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Wilson v. Washington Trust Bank

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

August 21, 2017




         BEFORE THE COURT is Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint, ECF No. 10. Plaintiff, a pretrial detainee at the Spokane County Jail, is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. The Court has not directed service of the complaint, but attorneys Michael J. Hines and Erin E. Pounds have entered notices of appearance on behalf of Defendant Washington Trust Bank. ECF Nos. 5 and 6.

         Plaintiff seeks $5, 000, 000.00 against each of the named Defendants. He also seeks to have a case from the Western District of Washington, Wilbur v. City of Mount Vernon, 989 F.Supp.2d 1122 (W.D.Wash. 2013), “re-enforce[d].” In that case, a district court found a systemic overburdening of public defenders resulted in counsels' failure to meet the client in a confidential setting and an inability to understand their clients' goals or whether defenses or mitigating circumstances required investigation. Wilbur, 989 F.Supp.2d at 1131-32. Plaintiff makes no analogous allegations in his First Amended Complaint. This Court is without authority to enforce an order of another court affecting parties over whom this Court had no jurisdiction.

         Liberally construing the First Amended Complaint in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the Court finds he has failed to present factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).


         Plaintiff complains that on approximately August 22, 2016, an unknown officer searched a black laptop bag without a warrant in violation of the Fourth Amendment. ECF No. 10-1 at 10. This is a mere legal conclusion which is not entitled to the “assumption of truth.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). Plaintiff has failed to state a plausible claim for relief against this unknown officer.

         Plaintiff claims “orders” were given to a bank to “aid and abet” law enforcement to “seize” Plaintiff. ECF No. 10-1 at 10-11. Even if a private bank could be considered a state actor for purposes of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff has alleged no facts from which the inference could be drawn that the seizure of his person was without probable cause. He offers no facts from which the Court could infer that his pretrial confinement is illegal. See Manuel v. City of Joliet, 580 U.S.__, 137 S.Ct. 911 (2017). As presented, Plaintiff's allegations are insufficient to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         Plaintiff further complains “video surveillance, ” which was allegedly “key evidence to his defense, ” was destroyed. ECF No. 10-2 at 11. Apart from his conclusory assertions, Plaintiff fails to allege the evidence possessed “an exculpatory value that was apparent before the evidence was destroyed, and [was] of such a nature that the defendant would be unable to obtain comparable evidence by other reasonably available means.” California v. Trombetta, 467 U.S. 479, 489 (1984). Plaintiff's factual allegations are sparse. He does not state the nature of the charges against him or what exculpatory evidence would have been obtained from video surveillance.

         Where lost or destroyed evidence is deemed to be only potentially exculpatory, as opposed to apparently exculpatory, the defendant must show that the evidence was destroyed in bad faith. Arizona v. Youngblood, 488 U.S. 51, 58 (1988). Plaintiff has alleged no facts from which the Court could infer evidence was destroyed in bad faith and under color of state law, rather than in the normal course of business or due to negligence. Indeed, Plaintiff seems to allege that if other Defendants had properly set hearings, then the evidence might have been preserved. His allegations are insufficient to state a constitutional claim against Washington Trust Bank regarding the preservation of evidence.

         USE OF TERM “ET AL.”

         Plaintiff uses the abbreviation “et al.” inappropriately. See Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1262 (9th Cir. 1992). A plaintiff must name all defendants in his complaint (an amended complaint supersedes the initial complaint). Id. Failing to name all defendants in his complaint denies the court jurisdiction over the unnamed defendants. Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(a), accord United States ex rel. Blue Circle West, Inc. v. Tucson Mechanical Contracting Inc., 921 F.2d 911, 914 (9th Cir. 1990). A plaintiff must be careful to list only those defendants in the caption of his complaint who are the subject of his claims.


         Plaintiff names Spokane County and the “Spokane County Prosecuting Office” as Defendants. Section 1983 provides a cause of action against any “person” who, under color of law, deprives an individual of federal constitutional or statutory rights. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The term “person” includes local governmental entities, Cortez v. County of Los Angeles, 294 F.3d 1186, 1188 (9th Cir. 2002), but does not encompass municipal or county departments. See United States v. Kama, 394 F.3d 1236, 1239 (9th Cir. 2005) (Ferguson, J., concurring)(municipal police departments and bureaus are generally not considered “persons” within the meaning of section 1983). Therefore, the Spokane County Prosecutor's Office would not be a proper Defendant in this action.

         A local governmental entity cannot be held liable under section 1983 for its employees' acts unless Plaintiff can prove the existence of unconstitutional policies, regulations, or ordinances, promulgated by officials with final policymaking authority. City of St. Louis v. Praprotnik, 485 U.S. 112, 121 (1988); Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Soc. Servs.,436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978). “[I]t is when execution of a government's policy or custom, whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or acts may fairly be said to represent official policy, inflicts the injury that the government as an entity is responsible under section 1983.” Monell, 436 U.S. at 694. While a single decision may satisfy the “policy” requirement, that decision must have been properly made by one of the municipality's ...

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