F.2d 1551, 1558 (9th Cir. 1991). The court defers to neither party in resolving purely legal questions. See Bendixen v. Standard Ins. Co., 185 F.3d 939, 942 (9th Cir. 1999).

According to Mr. Blatt, a woman came to him on that October night to complain that Mr. Blatt's landlord was "holding her in violation of a No Contact Order and was beating her." Blatt Decl. (Dkt. # 128-1) ¶ 8. Mr. Blatt advised the woman to run away from his landlord, but she declined. Later that night, Mr. Blatt's landlord, apparently upset that the woman had come to Mr. Blatt, confronted him with a knife, cut his fingertip, chased him down a road, and tackled him. Mr. Blatt escaped and ran to a house and knocked on the door. Id. ¶ 12. A girl answered the door, and Mr. Blatt asked her to call 911. The girl went inside, came back to the door at least once, and her mother eventually told her to close the door. Mr. ...

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