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Steward-Baker v. City of Seattle

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

March 9, 2017

AIESHA S. STEWARD-BAKER, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF SEATTLE, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Barbara Jacobs Rothstein U.S. District Court Judge.

         Before the Court is a motion for summary judgment by Defendants City of Seattle, John Diaz, Officer Matthew Chase and Officer Jeremy Pinkerton seeking dismissal of the remaining claims against them under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff stipulates to the dismissal of all claims against the City of Seattle, the Seattle Police Department[1], Michael Eastman, Jason Bender and John Diaz, but opposes the remainder of the motion.

         Plaintiff's lawsuit against Defendants Chase and Pinkerton (members of the Seattle Police Department; collectively “Defendants”) concerns her allegations that the officers violated her substantive due process rights under the U.S. Constitution by forcing her into a situation of known danger and then failing to protect her. Defendants deny her claims.

         Having reviewed all the pleadings and attached declarations and exhibits, the applicable case law and the relevant parts of the record, the Court does not find that oral argument would be useful in further illuminating the issues and rules as follows:

         IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion to dismiss her claims against Michael Eastman, Jason Bender, John Diaz, and the City of Seattle is GRANTED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants' motion for summary judgment of dismissal of all remaining claims against them is GRANTED; the § 1983 claims against Defendants are DISMISSED with prejudice.

         The Court's reasoning follows.

         I. Background

         The following facts are not in dispute:

         On the afternoon of January 28, 2010, Plaintiff and a friend came by bus into downtown Seattle and met up with some other friends at Westlake Center. (Dkt. No. 89, Decl. of Miller, Ex. A, Deposition of A. Steward-Baker [“Steward-Baker Depo”] at 9:18-23, 141:23-143:7, 146:24-148:11, 149:10-16.) Shortly after arriving there, one of Plaintiff's friends (Mark Skinner) got into a fight with Defendant Quashawn Monroe in a park on top of the Washington State Convention Center. (Steward-Baker Depo at 143:21-144:9.) Monroe and Plaintiff had a history of animosity and Plaintiff felt threatened by him. (Id. at 152:17-153:15) During the course of the fight on top of the Convention Center, Monroe advanced on Plaintiff and she maced him. (Id. at 154:22-155:14.) Monroe became upset, yelled at Plaintiff and said he was going to kill her. (Id. at 164:5-13.)

         At that point, Plaintiff and a group of her friends left the area, took a bus to the Central District and stayed at the Garfield Teen Life Center for one or two hours. (Id. at 160:25-161:16, 240:13-15.) Following that, the group took a bus back into downtown Seattle and returned to the Westlake Center area. (Id. at 167:6-18, 240:20-242:5.) They entered into the Macy's department store near Westlake Center and saw Monroe and a group of his friends exiting the store as they were entering. (Id. 167:13-168:23.) Monroe's group re-entered the store approximately two minutes later and Monroe again approached Plaintiff, who dodged between racks of clothes as he threatened again to kill her. (Id. at 168:24-170:10.)

         Shortly after this confrontation began, Defendants (having seen a large group of juveniles run into the store) entered the building. (Dkt. No. 91, Decl. of Pinkerton ¶ 3, Ex. A [“Pinkerton Interview”] at 8-9; Dkt. No. 93, Decl. of Chase ¶ 3, Ex. A (“Chase Interview”) at 5-6.) Entering the store, Defendants saw a verbal altercation between two groups of young people; one containing Plaintiff and her friends, the other Monroe and his friends. (Chase Interview at 5, Pinkerton Interview at 8-9.)[2] Plaintiff says the officers told Monroe's group to leave the store (Steward-Baker Depo at 170:20-172:16); the officers recall telling everyone to leave. (Chase Interview at 6, Pinkerton Interview at 9.) Monroe's group left before Plaintiff's, but before Plaintiff could leave, Monroe's group re-entered the store from the other side of the building. (Steward-Baker Depo at 175:6-176:16.) Plaintiff went and stood by the police, and Defendants again told her to leave and go home. (Id. at 186:3-17.) As she was standing with Defendants, a young woman from Monroe's group named Destyni approached Plaintiff and wanted to fight her. Defendants made all of them leave the store. (Id. at 180:14-181:23.)

         Monroe's group, after exiting Macy's, gathered outside of a McDonald's restaurant across the street. (Id. at 192:8-12.)[3] In order to get to her bus, Plaintiff needed to enter a bus tunnel which was also across the street from the McDonald's, on the “Macy's side” of the street. (Id. at 192:14-193:6) Between the time Plaintiff exited Macy's and the time she made her way to the bus tunnel, Plaintiff spoke with Defendants.[4] Plaintiff asked them if they would escort her to her bus stop. The officers declined to do so;[5] Plaintiff's recollection is that they told her “[t]hey don't have time to do that for kids starting trouble.” (Id. at 193:11-20.)

         Plaintiff entered the bus tunnel, intending to catch a bus home. (Id. at 199:17-20, 201:2-16.) Shortly afterwards, Monroe's group also appeared in the tunnel (Id. at 202:12-24) and a young woman in the group named Daysha approached her and assaulted her. (In addition to being part of a group antagonistic to Plaintiff on that particular day, Daysha and Plaintiff also had a “history” which included Plaintiff macing Daysha a few months prior, although the two had encountered each other in the interim without incident; Id. at 225:17-232:11.) Plaintiff ended up curled up on the ground as Daysha continued to attack her. (Id. at 203:18-205:5.) At the conclusion of the assault, property belonging to Plaintiff (including her cell phone) was taken. (Id. at Ex. 6; Dkt. No. 53 at ¶ 8.)

         Plaintiff had further contact with Defendants following the assault, but the Court finds the details of those interactions irrelevant to the issues as defined by Plaintiff's claims.

         II. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence, when viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, demonstrates “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Galen v. Cnty of L.A., 477 F.3d 652, 658 (9th Cir. 2007). The court is “required to view the facts and draw reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the [non-moving] party.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007).

         The moving party bears the initial burden of showing there is no genuine issue of material fact and that he or she is entitled to prevail as a matter of law. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. If the moving party meets its burden, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to “make a showing sufficient to establish a genuine dispute of material fact regarding the existence of the essential elements of his case that he must prove at trial.” Galen, 477 F.3d at 658.

         III. ...


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