Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
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.

Thomas v. Cannon

United States District Court, W.D. Washington

June 1, 2017

FREDRICK and ANNALESA THOMAS; and JO-HANNA READ, as Guardian ad Litem of E.T., a minor, Plaintiffs,
v.
JASON CANNON; BRIAN MARKERT; RYANMICENKO; MICHAEL WILEY; MICHAEL ZARO; CITY OF FIFE; CITY OF LAKEWOOD; and PIERCE COUNTY METRO SWAT TEAM, Defendants. FREDRICK THOMAS and ANNALESA THOMAS, as Co-Administrators of the Estate of Leonard Thomas, and its statutory beneficiaries, Plaintiffs,
v.
BRIAN MARKERT; MICHAEL WILEY; NATHAN VANCE; MICHAEL ZARO; SCOTT GREEN; JEFF RACKLEY; CITY OF FIFE; CITY OF LAKEWOOD; PIERCE COUNTY METRO SWAT TEAM; and JOHN DOES 1 through 10, Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Barbara Jacobs Rothstein U.S. District Court Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         In the early hours of May 24, 2013, a member of the Pierce County SWAT Team fatally shot Leonard Thomas. At the time Leonard was holding his four-year-old son E.T. The shooting occurred after a four hour standoff at the home where Leonard lived with his parents, Fredrick and Annalesa Thomas. These consolidated cases involve civil rights and state law claims by Leonard's Estate (3:15-cv-05346) and by Fred, Annalesa, and E.T. (3:16-cv-05392). Plaintiffs move for partial summary judgment on the issue whether Defendant Metro SWAT Team is a legal entity that can be held liable as a defendant in this lawsuit. The Court rules that Metro SWAT is not a suable entity.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND[1]

         The Pierce County Metro SWAT Team is a "mutual aid" emergency response law enforcement team consisting of police officers from several Pierce County cities. (Doc. No. 40- 1.) The participating municipalities formed Metro SWAT by entering into an interlocal agreement ("Agreement"). The Agreement provides, in relevant part:

19. CONTRACT ADMINISTRATION. The parties do not by this agreement to [sic] create any separate legal or administrative entity. The parties do not intend to jointly own any real or personal property as part of this undertaking. The Signatory Agencies will cooperatively work together to further the intent and purpose of this agreement. The chiefs of police from the Signatory Agencies shall be responsible for administering the terms of this agreement.

(Id. ¶ 19.) Additionally, the member "cities agree that liability for the negligent or tortious actions of the [Metro Pierce SWAT Team will] be shared equally on an equal shares basis between the Participating Cities." (Id. ¶ 13.)

         Metro SWAT operates under a manual that provides a chain of command and rules of engagement for the use of force. (Doc. No. 40-2.) A Metro SWAT Oversight Board investigates allegations of excessive use of force, seeks funding through participating cities or grant applications, and maintains authority to remove individual officers from the SWAT team. (Doc. No. 40-4 at 14, 105-06, 103.) Metro SWAT is empowered to enter into contracts with third parties. (See Doc. No. 40-3.)

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment is appropriate if, "taking the evidence and all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Smith v. Clark County Sch. Dist., 727 F.3d 950, 954 (9th Cir. 2013) (quotation marks and citation omitted). A party may move for summary judgment on any claim or defense, or any part of a claim or defense. Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 56(a). As Plaintiffs' account of Metro SWAT's manner of operations is uncontested by Defendants, the disputes presented by Plaintiffs' Motion are strictly legal in nature.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17(b)(3) provides that an entity's capacity to be sued is determined "by the law of the state where the court is located." However, "a partnership or other unincorporated association with no such capacity under that state's law may sue or be sued in its common name to enforce a substantive right existing under the United States Constitution or laws." Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(b)(3)(A). Thus, the Court first looks to whether Washington law provides for suit against Metro SWAT. Because it does not, the Court next considers whether Metro SWAT is "a partnership or other unincorporated association" for purposes of Rule 17(b)(3)(A). It is not.

         A. Capacity for Suit under Washington Law

         Washington's civil rules are silent as to a party's capacity for suit. See Wash. Super. Ct. Civ. R. 17. Instead, courts must rely on statutory and common law to determine capacity for suit. The Supreme Court of Washington explained, "In determining the issue of [an entity's] capacity to be sued, we must examine the enactment providing for its establishment." Roth v. Drainage Imp. Dist. No. 5, of Clark Cty.,64 Wash.2d 586, 588 (1964). Metro SWAT was formed under the authority of the Washington Interlocal Cooperation Act ("ICA"), RCW 39.34, which authorizes local governments to enter into interlocal agreements, and the Washington Mutual Aid ...


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.