United States District Court, W.D. Washington
ORDER DENYING LEAVE TO AMEND COMPLAINT, DENYING
MOTION FOR REMAND, AND GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs Christopher King,
J.D., Wally Brown, and Chris Nubbe's Motion for Leave to
file a First Amended Complaint (Dkt. #20), Plaintiffs'
Motion for Remand (Dkt. #6), and Defendant Pierce County
Superior Court Judge Stanley J. Rumbaugh's Motion to
Dismiss (Dkt. #3). For the reasons stated below, the Court
DENIES Plaintiffs' Motions, GRANTS Defendant's
Motion, and dismisses this case with prejudice.
Factual Background 
King is a “former daily news reporter and escrow
attorney who has closed several dozen residential real estate
purchase and refinances.” Dkt. # 1-2 at 2. Plaintiff
Brown is a journalist and videographer. Id.
Plaintiff Nubbe is a “Judicial Oversight
Investigator.” Id. Plaintiffs King and Brown
“routinely run Courtroom and other video pertaining to
the fallout from America's 2008 financial/mortgage
crisis.” Id. at 3. On July 19, 2016, Plaintiff
Brown wrote to Judicial Assistant Merri Reagan for Pierce
County Superior Court Judge Stanley J. Rumbaugh stating
“Hi Merri, I am Wally Brown and I have been contracted
by Brenda Duzan to be added to her defense team in the court
proceeding for Friday July 22…. Case No. 14-2-12022-8.
Unless I hear back from you to the contrary, I will be
driving up there to Tacoma to record the hearing.” Dkt.
#1-2 at 20-21. Ms. Reagan wrote back the following day
stating that the official Court Reporter would make a
stenographical record, and that video recordings of the
proceedings was prohibited. Id. at 20. On or about
July 20, 2016, Plaintiff Brown contacted Plaintiff King
regarding a “denial of camera coverage of a Friday, 22
July 2016 hearing pending in case number
14-2-12022-8…” Id. Plaintiff King
emailed Ms. Reagan on July 20, 2016, stating that he and
Brown requested “camera access to a foreclosure
hearing.” Id. at 3-4. Plaintiff King stated
that denial of camera access was unconstitutional and that he
would sue if he was denied such access. Id.
Plaintiff King did not state he was a member of the news
media. Plaintiff King sent the superior court a copy of
“Rule GR 16 - Courtroom Photography and Recording by
the News Media, ” which states in part that video
recording by “the news media” is allowed provided
that “permission shall have first been expressly
granted by the judge, ” and setting forth procedures
for the judge to follow in denying camera access.
Id. at 4-5.
Defendant Rumbaugh nor his staff contacted Plaintiff King in
response to his communications prior to the July 22, 2016,
hearing. It appears from the record that one or more of the
Plaintiffs went to the hearing and attempted to hand deliver
a copy of a “Notice of Media Appearance” to Judge
Rumbaugh. The courtroom staff refused to deliver this Notice
and Judge Rumbaugh told Plaintiffs to “get out of
here… get out of here now.” Id. at 7.
King later hand filed a “Notice of Media
Coverage” on August 2, 2016, seeking prospective relief
“and for precedential value in other cases before this
Honorable Court.” Id.
December 8, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint in King County
Superior Court alleging Defendant Judge Rumbaugh violated the
First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Washington State
Constitution Article I §5, and Washington Court Rule GR
16 based on the above fact pattern. Dkt. # 1-2 at 9.
Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief, compensatory damages in
excess of $25, 000, and punitive damages. Id.
January 9, 2017, Defendant removed to this Court based on
federal question jurisdiction. Dkt. # 1; 28 U.S.C.
§1441(a). On January 17, 2017, Defendant filed the
instant Motion to Dismiss. Dkt. #3. Later that day,
Plaintiffs filed the instant Motion to Remand and a separate
“Plaintiffs' Rule 41 Voluntary Dismissal of his
(sic) Sole Federal Claim of First Amendment Violation.”
Dkts. #6 and #7. On March 6, 2017, Plaintiffs filed the
instant Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint.
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2), a “court should freely give
leave [to amend] when justice so requires, ”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Courts apply this policy with
“extreme liberality.” Eminence Capital, LLC
v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051 (9th Cir. 2003).
Five factors are commonly used to assess the propriety of
granting leave to amend: (1) bad faith, (2) undue delay, (3)
prejudice to the opposing party, (4) futility of amendment,
and (5) whether plaintiff has previously amended the
complaint. Allen v. City of Beverly Hills, 911 F.2d
367, 373 (9th Cir. 1990); Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S.
178, 182 (1962). In conducting this five-factor analysis, the
court must grant all inferences in favor of allowing
amendment. Griggs v. Pace Am. Group, Inc., 170 F.3d
877, 880 (9th Cir. 1999). In addition, the court must be
mindful of the fact that, for each of these factors, the
party opposing amendment has the burden of showing that
amendment is not warranted. DCD Programs, Ltd. v.
Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 187 (9th Cir. 1987); see
also Richardson v. United States, 841 F.2d 993, 999 (9th
making a 12(b)(6) assessment, the court accepts all facts
alleged in the complaint as true, and makes all inferences in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Baker
v. Riverside County Office of Educ., 584 F.3d 821, 824
(9th Cir. 2009) (internal citations omitted). However, the
court is not required to accept as true a “legal
conclusion couched as a factual allegation.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007)). The complaint “must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Id. at 678. This
requirement is met when the plaintiff “pleads factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Id. The complaint need not include
detailed allegations, but it must have “more than
labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Absent facial
plausibility, Plaintiff's claims must be dismissed.
Id. at 570.
complaint is dismissed for failure to state a claim,
“leave to amend should be granted unless the court
determines that the allegation of other facts consistent with
the challenged pleading could not possibly cure the
deficiency.” Schreiber Distrib. Co. v. Serv-Well
Furniture Co., 806 F.2d 1393, 1401 (9th Cir. 1986).
Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint
Court will begin by addressing Plaintiffs' Motion for
Leave to Amend, as the Court must look to the
pleadings-amended or not-before determining the remaining
motions in this matter. Plaintiffs' two-page Motion for
Leave to Amend reiterates their GR 16 claim and cites to a
Seattle Times newspaper article about Pierce County
prosecutor Mark Lindquist. Dkt. #20 at 1-2. Plaintiffs'
Motion then states “as leave shall be
liberally-granted… and as none of this is
Plaintiff's (sic) fault, the Motion must be summarily
GRANTED…” Id. at 2. Plaintiffs'
Motion contains no further analysis.
Response, Defendant argues that this Motion is “made in
bad faith, is futile, and prejudicial.” Dkt. #21 at 2.
Defendant presents evidence as to bad faith, and significant
legal authority. See Dkt. # 21. Defendant argues
that amendment should be denied because it would be futile
because “[b]oth the original and new allegations fail
to overcome the dispositive obstacles of judicial immunity,
Plaintiffs' lack of standing, the absence of any claim
under federal or state constitutions and state tort law, the
missing elements required for declaratory and injunctive
relief, and their continued refusal to obtain in
personam jurisdiction for federal ...