United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
CARLOS MENDOZA, individual, and as guardian of L.M., his minor child, Plaintiffs,
CITY OF VANCOUVER, a Municipality; VANCOUVER POLICE DEPARTMENT, an agent of the City of Vancouver; MONICA HERNANDEZ and “JOHN DOE” HERNANDEZ, husband and wife, individually and the marital community thereof; BARBARA KIPP and “JOHN DOE” KIPP, husband and wife and the martial community thereof, Defendants.
ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
DISMISSAL OF PLAINTIFF CARLOS MENDOZA'S CLAIMS
J. BRYAN, United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on the Defendants' Motion
for Summary Judgment Dismissal of Plaintiff Carlos
Mendoza's claims. Dkt. 19. The Court has considered the
pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion
and the file herein.
filed this case asserting that their constitutional rights
were violated when Plaintiff Mendoza was arrested and
Plaintiff L.M. was taken into protective custody. Dkt. 4-4.
Plaintiffs seek damages as well as attorneys' fees and
costs. Id. Defendants seek summary dismissal of
Plaintiff Mendoza's claims under the doctrine of judicial
estoppel for failing to disclose the claims as an asset in
his bankruptcy. Dkt. 19. For the reasons provided, the motion
should be denied.
sake of this motion alone, some of the following facts are
taken from Plaintiffs' Complaint (Dkt. 2-1, at 8-19),
some from Plaintiff Mendoza's bankruptcy proceeding,
In re Mendoza, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western
District of Washington case number 14-45154 PBS, and others
from the record in this case.
to the Complaint, on April 23, 2014, the Washington State
Department of Social and Health Services (“DSHS”)
filed a dependency petition in Clark County, Washington
Juvenile Court alleging that Plaintiff Mendoza's son,
L.M., was dependent because of abuse allegations against the
child's mother, Tara Mendoza. Dkt. 2-1, at 9. Ms. Mendoza
was arrested around a week later on charges of first degree
assault of a child. Id.
Complaint asserts that Plaintiff Mendoza, an E2 in the United
States Marines, was stationed at Meridian Naval Air Station
in Meridian, Mississippi at the time. Dkt. 2-1, at 9-10. On
May 1, 2014, Plaintiff arrived in Washington on two days
emergency leave. Id., at 10. He was ordered to check
in with check in with Swann Island Oregon Reserves Station in
Portland, Oregon (“Swann Island”), which was to
process Plaintiff's request for a humanitarian transfer,
but Plaintiff failed to arrive with the proper paperwork.
Id. An official at Swann Island informed Plaintiff
Mendoza that he would attempt to verify Plaintiff's
paperwork by telephone, but was unsure he could do so.
Id. Plaintiff was concerned that he would have to
leave Washington, if the transfer was not approved.
Complaint alleges that on May 2, 2014, Plaintiff Mendoza went
to the City of Vancouver jail, where Ms. Mendoza was being
held, and inquired after her. Dkt. 2-1, at 10. He
informed the front desk attendant that he may have to return
to his duty station soon, and so, after conferring with the
supervisor on duty, the attendant told him to return at 5:00
p.m., even though that was outside jail visiting hours.
Id. Plaintiff did so. Id., at 11. Swann
Island was able to confirm Plaintiff's need for a
humanitarian transfer via telephone, and on May 3, 2014, he
was formally, temporary attached to Swann Island. Dkt. 2-1,
Complaint asserts that on May 6, 2014, Plaintiff Mendoza
attended a shelter care hearing for his son in full dress
uniform. Dkt. 2-1, at 11. Right after the hearing, Defendant
Vancouver Police Department Detective Monica Hernandez
arrested Plaintiff at the courthouse, “in front of his
attorney, the court commissioner, and a courthouse full of
people-for making a false statement to a public servant when
requesting to visit [Ms. Mendoza] on May 2.”
Id. Det. Hernandez accused Plaintiff of “using
his military uniform for a special visit to see Tara in
jail” and then “marched” Plaintiff,
“handcuffed in his full dress uniform from the
courthouse approximately three blocks away to the police
station. He was detained until 11:00 p.m. at which time he
posted bail and was released.” Id. These
charges were dismissed by the prosecutor. Id.
to the Complaint, after a physical conflict between Plaintiff
Mendoza and Ms. Mendoza occurred, Ms. Mendoza was sentenced
to jail time. Dkt. 2-1. Plaintiff Mendoza filed a Petition
for Declaration Concerning Validity of Marriage (asserting
the Mendozas' marriage was invalid because the divorce
from her first marriage was not final when they married) and
requested the court enter a parenting plan regarding L.M. on
August 28, 2014. Dkt. 2-1, at 12. A parenting plan was
entered a few weeks later, prohibiting contact between Ms.
Mendoza and L.M. Id.
September 23, 2014, Plaintiff Mendoza filed a petition for
Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In re Mendoza, U.S. Bankruptcy
Court for the Western District of Washington case number
14-45154 PBS, Dkt. 1; filed in this case at Dkt. 20, at 5-47.
Plaintiff did not list any possible legal claims on his
schedule of assets. Dkt. 20, at 15.
Complaint alleges that in late November 2014, Plaintiff
Mendoza received transfer orders to Camp Lejeune, in
Jacksonville, North Carolina, to report by December 12, 2014.
Dkt. 2-1, at 12. On December 4, 2014, the dependency case was
dismissed. Id. Plaintiff intended to move L.M. with
him to North Carolina. Id. On December 8, 2014,
Plaintiff moved the superior court to have the no contact
order between Ms. Mendoza and L.M. lifted before they left
for North Carolina. Dkt. 2-1, at 13.
Complaint maintains that on December 10, 2014, a friend in
Newburg, Oregon (just over the Washington border) contacted
Plaintiff and asked him to take her to the hospital. Dkt.
2-1, at 13. He put L.M. in the car seat, and drove over the
Washington state border into Oregon. Id. Defendant
Vancouver Police Department Sergeant Barbara Kipp followed
Plaintiff from his home and over the Oregon border.
Id. Officers of the Portland Police Department
pulled Plaintiff over and asked him if he was authorized to
have L.M. Id. Sgt. Kipp arrived and accused
Plaintiff of attempting to take L.M. to see Ms. Mendoza.
Id. The Portland officers asked whether Sgt. Kipp
had paperwork indicating that she was authorized to take L.M.
into protective custody, and she told them that she
didn't need it in cases of life and death. Id.,
at 13-14. L.M. was taken. Id.
December 31, 2014, Plaintiff Mendoza's Chapter 7 case was
discharged. In re Mendoza, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for
the Western District of Washington case number 14-45154 ...