Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hood v. King County

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

March 14, 2017

LUCI HOOD, Plaintiff,
KING COUNTY, et al., Defendants.


          Robert S. Lasnik United States District Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on the joint motion for summary judgment of defendants Highline Medical Center and Fairfax Hospital, Dkt. # 64, and on the joint motion for summary judgment of defendants King County, the King County Sheriff's Office, King County Sheriff's Deputies Scott Click, Carlos Bratcher, and Eric White, and King County Designated Mental Health Professional Gail Bonicalzi, Dkt. # 68. In this case, plaintiff Luci Hood seeks damages for harm allegedly suffered during her detention and involuntary treatment by King County, the two hospitals, and their respective employees. Those defendants ask the Court to dismiss all of the claims against them with prejudice. Having reviewed the memoranda, declarations, and exhibits submitted by the parties, [1] and having heard oral argument on the hospitals' motion, the Court finds and rules as follows.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In light of the sensitive nature of the facts underlying this case, the Court has filed the full version of this order under seal. An abbreviated summary of the facts appears in this unsealed order.

         In the days leading up to plaintiff Luci Hood's involuntary treatment, the King County Sheriff's Office received a series of calls from Ms. Hood's neighbors in White Center, Washington. After 10:00 p.m. on May 6, 2013, Dean Smotherman and Robert Tacker separately called 911 to report that their neighbor, Ms. Hood, was playing loud music in violation of the local noise ordinance. Dkt. # 73, ¶ 3. Mr. Smotherman informed the 911 dispatcher that Ms. Hood owned guns and had been frustrated with recent events in the neighborhood. Dkt. # 73, ¶ 3; id. at 5.

         Around 5:26 a.m. on May 7, 2013, Mr. Tacker called 911 to report that Ms. Hood was outside mowing her lawn with a gas-powered lawnmower. Dkt. # 70, ¶ 5; id. at 12. In response to Mr. Tacker's call, King County Sheriff's Deputy Juan Gil visited Ms. Hood's house, gave her a warning, and asked her to wait to mow her lawn until later in the day. Id. at ¶ 5; Dkt. # 73, ¶¶ 6-7. Though Ms. Hood responded with a “tirade, ” she turned off the lawnmower. Dkt. # 73, ¶ 7. Shortly after Deputy Gil left, however, Ms. Hood resumed mowing her lawn, and at 5:40 a.m. Mr. Tacker again called 911. Dkt. # 70, ¶ 6; id. at 14; Dkt. # 72, ¶ 5.

         King County Sheriff's Deputy Carlos Bratcher drove to the scene, where Mr. Tacker informed him that Ms. Hood had been on a “rant” over the past day or so due to another neighbor's decision to cut down a tree on that neighbor's property. Dkt. # 70, ¶ 7; id. at 9. Mr. Tacker told Deputy Bratcher that Ms. Hood had been playing loud music the night before, apparently to disturb her neighbors. As Deputy Bratcher was speaking to Mr. Tacker, he heard a woman's voice talking loudly and yelling out, “fuck you.” Ms. Hood emerged onto her front porch, but upon seeing Deputy Bratcher she immediately went back inside. Dkt. # 70, ¶ 7; id. at 9.

         Once King County Sheriff's Deputy Scott Click arrived to assist, Deputy Bratcher and Deputy Click knocked on Ms. Hood's door and asked her to open it so they could talk. Ms. Hood refused. Dkt. # 70, ¶ 8; id. at 9; Dkt. # 72, ¶ 6. The deputies could hear Ms. Hood yelling about having been attacked by pit bulls, calling her black neighbors criminals, and claiming that she had been accused of being a child molester because of her sexual orientation. Dkt. # 70, ¶ 8; id. at 9; Dkt. # 72, ¶ 6. Based on their experience and crisis intervention training, [2] Deputies Bratcher and Click believed that Ms. Hood was suffering from mental illness, and Deputy Bratcher called the King County mental health crisis line to advise them of the deputies' contact with Ms. Hood. The deputies did not believe that involuntary treatment was warranted at that time. After placing this call, Deputy Bratcher and Deputy Click departed. Dkt. # 70, ¶ 9; id. at 9; Dkt. # 72, ¶¶ 6-7.

         Shortly after the deputies left the area, Ms. Hood resumed her mowing. At 7:02 a.m., Mr. Tacker once again called 911. Dkt. # 70 at 16. Because it was then past 7:00 a.m., however, the 911 operator informed Mr. Tacker that the noise ordinance no longer applied. Id. at 17-18.

         Just after 9:00 a.m., 911 received a call from Kenneth Gurley, who reported that he had been hired to cut down a tree on Ms. Hood's street and that a woman was yelling at him for removing the tree. Dkt. # 70 at 19-21. Around the same time, 911 received a call from a woman in the same area reporting that her neighbors were “fighting over a tree.” Dkt. # 70 at 23. Deputies Bratcher and Click set out once again for Ms. Hood's house. Dkt. # 70, ¶ 11; Dkt. # 72, ¶ 8. Before they arrived, Mr. Gurley called 911 to report that the woman was threatening to break the tree-cutters' chainsaws with a baseball bat. The dispatcher told Mr. Gurley that officers were on the way. Dkt. # 70, ¶ 25.

         Ms. Hood testifies that on May 6, 2013, she researched the legality of cutting down the tree, and that a government employee informed her that the neighbor lacked a permit to fell the tree. Dkt. # 105, ¶¶ 4-5. The government employee told Ms. Hood that if workers arrived to take down the tree, Ms. Hood should take photographs to document this activity. Id., ¶ 5. When Ms. Hood heard the workers arrive around 9:00 a.m. on May 7, she opened her safe, took out her camera, and went outside to take pictures and video. Id., ¶ 8.

         When Deputies Bratcher and Click arrived around 9:15 a.m., they observed Ms. Hood “standing in the street screaming at the workers.” Dkt. # 72, ¶ 9; id. at 10. The deputies began interviewing Mr. Gurley and his crew, who stated that Ms. Hood was trying to stop them from cutting down the tree and had threatened to break their chainsaws with a baseball bat. Dkt. # 72, ¶ 9. Ms. Hood soon intervened and told the deputies that the workers did not have permission to cut down the tree. Deputy Bratcher noticed that Ms. Hood's demeanor was “loud and angry” and that her “statements did not track well.” Deputy Bratcher testified that Ms. Hood admitted to threatening the workers, Dkt. # 70, ¶¶ 12-13, and Deputy Click observed Ms. Hood step toward the workers in an aggressive way, Dkt. # 72, ¶ 9-10; id. at 10. Ms. Hood denies threatening the workers or their equipment. Dkt. # 105, ¶¶ 9, 16-17.

         Observing that Ms. Hood's behavior “corroborated her prior threats, ” the deputies determined that they had reason to believe Ms. Hood's mental condition made her a danger to herself or others and initiated involuntary commitment proceedings under the Involuntary Treatment Act (“ITA”), RCW §§ 71.05.010-71.05.950. Dkt. # 70, ¶ 13; Dkt. # 72, ¶ 10. The deputies handcuffed Ms. Hood and called an ambulance. Dkt. # 70, ¶¶ 13-14; Dkt. # 72, ¶¶ 10-11; id. at 10.

         Before the ambulance arrived, Ms. Hood placed several calls to 911. She told the 911 dispatcher that the police were not helping her, that her house was open, and that she was “going to take a shit” and was “taking off [her] pants.” Dkt. # 70 at 27-31. While Ms. Hood was placing these calls, Deputies Bratcher and Click observed Ms. Hood “attempting to defecate.” Dkt. # 70, ¶ 14; Dkt. # 72, ¶ 11; id. at 10. Ms. Hood testifies that she had asked to go inside to use the bathroom, but that the deputies had ignored this request, and so she wet her clothes. She testifies that, to keep the urine from touching her skin, she “shimmied her pants down a bit, ” but that she never attempted to pull her pants down to defecate. Dkt. # 105, ¶¶ 14-15.

         Around 10:34 a.m., after an ambulance had taken Ms. Hood to Highline Medical Center, animal control collected Ms. Hood's dogs. Deputies Bratcher and Click confirmed that the door to Ms. Hood's house was locked and then departed. Dkt. # 70, ¶ 16; Dkt. # 72, ¶ 12.

         The ambulance brought Ms. Hood to Highline Medical Center, where she was evaluated and treated pursuant to the Involuntary Treatment Act (ITA), RCW §§ 71.05.010-71.05.950.

         Around 8:32 p.m., while Ms. Hood was detained at the hospital, Ms. Hood's neighbors, Christine and Dean Smotherman, called 911 to report that they had seen a strange vehicle parked in front of Ms. Hood's house, with a woman sitting inside. They saw an unknown man run toward the car with an object in his hands, and then saw the car speed away. Dkt. # 69, ¶ 3. When King County Sheriff's Deputies responded to the call, they discovered that someone had made a forced entrance into Ms. Hood's house. They also discovered several of Ms. Hood's belongings on the ground in Ms. Hood's yard. Presuming that these items had been dropped by a burglar, the deputies collected the belongings and brought them back to the Sheriff's Office for cataloguing. Dkt. # 69, ¶ 4.

         Around 11:30 p.m., King County Sheriff's Deputy Adam Easterbrook came to the hospital and informed Ms. Hood that her home had been burglarized. Dkt. # 105, ¶ 20. Hospital staff permitted Ms. Hood to accompany Deputy Easterbrook to her house to secure her belongings, including her safe and her firearm. Dkt. # 105, ¶ 21. Deputy Easterbrook then brought Ms. Hood back to the hospital, where she remained overnight. The burglary investigation was assigned to Deputy Eric White.

         The next day, Ms. Hood was transported in an ambulance to Fairfax Hospital, where she remained under the involuntary detention order until May 10, 2013.

         On May 13, 2013, Deputy White contacted Ms. Hood to arrange to return the catalogued property. Dkt. # 69, ¶ 7. Ms. Hood was extremely upset and claimed that she was missing hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of property. Id. Later that same day, Ms. Hood visited the precinct to give Deputy White a crowbar that Ms. Hood claimed had been used to break into her house. This crowbar was logged into evidence for fingerprint testing. Dkt. # 69, ¶ 8; id. at 21-25.

         Between May 14 and May 17, 2013, Ms. Hood called and emailed Deputy White multiple times about his investigation. In these communications, Ms. Hood described additional property damage, which she valued at $5, 000, and suggested that the Sheriff's Office and her neighbors were complicit in the burglary. Ms. Hood mentioned a pending lawsuit against the Sheriff's Office and claimed that King County was liable for her property losses. Dkt. # 69, ¶¶ 9-14; id. at 28-32, 35-37. Deputy White continued to investigate the burglary and interviewed the Smothermans' daughter, whom Ms. Hood had alleged was involved. Dkt. # 69, ¶¶ 11-12; id. at 15-19.

         On May 21, 2013, Deputy White received a voicemail that Ms. Hood had left on May 17. In this voicemail, Ms. Hood accused the Sheriff's Office of stealing her property and instructed Deputy White not to contact her again. Dkt. # 69, ¶ 14; id. at 41-43. In light of this message, Deputy White decided to inactivate the investigation on the grounds that he could not proceed without Ms. Hood's cooperation. Dkt. # 69, ¶ 15; Dkt. # 107 at 20. In August 2013, at the request of Ms. Hood's counsel, Deputy White reactivated the investigation but was unable to develop the case any further. Dkt. # 69, ¶ 16.

         In May 2015, Ms. Hood filed this suit in King County Superior Court against King County, the King County Sheriff's Office, Deputies Click, Bratcher, and White, and DMHP Bonicalzi (collectively, “King County”); the two hospitals; and multiple unidentified employees of the county and the hospitals. Dkt. # 1-1.[3] Ms. Hood claims that the defendants are jointly and severally liable for:

1. Violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983;
2. “Violation of [their] own policies prohibiting the restraint of individuals unless they are gravely disabled or a danger to themselves or others”;
3. “Restraining plaintiff, and continuing to restrain plaintiff, without probable cause”; 4. “Forcing medical services upon plaintiff without permission of the plaintiff”;
5. “Assault and invasion of plaintiff's personal privacy without her permission when no medical emergency exists”;
6. Negligence and negligent supervision;
7. “Restraining and retaining plaintiff under medical care in violation of her rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”;
8. “Restraining and holding plaintiff contrary to reasonable professional judgment”;
9. “Purposeful withholding of police protection and police investigation ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.