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Iceberg v. Martin

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

January 27, 2017

SCOTT FRANCIS ICEBERG, Plaintiff,
v.
ANN MARTIN, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS AND DENYING LEAVE TO AMEND

          JAMES L. ROBART United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the court are the following motions: (1) Defendants Kevin W. Quigley, Pat Lashway, Andrew Aquirre, Ann Martin, and Tracy Wilson's (collectively, Defendants”) motion to dismiss Plaintiff Scott Francis Iceberg's third amended complaint (MTD (Dkt. # 36)), (2) Defendants' motion for a protective order concerning certain discovery requests from Mr. Iceberg (MPO (Dkt. # 43)), (3) Defendants' motion for an extension of certain case schedule deadlines (MFE (Dkt. # 54), and (4) Mr. Iceberg's motion for leave to amend his third amended complaint (MFL (Dkt. # 42)). The court has considered the motions, the memoranda of the parties filed in support of and opposition to the motions, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully advised, [1] the court GRANTS Defendants' motion to dismiss, DENIES Mr. Iceberg's motion to amend his third amended complaint, and DISMISSES Mr. Iceberg's federal claims with prejudice and without leave to amend. The court further declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Mr. Iceberg's state law claims and DISMISSES those claims without prejudice. The court further DENIES Defendants' motions for a protective order and an extension of certain case schedule deadlines as moot.

         II. BACKGROUND

         In total, Mr. Iceberg has submitted five complaints in this action. He initiated this action with his original complaint (see Compl.), filed three subsequent amended complaints (see FAC (Dkt. # 7); SAC (Dkt. # 27); TAC (Dkt. # 34)), and proposes filing a fourth amended complaint (see Prop. 4th Am. Compl. (Dkt. # 42-1)). As the court discusses the history of these filings, it primarily describes how each successive complaint changed from the prior complaint, rather than describes each complaint separately and in total.

         Mr. Iceberg, who is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis (see IFP Order (Dkt. # 2)), filed his initial complaint on August 7, 2015 (see Compl.). In his initial complaint, // // Mr. Iceberg sued the “State of Washington DSHS/DVR, ”[2] as well as Ann Martin and Tracy Wilson, who are both employees of DVR. (Id. at 1-2; see Mot. for More Def. Stmt. at 2 (“Mr. Iceberg alleges that DVR and several of its employees have violated his rights . . ., naming each Defendant in their official capacities and two defendants, Ann Martin and Tracy Wilson, in their personal capacities as well.”).) In his initial complaint, Mr. Iceberg alleged that (1) he is disabled, (2) he is qualified to receive services from Defendants, (3) he “repeatedly requested” an accommodation from Defendants that they allow him to communicate with them primarily through email, and (4) Defendants refused to accommodate him. (Compl. at 2.) He alleges that Defendants took “adverse actions” against him by denying access to services that he is qualified to receive. (Id. at 3.) He alleged that Defendants' actions violated the Rehabilitation Act, and he also asserts a claim under state law for intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Id.) He sought $200, 000.00 in damages. (Id. at 4.)

         On August 25, 2015, Mr. Iceberg filed his first amended complaint. (See FAC.) In his first amended complaint, Mr. Iceberg dropped the “State of Washington DSHS/DVR” as a defendant, but added Mr. Quigley, “in his official capacity as Secretary of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services” and Mr. Aguirre, “in his official capacity as Director of the Division of Vocation [sic] Rehabilitation.” (Id. at 1.) He also clarified that he was suing Ms. Martin and Ms. Wilson in both their individual and official capacities. (Id.)

         In his first amended complaint, Mr. Iceberg alleged that he “is a qualified disabled individual under the [Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”)] and Rehabilitation Act.”[3] (Id. at 2.) He alleged that he is “qualified . . . to receive services from Defendants, ” “repeatedly requested a reasonable accommodation, ” and was “ignored” by Defendants. (Id. at 3.) He alleged that Defendants took adverse actions against him by telling him that he “is too insane and delusional to attend school, ” telling him that “he isn't qualified for services because he causes too much trouble, ” calling him “adversarial, ” “[e]nding meetings abruptly, ” telling him that “he could easily be locked up, ” telling him that “he isn't really disabled, ” and ultimately closing his case and denying him services. (Id.)

         Mr. Iceberg also asserted claims for “failure to accommodate, ” “retaliation, ” and “disparate impact” under both the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the ADA and for “disability” and religious discrimination under 18 U.S.C. § 1983. (Id. at 3-6.) He further asserted a claim under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, alleging that Defendants' requirement that he submit to a “Psychology/Psychiatric evaluation” was incompatible with his sincerely held religious beliefs as a Christian Scientist. (Id. at 5.) In this regard, Mr. Iceberg alleged that Ms. Wilson laughed at him and told him “Christian Science is not a real religion.” (Id. at 6.) Finally, he increased his damages demand to $300, 000.00. (Id. at 7.)

         On December 8, 2015, Defendants filed a motion for a more definite statement. (See Mot. for More Def. Stmt.) On December 24, 2015, Mr. Iceberg filed a motion to amend his first amended complaint “to respond to the alleged deficiencies described in Defendants' [m]otion . . ., as well as to make other needed amendments.” (MTA FAC (Dkt. # 21) at 1.) Defendants did not respond to Mr. Iceberg's motion. (See generally Dkt.) On March 31, 2016, the court granted Mr. Iceberg's motion and denied Defendants' motion as moot. (3/31/16 Order (Dkt. # 26) at 4.) The court, however, stated that its ruling was “without prejudice to Defendants' re-filing a Rule 12 motion for a more definite statement or to dismiss if warranted with respect to Mr. Iceberg's second amended complaint.” (Id. at 4-5.)

         Mr. Iceberg filed his second amended complaint on April 6, 2016. (SAC (Dkt. # 27.) Mr. Iceberg added some factual detail by including some dates in his second amended complaint. (See Id. at 3.) He alleged that from approximately October 2014, to July 2015, he received services from Defendants and made numerous requests that Defendants grant him the accommodation of communicating with them “primarily via email.” (Id.) He also specified that he made his accommodation requests to Ms. Wilson and Ms. Martin, and they ignored his requests and “refused to engage in an interactive process . . . in order to find an accommodation that would allow [him] to fully enjoy the services offered by DVR.” (Id.) He specified that Ms. Wilson made the particular adverse statements that he alleged in his first amended complaint and that Ms. Wilson had closed his file. (Id. at 4, 6-7.) He made no specific allegations against Mr. Aguirre and Mr. Quigley, however, except to identify them as officials with DVR and to allege that their actions were “indifferent.” (Id. at 2, 7.) Much of the content that Mr. Iceberg added to his second amended complaint consisted of legal conclusions. (See generally id.)

         On April 20, 2016, Defendants filed their second motion for a more definite statement. (2d Mot. for More Def. Stmt. (Dkt. # 28).) Mr. Iceberg did not respond. (See generally Dkt.) On June 16, 2016, the court granted Defendants' motion. (6/16/16 Order (Dkt. # 29).) The court initially ordered Mr. Iceberg to file a third amended complaint no later than July 1, 2016 (id. at 8), but then granted him an extension until August 14, 2016 (7/19/16 Order (Dkt. # 33) at 4-5).

         Mr. Iceberg filed his third amended complaint on August 8, 2016, and it is now the operative complaint in this proceeding. (See TAC.) In his third amended complaint, Mr. Iceberg added Ms. Lashway as a defendant “in her official capacity as [the] current Secretary of [DSHS].” (Id. at 2.) Although Mr. Iceberg alleged in his first and second amended complaints that he was “a qualified individual under the meaning of the ADA and Rehabilitation Act” or “within the meaning of the ADA, and [the Washington Law Against Discrimination (“WLAD”)].”[4] (FAC at3; SAC at 3.) Mr. Iceberg now alleges simply that he is “disabled” and “a current recipient of Social Security Disability Insurance.” (TAC at 3.) He omits any specific description of his alleged disability. (Id.) Mr. Iceberg also alleges that he is “qualified to seek services from DVR” and continues to seek such services, but Defendants refuse to respond to him. (Id.)

         In his third amended complaint, Mr. Iceberg also expands the relevant time period from October 2014, through July 2015, to October 2014, through August 2016. (Id.) He further alleges that he made his request for an accommodation to both Ms. Wilson and Ms. Martin but never received a response. (Id.) He also alleges that Defendants have “refused to provide services from [DVR]” since July 2015. (Id.) Mr. Iceberg also asserts new claims under WLAD for failure to accommodate and for retaliation. (Id. at 6.) Much of the remainder of Mr. Iceberg's third amended complaint, like his previous complaint, consists of legal conclusions. (See generally id.) Finally, Mr. Iceberg increases his damages demand from $300, 000.00 to $1, 000, 000.00. (Id. at 7; see also SAC at 8; FAC at 7.)

         On August 22, 2106, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Mr. Iceberg's third amended complaint, which was properly noted their motion for September 16, 2016. (See generally MTD); Local Rules W.D. Wash. LCR 7(d)(3) (indicating that a party should note a motion to dismiss on the fourth Friday after filing). Mr. Iceberg's response to Defendants' motion was due on September 12, 2016. See Id. (indicating that any opposition papers to a motion to dismiss “shall be filed an served not later than the Monday before the noting date). Mr. Iceberg did not timely respond to Defendants' motion to dismiss. (See generally Dkt.) Instead, Mr. Iceberg requested an extension of time to file his response (MFE (Dkt. # 37)), and the court granted his request (11/1/16 Order (Dkt. # 48)). Mr. Iceberg filed his response to Defendants' motion to dismiss on November 9, 2016.[5] (MTD Resp. (Dkt. # 50).)

         On September 20, 2016, Mr. Iceberg filed a motion for leave to file a fourth amended complaint “to respond to the alleged deficiencies described in Defendants' [m]otion, as well as to make other needed amendments.”[6] (See generally MFL at 1.) On October 3, 2016, Defendants timely filed a response to Mr. Iceberg's motion for leave to amend his third amended complaint. (MFL Resp. (Dkt. # 47).)

         Mr. Iceberg's proposed fourth amended complaint adds more legal conclusions, but few new factual allegations. (See generally Prop. 4th Am. Compl.) In his proposed fourth amended complaint, Mr. Iceberg eliminates Mr. Aguirre as a defendant and amends his allegations to sue the remaining Defendants in their individual capacities, as well their official capacities. (See Id. at 3.) Except for these modifications and the addition myriad legal conclusions, the factual allegations contained in Mr. Iceberg's proposed fourth amended complaint remain largely unchanged. (See generally id.)

         Following Mr. Iceberg's motion to amend his third amended complaint, Defendants also filed a motion for a protective order with respect to certain discovery requests issued by Mr. Iceberg (see generally MPO) and a motion to extend certain case schedule deadlines (see generally MFE). The court now considers the parties' motions.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Standards for a Motion to Dismiss

         When considering a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court construes the complaint in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Livid Holdings Ltd. v. Salomon Smith Barney, Inc., 416 F.3d 940, 946 (9th Cir. 2005). The court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Wyler Summit P'ship v. Turner Broad. Sys., Inc., 135 F.3d 658, 661 (9th Cir. 1998). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see Telesaurus VPC, LLC v. Power, 623 F.3d 998, 1003 (9th Cir. 2010). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “Where a complaint pleads fact that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement to relief.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) can be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         As noted above, Mr. Iceberg's complaints are rife with legal conclusions. The court need not accept as true a legal conclusion presented as a factual allegation. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Although the pleading standard of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 does not require “detailed factual allegations, ” it demands more than “an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). A pleading that offers only “labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” will not survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Id. A complaint does not survive dismissal where “it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). In addition, “[a] plaintiff suing multiple defendants ‘must allege the basis of his claim against each defendant to satisfy Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), which ...


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