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Ames v. Lindquist

United States District Court, W.D. Washington

April 26, 2017

MICHAEL AMES, Plaintiff,
v.
MARK LINDQUIST, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION, GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS, GRANTING PLAINTIFF LEAVE TO AMEND, REQUESTING ADDITIONAL BRIEFING, AND RENOTING MOTION

          BENJAMIN H. SETTLE United States District Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendants Mark Lindquist, Chelsea Lindquist, and Pierce County's (“Defendants”) motion to dismiss (Dkt. 26) and Plaintiff Michael Ames's (“Ames”) motion for reconsideration (Dkt. 37). The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion and the remainder of the file and hereby rules as follows:

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On February 2, 2016, Ames filed a complaint against Defendants in Pierce County Superior Court for the State of Washington. Dkt. 1, Exh. 1. Ames asserted causes of action for violations of his constitutional rights, conspiracy to violate his civil rights, abuse of process, invasion of privacy, constructive discharge, outrage, and indemnification. Id. On February 22, 2016, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. Dkt. 13. On April 21, 2016, the Court granted the motion concluding that Ames failed to connect factual allegations to the elements of his causes of action and granted Ames leave to amend. Dkt. 21.

         On May 5, 2016, Ames filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) asserting six causes of action: (1) violations of his civil rights, including his First Amendment right to freedom of speech, right to redress or petition, and right to access the courts and his Fourteenth Amendment rights to procedural and substantive due process, (2) abuse of process, (3) invasion of privacy, (4) constructive discharge/breach of contract, (5) outrage, and (6) indemnification. Dkt. 24. The FAC is 72 pages long, and Ames attached 320 pages of appendices. Id.

         On May 19, 2016, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. Dkt. 26. On October 6, 2016, the Court granted the motion in part, reserved ruling in part, and requested additional briefing. Dkt. 35. On October 18, 2016, Ames filed a supplemental brief. Dkt. 36. On October 19, 2016, Ames filed a motion for reconsideration. Dkt. 37. On October 28, 2016, Defendants filed a supplemental reply. Dkt. 38. On December 27, 2016, Defendants filed a request for judicial notice. Dkt. 39.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Motion for Reconsideration

         Motions for reconsideration are governed by Local Rule 7(h), which provides:

Motions for reconsideration are disfavored. The court will ordinarily deny such motions in the absence of a showing of manifest error in the prior ruling or a showing of new facts or legal authority which could not have been brought to its attention earlier with reasonable diligence.

Local Rules, W.D. Wash. LCR 7(h).

         In this case, it is unclear whether Ames moves for reconsideration on the basis of new facts and/or authority or a manifest error of law. Regarding the former, Ames correctly concludes that his “claims against Pierce County that were not dismissed would include entity liability based upon the acts and omissions of Lindquist as a government official.” Dkt. 37 at 3. Accordingly, Lindquist as a witness or integral actor for the alleged deprivations is fundamentally different than Lindquist as a party. The Court concludes that Ames has failed to show a manifest error of law on this issue.

         Regarding new facts or authority, the motion highlights some of the problems with Ames's shotgun-style approach to stating his claims. For example, Ames cites, for the first time, Karl v. City of Mountlake Terrace, 678 F.3d 1062, 1072 (2012), for the proposition that a “subordinate officer who is not the final decision maker can still be liable under § 1983 if he set[s] in motion a series of acts by others which the actor knows or reasonably should know would cause others to inflict the constitutional injury.” Dkt. 37 at 3-4. The Court agrees with Ames that this is valid precedent. Ames, however, fails to correlate precedent with factual allegations in his complaint. The two relevant paragraphs in his complaint provide as follows:

Defendant Mark Lindquist directed his subordinates in the acts and failures to act that deprived Mike Ames of his First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment (Due Process) rights.
Defendant Mark Lindquist set in motion a series of acts by his subordinates that he knew or reasonably should have known would cause his subordinates to deprive Mike Ames of his First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment (Due Process) rights.

Dkt. 24 ¶¶ 6.17, 6.18. These allegations do not state a claim under Karl because, if the lead prosecutor is not an “employer” for purposes of First Amendment liability, subordinate prosecutors would definitely not be considered Ames's employers either. Therefore, even under Ames's new authority, his complaint still fails to state a claim.

         Finally, Ames argues that he is prejudiced by “having to argue his case on a [Rule] 12(b)(6) motion, divulging all his theories, before he has the opportunity to fully develop them . . . .” Dkt. 37 at 6. Contrary to Ames's assertion, the rules of procedure require Ames to provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). If Ames fails to do so, then there is no need for discovery. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007) (Plaintiffs must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”). Accordingly, the Court denies Ames's motion for reconsideration.

         B. Motion to Dismiss

         Ames alleges violations of his procedural and substantive due process rights. FAC ¶¶ 6.69-6.81. Defendants move to dismiss these claims because Ames has failed to state a claim, the claims are barred by the ...


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