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Mason v. City of Lake Forest Park

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

August 18, 2014

MICHELE MASON, et al., Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF LAKE FOREST PARK, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

JOHN C. COUGHENOUR, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the parties' joint motion to continue the trial date in this matter (Dkt. No. 32), the response of Plaintiffs' counsel to this Court's August 7, 2014 Order to Show Cause (Dkt. No. 33), and Plaintiffs' motion for default judgment (Dkt. No. 34). Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court GRANTS the motion for a continuance; DISMISSES Plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment, false arrest, and false imprisonment claims without prejudice and DISCHARGES the August 7, 2014 Order to Show Cause; and DENIES Plaintiffs' motion for default judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

As previously explained, Plaintiffs Michelle Mason and Michael Gilmore bring this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Washington law against the City of Lake Forest Park; a number of Lake Forest Park police officers and officials; Alexandre Kristjansson; and Sean Kiaer.[1] (Dkt. No. 1.) Their Complaint alleges that the Lake Forest Park defendants unlawfully searched their home and seized a great deal of personal property-primarily computers and other electronics-based upon knowingly false allegations made by Defendants Alexandre Kristjansson and Sean Kiaer. ( See Dkt. No. 1 at ¶¶ 3.1-3.94.) According to Plaintiffs, Ms. Kristjansson falsely reported to the Lake Forest Park police that Plaintiff Michael Gilmore sexually harassed and assaulted her daughter, M.K., while M.K. and Ms. Kristjansson resided in Plaintiffs' home. ( Id. at ¶¶ 3.58-3.61, 3.80-3.82.) Plaintiffs' Complaint also states that Ms. Kristjansson falsely accused Mr. Gilmore of possessing child pornography. ( Id. at ¶¶ 3.59, 3.78.) Based on these allegations, Lake Forest Park police officers obtained a warrant and searched Plaintiffs' home, seizing the personal property noted above. Plaintiffs allege that while Defendants returned some of the property, the Lake Forest Park police department continues to hold a number of personal possessions that were seized. ( Id. at ¶¶ 3.85-3.89.)

Plaintiffs assert federal civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the individual officer defendants and against the City based on a Monell policy or custom theory. Among those claims, Plaintiffs included a "cruel and unusual punishment" claim under the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiffs also assert claims for false arrest, false imprisonment, conversion, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence against all defendants. (Dkt. No. 1 at ¶¶ 5.12-5.34.) Finally, Plaintiffs bring a defamation claim against Defendants Alexandre Kristjansson and Sean Kiaer. (Dkt. No. 1 at ¶¶ 5.35-5.38.) Plaintiffs filed their Complaint on April 15, 2013. Trial in this matter is currently set for December 8, 2014.

The following issues are now before the Court: (1) the parties' joint motion for an eight month continuance of the trial date; (2) Plaintiffs' counsel's response to this Court's August 7, 2014 Order to Show Cause; and (3) Plaintiffs' motion for default judgment against Defendants Alexandre Kristjansson and Sean Kiaer. The Court addresses each in turn, beginning with Mr. Hildes' OSC response.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment, False Arrest, and False Imprisonment Claims

On August 7, 2014, the Court denied Defendants' motion for sanctions against Plaintiffs' counsel. (Dkt. No. 31.) That motion was based on the refusal of Plaintiffs' counsel to dismiss frivolous claims for cruel and unusual punishment, false arrest, and false imprisonment. The Court declined to sanction Mr. Hildes, but nonetheless ordered him to show cause why the claims should not be dismissed as frivolous. ( Id. at 7-8.) In his response to the Court's Order, Mr. Hildes states that he does not oppose dismissal of those claims. (Dkt. No. 33 at 2) ("Plaintiffs' counsel is convinced that those claims were erroneous and should be dismissed.").

In light of Mr. Hildes' non-opposition to dismissal of the three claims at issue, as well as the frivolous nature of these claims as described in the Court's previous order (Dkt. No. 31), the Court hereby DISMISSES without prejudice Plaintiffs' cruel and unusual punishment, false arrest, and false imprisonment claims against all defendants.

B. The Parties' Request for a Trial Continuance

The Court next addresses the parties' joint request for an eight month trial continuance. In their motion, the parties state that (1) Defense counsel has two other trials set for December 8, 2014, the date this matter is scheduled for trial; (2) Plaintiffs' counsel has two appellate briefs due in late October and mid-November of 2014, as well as two trials set for mid- and late-November; and (3) this is a complex matter that requires additional time for the parties to attempt to resolve the case prior to trial. (Dkt. No. 32.)

The Court grants the parties' request for a continuance. Trial in this matter is hereby rescheduled for August 3, 2015 at 9:30 A.M. in Courtroom 16206. The parties' proposed pretrial order is due no later than July 23, 2015. Trial briefs and proposed voir dire/jury instructions shall be submitted no later than July 30, 2015. All other case management dates remain ...


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