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Irving v. National Railroad Passenger Corp.

United States District Court, Western District of Washington, Tacoma

January 12, 2015

ROBERT GAGE IRVING, Plaintiff,
v.
NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORP., et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT CITY OF TACOMA’S MOTION FOR ATTORNEY’S FEES

BENJAMIN H. SETTLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant City of Tacoma’s (“City”) motion for attorney’s fees (Dkt. 61). The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion and the remainder of the file and hereby grants the motion in part and denies it in part for the reasons stated herein.

I. PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL HISTORY

On August 8, 2010, Plaintiff Robert Irving (“Irving”) was hit by an Amtrak train passing through Titlow Park. Dkt. 46, Affidavit of Jean Homan (“Homan Aff.”), Ex. 2. Titlow Park is owned, operated, and controlled by Metro Parks Tacoma. Homan Aff., Exs. 12–15. Metro Parks Tacoma and the City are separate legal entities. Id.

On August 5, 2013, Irving filed suit against Defendants National Railroad Passenger Corp., BNSF Railway Co., and the City in Pierce County Superior Court. Dkt. 1, Ex. 2. On August 20, 2013, the case was removed to this Court. Dkt. 1.

In his complaint, Irving alleged that the City was negligent by failing to post appropriate warnings and by failing to construct a pedestrian barrier along the tracks in Titlow Park. Id. ¶ 24. Irving’s claim against the City was premised on his assertion that “Titlow Park is owned and/or operated by the City of Tacoma.” Id. ¶ 15. Irving, however, acknowledged in his complaint that Metro Parks Tacoma and the City might be separate legal entities. Id. ¶ 6.

Between August 6, 2013 and October 7, 2013, the City informed Irving on several occasions that the City did not own, operate, or control Titlow Park. Homan Aff. ¶¶ 5–7, 9–10, 13–14. The City also informed Irving that Metro Parks Tacoma and the City are separate legal entities. Id.

On October 7, 2013, Irving filed an amended complaint, which added Metro Parks Tacoma as a defendant. Dkt. 16. Irving’s claim against the City remained virtually the same. Id.

On October 23, 2014, the City moved for summary judgment. Dkt. 45. On November 21, 2014, Irving stipulated to the dismissal of his claim against the City. Dkt. 58.

On December 4, 2014, the City filed a motion for attorney’s fees. Dkt. 61. On December 15, 2014, Irving responded. Dkt. 64. On December 19, 2014, the City replied. Dkt. 66.

II. DISCUSSION

The City requests attorney’s fees in the amount of $18, 437.50 under RCW 4.84.185 and 28 U.S.C. § 1927. Dkt. 61. In response, Irving argues that attorney’s fees are inappropriate because his negligence claim against the City was not frivolous. Dkt. 64 at 3. Alternatively, Irving argues that the City’s requested amount of fees should be reduced to only those necessary for the City to obtain dismissal from the case. Id. at 9.

A. RCW 4.84.185

The City seeks attorney’s fees under RCW 4.84.185. Dkt. 61. The City argues that Irving’s negligence claim was not supported by any ...


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