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Staats v. State

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

January 24, 2017

MICHELLE K. STAATS and ROBERT A. STAATS, and the marital community comprised there of, A.S. YOB 2007, a minor child; A.S. YOB 2001, a minor child; D.S., a minor child; and N.S., a minor child, Plaintiffs,
v.
STATE OF WASHINGTON, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON INTENTIONAL MISCONDUCT / SEGREGATION OF DAMAGES

          THOMAS O. RICE Chief United States District Judge

         BEFORE THE COURT is Defendant State of Washington et al.'s Motion for [Partial] Summary Judgment on Intentional Misconduct / Segregation of Damages (ECF No. 36); Defendant Adrianna Payne's Motion for Joinder in State Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 41); Plaintiffs' (1) Motion for Leave to File Response to Summary Judgment Motion (ECF No. 44), (2) Motion for Order to File Exhibit A in Support of Plaintiffs' Response in Opposition to Defendants Motion for Summary Judgment Under Seal (ECF No. 47), and (3) Motion to Expedite the hearing for the Motion to File Exhibit A (ECF No. 46).

         The Court has reviewed the motions and the file therein, and is fully informed. As discussed further below, Defendants' Motions for Partial Summary Judgment (ECF Nos. 36; 41) are GRANTED. The Plaintiffs' motion to file a late response and Exhibit A under seal (ECF Nos. 44, 47) are DENIED for failure to show excusable neglect under Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(b)(1)(B). Plaintiffs' motion to expedite (ECF No. 46) is DENIED as MOOT.

         BACKGROUND

         The instant suit arises out of a foster parent arrangement gone wrong, where the State's attempt to protect the children by taking them from their parents and placing them with foster parents ended in tragedy when one of the foster parents, Mathew Payne, molested the children. ECF No. 1-2. Plaintiffs, which include the children and the biological parents of the victim-children, filed suit against the State and foster parents (Defendant Mathew Payne and spouse), asserting, inter alia, a claim of negligence against the State. ECF No. 1-2.

         While discovery was under way, the State submitted a Motion for Summary Judgment on Intentional Misconduct / Segregation of Damages (ECF No. 36) on November 23, 2017. Defendant Adrianna Payne filed a Joinder in State Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Intentional Misconduct / Segregation of Damages (ECF No. 41). Plaintiff submitted its untimely Response to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 42) on December 30, 2016. On the same day, Plaintiff submitted a Motion for Leave to File Response to Summary Judgment Motion (ECF No. 44), a Motion to Expedite (ECF No. 46) the request, a Motion for Order to File Exhibit A Under Seal (ECF No. 47), and Exhibit A under seal (ECF No. 45). The State filed its Response in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to file Response to Summary Judgment Motion (ECF No. 48) to which Defendant Adrianna Payne Joined (ECF No. 49), requesting the Court not allow the submission, or in the alternative give the State additional time to file a Reply. Plaintiffs then filed a Reply to Defendant's Response (ECF No. 51).

         Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 36) requests the Court enter an order granting Defendants summary judgment on the defense of intentional misconduct and segregation of damages, requiring the finder of fact to apportion damages for injuries resulting from the intentional misconduct of Defendant Matthew Payne and from Plaintiffs' injuries resulting from the negligence of other entities, if any. ECF No. 36 at 2. In particular, Defendant requests that the Court issue an order that:

(1) Matthew Payne's molestation of A.S. (DOB 2001), N.S., and A.S. (DOB 2007) constitutes intentional misconduct conduct; and (2) As a matter of law, the finder of fact must segregate the Plaintiffs' damages resulting from Payne's intentional misconduct from damages resulting from the negligence of other entities, if any.

ECF No. 36 at 3.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Excusable Neglect for Late Filing

         Plaintiffs seek to file a late response to Defendants' motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 44. Plaintiffs contend “Due to a scheduling error the response was not filed timely. . . . This Motion is made pursuant to Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” Id. at 2. Rule 6(b)(1)(B) states in pertinent part:

When an act may or must be done within a specified time, the court may, for good cause, extend the time...on motion made after the time has expired if the party failed to act because of excusable neglect.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(b)(1)(B). The Supreme Court holds that excusable neglect “is at bottom an equitable [issue], taking account of all relevant circumstances surrounding the party's omission.” Briones v. Riviera Hotel & Casino, 116 F.3d 379, 381 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v. Brunswick Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 507 U.S. 380, 395 (1993)). The Supreme Court's analysis of “excusable neglect” in Pioneer is clearly applicable to Rule 6(b) within the Ninth Circuit. Comm. for Idaho's High Desert Inc. v. Yost, 92 F.3d 814, 824 n.4 (9th Cir. 1996). “To determine whether a party's failure to meet a deadline constitutes ‘excusable neglect, ' courts must apply a four-factor equitable test, examining: (1) the danger of prejudice to the opposing party; (2) the length of the delay and its potential impact on the proceedings; (3) the reason for the delay; and (4) whether the movant acted in good faith.” Ahanchian v. Xenon Pictures, Inc., 624 F.3d 1253, 1261 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v. Brunswick Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 507 U.S. 380, 395 (1993)); In re Veritas Software Corp., 496 F.3d 962, 973 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bateman v. U.S. Postal Serv., 231 F.3d 1220, 1223-24 (9th Cir. 2000) (attorney's reasons for his nearly month-long delay, the ...


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