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Mason v. United States

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

February 10, 2015

PATTI MASON, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND TO DISMISS

MARSHA J. PECHMAN, Chief District Judge.

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendants' motions for summary judgment and to dismiss. (Dkt. Nos. 21, 27.) Having considered the motions and all related papers, the Court GRANTS the motions.

Background

This is a slip and fall case. Plaintiff Patti Mason allegedly slipped and fell on or near an unmarked metal cover in the sidewalk outside of a federal building in downtown Seattle, and suffered injuries as a result. (Dkt. No. 1.) Mason and her husband, Eddie Mason, filed suit the United States and federal agencies and the City of Seattle and city agencies for negligence and for loss of consortium. (Id.)[1]

Arguing that Plaintiffs cannot establish proximate cause, the existence of a dangerous condition, or that Defendants had notice of any dangerous condition, Defendants move for summary judgment on Mason's negligence claims, and also move to dismiss Mason's husband's loss of consortium claim for failure to file the requisite administrative complaint before filing this suit. (Dkt. Nos. 21, 27.)

Discussion

I. Legal Standards

A. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is proper where "the movant shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In assessing whether a party has met its burden, the underlying evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

B. Motion to Dismiss under Red. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1)

A complaint must be dismissed under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) if, considering the factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the action: (1) does not arise under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States, or does not fall within one of the other enumerated categories of Article III, Section 2, of the Constitution; (2) is not a case or controversy within the meaning of the Constitution; or (3) is not one described by any jurisdictional statute. Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 198 (1962); D.G. Rung Indus., Inc. v. Tinnerman, 626 F.Supp. 1062, 1063 (W.D. Wash. 1986).

C. Negligence

"The mere occurrence of an accident and an injury does not necessarily lead to an inference of negligence." Marshall v. Bally's Pacwest, Inc., 94 Wn.App. 372, 377 (1999). In order to prove actionable negligence, a plaintiff must prove four basic elements: (1) the existence of a duty, (2) breach of that duty, (3) resulting injury, and (4) proximate cause. Tincani v. Inland Empire, 124 Wn.2d 121, 128 (1994). "Even if negligence is clearly established, [defendants] ...


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