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Mahoney v. Holder

United States District Court, W.D. Washington

October 17, 2014

ROBERT MAHONEY et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ERIC HOLDER et al., Defendants

Page 1216

For Officer Robert Mahoney, Officer Sjon C Stevens, E-Filing/Service, Officer Cliff Borjeson, Officer Christopher Myers, Officer Bridget Hillan, Officer Lance Basney, Officer Salvatore DiTusa, Officer Clarke D Chase, Officer Joseph Stankovich, Officer Weldon C Boyland, Officer John L Farrar, Officer Dale W Umpleby, Officer Richard A McAuliffe, Officer George Baseley, Officer David M Harrington, Officer Henry Feldman, Officer Gilles Montaron, Officer Robert Stevenson, E-Service Only, Officer Joshua Goodwin, Officer Ryan Kannard, Officer Nathan Lemberg, Officer Jeff Mitchell, Officer Robert B Brown, Officer Ernest T Hall, Officer Robert Burk, Officer Adam Beatty, Officer Tomas Trykar, Officer Brien Escalante, Officer Karen G Pio, Officer Michael Gonzalez, Officer Steve Kim, Officer Ennis Roberson, Officer Leroy Outlaw, Officer Kieran Barton, Officer Jonathan Reese, Officer Eugene Schubeck, E-Service Only, Officer Sean Hamlin, Officer Shannon Waldorf, Officer Jeffrey Swenson, Officer Michael Spaulding, E-Filing/Service, Officer Tabitha Sexton, E-Filing/Service, Officer Steven Stone, E-Filing/Service, Officer Liliya A Nesteruk, Officer Todd M Nelson, Officer Timothy Jones, Detective Theresa Emerick, E-Filing/Service, Sgt Ariel Vela, Officer Michael A Larned, E-Filing/Service, Officer Derek B Norton, E-Filing/Service, Officer Jason Dewey, Officer David White, Officer Gretchen Hughes, Officer Trent Schroeder, Officer Audi A Acuesta, Officer Steve Clark, Officer Steven L Berg, Officer Erik Johnson, Officer Vernon Kelley, Officer Shelly San Miguel, Officer Christopher J Anderson, Officer Suzanne M Parton, Officer Eric F Whitehead, Officer Alan Richards, Officer Ron Willis, Officer A Sheheen, Officer Randall Higa, Officer Tim Owens, Officer Tyler Getts, E-Service Only, Officer Adam Elias, Officer Jon Emerick, E-Filing/Service, Officer Louis Chan, Sgt Paul Pendergrass, Officer AJ Marks, Sgt Ron Martin, Officer Rusty L Leslie, Officer TJ San Miguel, Officer Jeffrey C Page, Officer Ryan Ellis, Officer Jack Bailey, Officerf Alfred RI Warner, E-Filing/Service, Officer Michael R Washington, Officer Nina M Jones, E-Filing/Service, Officer Anthony Jones Reynolds, Officer Richard Heintz, Officerf Curtis Gerry, Officer Adolph Torrescano, Officer Curt E Wilson, E-Filing/Service, Officer James G Thomsen, Officer Richard W Pruitt, E-Filing/Service, Detective Donald L Waters, E-Filing/Service, Officer Anthony J Reynolds, Officer Jonard A Legaspi, E-Filing/Service, Plaintiffs: Athan E Tramountanas, SHORT CRESSMAN & BURGESS, SEATTLE, WA.

Officer Terry Whalen, Plaintiff, Pro se, SEATTLE, WA.

Officer Timothy J Wear, Plaintiff, Pro se, SEATTLE, WA.

Officer Jeffery Johnson, Plaintiff, Pro se, SEATTLE, WA.

Officer Brett Willet, Plaintiff, Pro se, SEATTLE, WA.

Officer Austin Davis, Plaintiff, Pro se, SEATTLE, WA.

Officer Cynthia Whitlatch, Plaintiff, Pro se, SEATTLE, WA.

Officer Aaron Stoltz, Plaintiff, Pro se, SEATTLE, WA.

Sgt Theodore G. Visaya, Plaintiff, Pro se, SEATTLE, WA.

For City of Seattle, including the Seattle Police Department, the Seattle Police Monitor Team, and the Seattle Attorney's Office, Defendant: Gregory Colin Narver, SEATTLE CITY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, SEATTLE, WA.

For Ed Murray, individually and in his official capacity, Mayor, City of Seattle, Peter Holmes, individually and in his official capacity, Seattle's City Attorney, Defendants: Gregory Colin Narver, LEAD ATTORNEY, SEATTLE CITY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, SEATTLE, WA.

For Merrick Bobb, individually and in his offical capacity, Seattle Police Monitor, Defendant: Bradley S Keller, Nicholas Ryan-Lang, BYRNES KELLER CROMWELL LLP, SEATTLE, WA.

Page 1217

ORDER ON MOTIONS TO DISMISS

Marsha J. Pechman, Chief United States District Judge.

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant Merrick Bobb's Motion to Dismiss on quasi-judicial immunity grounds (Dkt. No. 19) and Defendants City of Seattle, Mayor Ed Murray, and City Attorney Peter Holmes's Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim (Dkt. No. 25). Certain represented Plaintiffs responded to the Motions, while the remaining pro se Plaintiffs failed to respond. Having reviewed the motions, the Represented Plaintiffs' Responses (Dkt. Nos. 36, 59), Defendant Bobb's Reply (Dkt. No. 54), the City Defendants' Reply (Dkt. No. 62), and all related papers, the Court hereby GRANTS both Motions and DISMISSES the case with prejudice.

Summary

In this case, certain officers with the Seattle Police Department are challenging a Use of Force Policy adopted in response to an earlier lawsuit filed against the City of Seattle by the United States Department of Justice. In the earlier lawsuit, the Department of Justice claimed that the Seattle Police Department engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive use of force. As a condition of settlement, the City of Seattle agreed to create new policies aimed at preventing this pattern from repeating. One of the key players in creating the Use of Force Policy was Merrick Bobb, a " Monitor" appointed as an agent of the court to assist in the policy-drafting process, among other tasks. Although many groups gave feedback as the Use of

Page 1218

Force Policy was being developed, individual officers of the Seattle Police Department were not a party to the lawsuit or the ensuing negotiations.

The officers now argue the new Use of Force Policy violates their constitutional rights by constraining their options in defending themselves against potentially dangerous suspects. They also argue that the way the Use of Force Policy was drafted violates the Constitution. They ask the Court to stop the implementation of the Use of Force Policy, to declare the Use of Force Policy unconstitutional, and to award them money damages.

As the Court explains in greater detail below, the officers' constitutional arguments are not supported by the text of the Constitution or case law interpreting the Constitution. In addition, the officers cannot sue the court-appointed Monitor Merrick Bobb because he has " absolute immunity" from lawsuits relating to his actions assisting in the resolution of the earlier lawsuit. This immunity is known as " quasi-judicial" because it is derived from the immunity given to judges, and Merrick Bobb is entitled to it both because he was appointed as an agent of a judge and because he was engaged in activities that parallel those of a judge. Because the officers' case is not supported by the Constitution or case law, the Court dismisses the lawsuit.

Background

The Represented Plaintiffs and Plaintiffs representing themselves are police officers employed by the Seattle Police Department (" SPD" ) who have filed suit to challenge the Use of Force Policy (" Policy" ) adopted by the City of Seattle (" City" ) pursuant to a consent decree and settlement with the United States Department of Justice (" DOJ" ). (Dkt. No. 13 at 3-4; see Case No. C12-1282-JLR, United States v. City of Seattle.) In the first lawsuit, the Department of Justice claimed that after " an extensive investigation of the Seattle Police Department [ . . .], the United States [ ] determined that SPD engages in patterns or practices of using unlawful force that systematically deny the people of Seattle their constitutional rights." (Case No. C12-1282-JLR, Compl. & DOJ Report, Dkt. No. 1 at 2, cited in Am. Compl., Dkt. No. 13 at 3.) The settlement agreement and its central components, including the use of force policy it pledged to produce, had the " goal of addressing the policies, procedures, training, and oversight that the United States alleges contributed to a pattern or practice of constitutional violations." (See Case No. C12-1282-JLR, Joint Motion and Proposed Order for Approval of Settlement Agreement, Dkt. No. 3 at 2-3, cited in Am. Compl., Dkt. No. 13 at 3-4; see also Settlement Agreement, Ryan-Lang Decl., Dkt. No. 12-1 at 17-18, cited in Am. Compl. Dkt. No. 13 at 3-4; id., Memorandum Submitting Use of Force Policy, Dkt. No. 12-2 at 57-58, cited in Am. Compl., Dkt. No. 13 at 4.) The agreement included a plan for a ...


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