United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss (Dkt. No. 11). Having thoroughly considered the
parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court
finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS the motion
for the reasons explained herein.
Spruel filed a pro se complaint in King County Superior Court
on July 11, 2017 naming “County King County” as
Defendant (Dkt. No. 1-3). Spruel personally delivered the
summons and complaint to an administrative assistant at the
Seattle Mayor's Office. (Dkt. No. 11 at 3.) While
difficult to follow, the complaint appears to indicate Spruel
suffered physical injury from an unknown attacker in and
around “august - October 2013.” (Dkt. No. 1-3 at
1.) Spruel claims that she attempted to contact law
enforcement in Des Moines and Seattle at that time but was
rebuffed. (Id. at 2-3.)
alleges the following causes of action: “Making a false
and misleading statement unto a public official 9A.76.175,
” “Official misconduct 9A.80.010, ”
“Equal rights under the law 42 U.S. Code Chapter 21 Sub
chapter one-generally . . . R.S. § 1977; Pub L. 102-166,
title I, § 101, Nov. 21, 1991, 105 Stat. 1071), ”
and “obstructing justice: intimidating party, witness,
or juror.” (Dkt. No. 1-3 at 4.)
City of Seattle removed the matter to this Court based on its
allegation that Spruel's claims presented a federal
question. (Dkt. No. 1-1) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 1981 as the
federal question). Defendant City of Seattle now moves to
dismiss the complaint with prejudice under Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(5), 12(b)(6), and 41(b). (Dkt. No. 11.)
Seattle cites four grounds. First, Spruel's claims are
barred by the statute of limitations. (Id. at 6-7.)
Second, service was insufficient under applicable local civil
rules. (Id. at 4-5.) Third, to the extent Spruel
asserts claims based on criminal statutes, she is unable to
assert the requisite private right of action for such claims.
(Id. at 7-9.) Fourth, Spruel failed to comply with
Washington's notice-of-claim statute. (Id. at
10-11.) Spruel, in response, filed a motion for contempt
(Dkt. No. 12). She asserts that dismissal would be a due
process violation, but provides no legal or factual basis for
her claim. (Id. at 2.)
cites both criminal and civil law in her complaint. (Dkt. No.
1-3.) In as much as this Court can interpret the complaint,
all of her allegations are, essentially, civil rights
violations. She alleges Seattle Police Officers refused to
assist her and did so based upon impermissible
grounds. 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, 1985.
But, based on the relevant statute of limitations for such
claims, Spruel fails to state a claim for which this Court
can grant relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Therefore, her claim
must be dismissed. The Court need not reach Defendant
Seattle's remaining arguments for dismissal.
motion to dismiss on the pleadings may be granted on the
basis of an expired statute of limitations if “the
assertions of the complaint, read with the required
liberality, would not permit the plaintiff to prove that the
statute was tolled.” TwoRivers v. Lewis, 174
F.3d 987, 991 (9th Cir. 1999).The Court accepts all factual
allegations in the complaint as true and draws all reasonable
inferences from those facts in favor of Plaintiff.
Al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, 580 F.3d 949, 956 (9th Cir.
2009). In addition, although Rule 15(a) requires that leave
to amend be freely given when justice so requires, leave may
be denied if amendment of the complaint would be futile.
Gordon v. City of Oakland, 627 F.3d 1092, 1094 (9th
court treats claims brought under 42 U.S.C. §§
1981, 1983, and 1985 as personal injury actions. McDougal
v. County of Imperial, 942 F.2d 668, 673-74 (9th Cir.
1991). Therefore, state law controls the statute of
limitations. See Donoghue v. Orange Cty., 848 F.2d
926, 929 (9th Cir. 1987) (as applied to a § 1983 claim);
Taylor v. Regents of Univ. of Calif., 993 F.2d 710,
711 (9th Cir. 1993) (as applied to § 1981 and §
1985 claims). While state law governs the period of
limitations, federal law governs when that period commences.
Hoesterey v. Cathedral City, 945 F.2d 317, 319 (9th
Cir. 1991). This occurs when “a plaintiff knows or has
reason to know of the injury which is the basis of his
action.” Id. Finally, the Court also borrows
the state's tolling rules. Wallace v. Kato, 549
U.S. 384, 394 (2007). In Washington, a statute of limitations
may be tolled during a potential plaintiff's minority,
incompetency, incarceration, or military enlistment of the
potential plaintiff. RCW §§ 4.16.190, 38.58.090.
Additionally, equitable tolling is permissible “when
justice requires.” Millay v. Cam, 955 P.2d
791, 797 (Wash. 1998). It is the plaintiff's burden to
establish a factual basis for tolling the statute. Rivas
v. Overlake Hosp. Med. Ctr., 189 P.3d 753, 755 (Wash.
civil right claims against Seattle are barred under the
applicable three year statute of limitations. Wash. Rev.
Code. § 4.16.080(2). The events at issue occurred
between August and October 2013-more than three years before
she filed her complaint. (Dkt. No. 1-3 at 1.) In addition,
the complaint indicates that Spruel contemporaneously knew of
the conduct about which she now brings suit. (Id. at
1-4.) Finally, Spruel provides no factual basis supporting
equitable tolling. (Id.)
complaint, even when read with the required liberality, does
not demonstrate a basis to avoid the statute of limitations
bar. Nor could amendment remedy this infirmity. Dismissal
with prejudice is appropriate.