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Soule v. City of Edmonds

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

June 19, 2015

SHELDON SOULE, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF EDMONDS, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

THOMAS S. ZILLY, District Judge.

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on a motion for summary judgment, docket no. 37, brought by defendants The Taste of Edmonds, The Edmonds Chamber of Commerce, and The Taste of Edmonds Beer Garden Operators (John and Jane Does), collectively, the "Commerce Defendants." Having reviewed all materials filed in support of, and in opposition to, [1] the pending motion for summary judgment, the Court enters the following order.

Background

Plaintiff Sheldon Soule alleges that he was injured during the course of his arrest by members of the City of Edmonds Police Department on August 11, 2012, after he undisputedly assaulted another man named Brian Baker.[2] Plaintiff asserts that the arrest occurred around 1:00 a.m. At least three hours earlier, an event held at the civic playfield in Edmonds, known as The Taste of Edmonds, had concluded. See Cooke Decl. at ¶ 10 (docket no. 39). The Taste of Edmonds is an annual festival organized by The Edmonds Chamber of Commerce. Id. at ¶ 1. The Taste of Edmonds had ceased serving beer at 9:30 p.m. on August 10, 2012. See id. at ¶ 12.

Plaintiff did not attend The Taste of Edmonds, and he has provided no admissible evidence to indicate that Baker participated in the event or consumed any alcoholic beverage supplied at The Taste of Edmonds.[3] The altercation between plaintiff and Baker occurred several blocks away from the site of The Taste of Edmonds. Moreover, the members of the City of Edmonds Police Department who arrested plaintiff were, at the time of the arrest, on duty as police officers and were not providing security for The Taste of Edmonds. See Ex. B. to Soule Decl. (docket no. 45). Notwithstanding the absence of any connection between plaintiff's arrest and The Taste of Edmonds, plaintiff has asserted claims against the Commerce Defendants for violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and negligence.

Discussion

The Court shall grant summary judgment if no genuine issue of material fact exists and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). To survive a motion for summary judgment, the adverse party must present "affirmative evidence, " which "is to be believed" and from which all "justifiable inferences" are to be favorably drawn. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 257 (1986). When the record, taken as a whole, could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, summary judgment is warranted. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (Rule 56(c) "mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.").

The Commerce Defendants are entitled to summary judgment. As a matter of law, The Edmonds Chamber of Commerce, which is a private organization, does not, simply by operating The Taste of Edmonds, qualify as a "state actor" for purposes of § 1983 liability. See Villegas v. Gilroy Garlic Festival Ass'n, 541 F.3d 950, 954-57 (9th Cir. 2008). Plaintiff's assertion that the Commerce Defendants were acting under color of law in connection with plaintiff's arrest is belied by the undisputed fact that the police officers involved in the arrest were, at the time of the arrest, on duty for the City of Edmonds Police Department, and were not engaged in any security functions related to The Taste of Edmonds, which had concluded at least three hours earlier. Plaintiff's § 1983 claim against the Commerce Defendants is therefore DISMISSED with prejudice.

In addition, as a matter of law, plaintiff cannot establish a claim for negligence against the Commerce Defendants. Plaintiff did not attend The Taste of Edmonds, and thus, the Commerce Defendants have no liability to him as a business invitee. Plaintiff has offered no evidence that the Commerce Defendants served alcohol to Baker or that they did so despite any apparent intoxication on Baker's part. See Faust v. Albertson, 167 Wn.2d 531, 538, 222 P.3d 1208 (2009) (liability for overservice of alcohol is based on an "apparently under the influence" standard (citing RCW 66.44.200)). Plaintiff's negligence claim against the Commerce Defendants is therefore DISMISSED with prejudice.

Conclusion

For the foregoing reasons, the Commerce Defendants' motion for summary judgment, docket no. 37, is GRANTED, and plaintiff's claims against defendants The Taste of Edmonds, The Edmonds Chamber of Commerce, and The Taste of Edmonds Beer Garden Operators (John and Jane Does) are DISMISSED with prejudice.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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