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Cato v. Social Justice Fund N.W.

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

May 30, 2017

TINIELL CATO, Plaintiff,
v.
SOCIAL JUSTICE FUND NW, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO JOIN ANOTHER DEFENDANT

          Robert S. Lasnik United States District Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on the motion to dismiss of Defendants Social Justice Fund, Youth Undoing Institutional Racism, and Ending the Prison Industrial Complex, Dkt # 7, and Plaintiff's “Motion to Join Another Defendant.” Dkt. # 12. Defendants claim that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and therefore pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) and 12(b)(6), Plaintiff's claims should be dismissed. Plaintiff seeks to join another defendant and to amend her complaint. After reviewing the pleadings by both parties and the remainder of the record, the Court finds as follows.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a grant writer for Warren & Cato Consulting Firm. Dkt. # 1-1 ¶ 1. The company is a “grass-root innovative company, ” id., with a mission to meet “human, educational, environmental, and community public safety” needs. Id. Defendants are three separate not-for-profit organizations located in Seattle, Washington: Social Justice Fund N.W. (Social Justice), Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (YUIR), and Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC). Id. at ¶¶ 3-5. Since 2012 YUIR has been fighting the construction of the new King County detention center. Dkt. # 7, Exhibit A. Through these efforts, EPIC was launched, which led to the No New Youth Jail Campaign. Id. YUIR and EPIC are projects that operate under the umbrella of two other organizations, the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond and the American Friends Service Committee, all of which have advocated against a youth detention center. Id.

         In 2015, EPIC worked with the City of Seattle to create the “EPIC Zero Detention Project.” Id. The Project would provide grant funding to communities that are most targeted by mass incarceration. Id. EPIC planned on distributing $500, 000 in grants to community-based and community-led organizations that work to end youth imprisonment. Id. In their request for proposals (RFP), id., EPIC stated that it and Social Justice would make the decisions about where they would distribute the grants, and that the grants would be administered by Social Justice. Id. The maximum amount that an proposal could receive was $100, 000. Id. The RFP then gave examples of project ideas, general guidelines on the type of proposal EPIC and Social Justice were looking for, the types of organizations that should apply, and the types of organizations that would receive special consideration. Id. The deadline to apply was October 3, 2016. Id.

         Due to technical difficulties, Social Justice and EPIC extended the application deadline to October 7, 2016. Dkt. # 1-1, ¶ 9. Plaintiff submitted her application that day. Id. at ¶ 8. On October 11, 2016, Plaintiff received a confirmation email from Social Justice stating that her application had been received and was pending review. Id. at ¶ 9. Social Justice told Plaintiff that they would be in touch within two weeks to confirm whether Plaintiff's application was complete and eligible for funding. Id. Social Justice also called Plaintiff that day to verify the amount that Plaintiff had requested because some proposals were mismatched with the funding requests. Id. at ¶ 10. After receiving the email and phone call from Social Justice, Plaintiff then emailed Social Justice to ask about her submissions, but she did not receive a response. Id. at ¶ 11. Plaintiff then sent three other emails, on October 18 and 25 and November 2, to confirm that any mix-up involving her submissions had been cleared up. Id. at ¶¶ 12-14. Defendants did not respond to any of these emails. Id.

         On November 8, 2016, Social Justice notified Plaintiff that none of her projects would receive funding. Id. at ¶ 15. The next day Plaintiff emailed Social Justice claiming that Social Justice had violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination, the Washington Whistleblower Protection Act, and the Uniform Disciplinary Act for Health Professionals. Id. at ¶ 16. Social Justice did not respond, nor did they respond to the second email sent by Plaintiff on November 10, 2016. Id. at ¶ 17. On December 8, 2016 Plaintiff emailed Social Justice and asked them several questions regarding their ethical and professional obligations. Id. at ¶ 19. While Social Justice did not respond to the questions in this email, Burke Stansbury from Social Justice agreed to meet with Plaintiff. Id. at ¶ 20. At the meeting on December 28, 2016, Mr. Stansbury allegedly explained to Plaintiff that this was the first time they had ever done a project like this, that the process suffered from some issues, and that it was too late for the organization to redistribute any funds. Id. at ¶ 21. Mr. Stansbury allegedly told Plaintiff that he and the Senior Project Manager would contact Plaintiff about a way to potentially remedy the issue. Id. Plaintiff alleges that she was never contacted. Id.

         On January 10, 2017, Plaintiff filed this action in state court. Dkt. # 1-1. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Social Justice, YUIR, and EPIC have violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, the Washington State Constitution, 18 U.S.C. §§ 241-242, the Washington Law Against Discrimination, the Washington Whistleblower Protection Act, and Washington's Uniform Disciplinary Act for Health Professionals. Id. at ¶¶ 24-28. Defendants timely removed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b). Dkt. # 1. Defendants then moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), Dkt. # 7, and Plaintiff filed a motion to join another defendant. Dkt. # 12.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

         A. Standard

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), a defendant may move to dismiss a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), 8(a)(2). When deciding a motion to dismiss, the court accepts allegations in the complaint as true and must construe those allegations in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The court does not however, need to accept any legal conclusions as true. Id.

         In order for a party to survive a motion to dismiss, the “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “This standard does not rise to the level of a probability requirement, but it demands ‘more than sheer possibility that the defendant has acted unlawfully.'” Landers v. Quality Commc'ns, Inc, 771 F.3d 638, 641 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). “While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of [her] entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation fo the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atlantic Corp v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).

         B. Violations of the United ...


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