United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendants' motion for
summary judgment. Dkt. 26. The Court has considered the
pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion
and the remainder of the file and hereby grants the motion
for the reasons stated herein.
January 21, 2016, Plaintiffs filed their complaint in this
action. Dkt. 1. On February 5, 2016, Plaintiffs filed an
amended complaint. Dkt. 3. Plaintiffs asserts claims against
Defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations
of the Fourteenth Amendment. Id. at 12. On February
23, 2016, Defendants answered the amended complaint,
asserting that Plaintiffs' claims are barred by the
applicable statute of limitations. Dkt. 6. at 7.
11, 2017, Defendants moved for summary judgment on the
grounds that the applicable statute of limitations bars this
action. Dkt. 26. On June 12, 2017, Plaintiffs responded.
Dkts. 31, 34. On June 23, 2017, Defendants replied. Dkt. 40.
case revolves around the repeated rape and frequent sexual
abuse suffered by Plaintiffs as children when Washington
Department of Social and Health Services (“DSHS”)
placed them in the care of the Kiwanis Vocational Home
(“KVH”). The numerous instances of sexual abuse
of Plaintiffs occurred from 1988 through 1991. Plaintiffs
S.C., R.N., and J.W. reached the age of majority at 18 years
old in 1991, 1994, and 1995, respectively. They commenced
this action on January 21, 2016.
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is proper only if the pleadings, the discovery and
disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that
there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law when the nonmoving party fails to make a
sufficient showing on an essential element of a claim in the
case on which the nonmoving party has the burden of proof.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
There is no genuine issue of fact for trial where the record,
taken as a whole, could not lead a rational trier of fact to
find for the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)
(nonmoving party must present specific, significant probative
evidence, not simply “some metaphysical doubt”).
See also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). Conversely, a
genuine dispute over a material fact exists if there is
sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute,
requiring a judge or jury to resolve the differing versions
of the truth. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 253 (1986); T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac.
Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir.
1987). The Court must construe any factual issues of
controversy in favor of the nonmoving party. Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007).
Accrual of Plaintiffs' 42 U.S.C. § 1983
move for summary judgment on the basis that Plaintiffs'
claims are barred by the applicable statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations period for § 1983 actions is
“a State's personal injury statute of
limitations.” Owens v. Okure, 488 U.S. 235,
240-41 (1989). Pursuant to RCW 4.16.080(2), the period of
limitations in this case is three years. RK Ventures,
Inc. v. City of Seattle, 307 F.3d 1045, 1058 (9th Cir.
2002). The parties do not dispute the applicable statute of
limitations or applicable tolling period until Plaintiffs
reached the age of majority. See Dkts. 31, 40.
Instead, the parties' arguments on this motion turn
exclusively on when Plaintiffs' claims accrued and the
period of limitations began to run. Id.
state law determines the length of the limitations period,
federal law determines when a claim accrues. Western Ctr.
for Journalism v. Cederquist, 235 F.3d 1153, 1156 (9th
Cir. 2000). Under federal law, a principle known as
the “discovery rule” dictates that a cause of
action accrues on the date “when the plaintiff knows or
has reason to know of the injury which is the basis of the
action.” Lukovsky v. City and Cty. of S.F.,
535 F.3d 1044, 1048 (9th Cir. 2008). As the Supreme Court has
noted, “discovery of the injury, not discovery of the
other elements of a claim, is what starts the clock.”
Rotella v. Wood, 528 U.S. 549, 555 (2000).
courts in this district have recognized that, under the
discovery rule, “the possibility that a person who has
been in a sexually abusive relationship may not realize that
he or she is injured until many years after the sexual act
occurred.” J.I. v. United States, No.
C06-5674RJB, 2007 WL 983138, at *5 (W.D. Wash. March 26,
2007) (citing Simmons v. United States, 805 F.2d
1363, 1368 (9th Cir. 1986); A.T. v. Everett Sch.
Dist., C16-1536JLR, 2017 WL 784673, at *3 (W.D. Wash.
Feb. 28, 2017). Nonetheless, “a claim does not wait to
accrue until a party knows the precise extent of an
injury.” Raddatz v. United States, 750 F.2d
791, 796 (9th Cir. 1984). Therefore, in ascertaining the
accrual of Plaintiffs' cause of action, the relevant date
is when Plaintiffs first learned of any significant injury
resulting from Defendants' allegedly wrongful conduct.
Soliman v. Philip Morris Inc., 311 F.3d 966, 972
(9th Cir. 2002) (“The relevant date, however, is not
when [plaintiff] knew about these particular injuries, but
when he should have known of any significant injury
from defendants' wrongful conduct.”) (emphasis in
original). While Defendants bear the initial burden ...