United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER DKT. #30
B. Leighton United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on the Defendants' Second
Motion for Summary Judgment [Dkt. #30]. Plaintiff Willis sues
Defendants Washington State Department of Social and Health
Services, Western State Hospital, Ron Adler (its former CEO),
and Brian Waiblinger, M.D. (its former Medical Director and a
licensed psychiatrist) for unduly restraining his liberty by
forcing him to languish in jail for 91 days while he awaited
admission to Western State to have his competency restored.
He also claims the Defendants falsely imprisoned him and were
negligent in failing to treat him promptly.
Court denied Adler's and Waiblinger's first motion
for summary judgment, concluding they were not entitled to
qualified immunity because at the time of Willis's
detention, it was clearly established that a lack of
facilities could not excuse the unconstitutionality of
indefinitely detaining one awaiting competency restoration.
Adler and Waiblinger now hang their hats on Peralta v.
Dillard, 744 F.3d 1076, 1083 (9th Cir. 2014), arguing
that a lack of resources is indeed a defense to a § 1983
claim for damages, such as this one. They argue that because
DSHS and the State Legislature control Western State's
budget and capacity for patients-not them-they cannot be held
liable for forcing Willis to remain in jail, incompetent to
stand trial. Willis argues Peralta's cost
defense cannot save Adler and Waiblinger from liability
because they were aware he was awaiting admittance and had
the power to admit him.
Waiblinger, DSHS, and Western State also ask the Court to
dismiss Willis's negligence and false imprisonment claims
against them because, they argue, a Washington statute
immunizes them. Willis disagrees, arguing RCW 10.77.068(5)
maintains all existing claims related to the timeliness of
competency evaluations or admissions; it just establishes no
new cause of action. The Court heard oral argument on the
Factual and Procedural Background and
was charged with second degree assault and felony harassment.
On August 27, 2014, Pierce County Superior Court Judge
Cuthbertson found Willis incompetent and committed him to
Western State for a period not to exceed ninety days. Western
State's 270 forensic-treatment beds were full, with a
waiting list of over 100 criminal defendants. On October 21,
2014, Willis still remained in jail, mostly in solitary
confinement, and Cuthbertson found DSHS in contempt of his
order. He issued a fine of $500 per day “until the
contempt is purged.” Ninety- one days after
Cuthbertson's initial order, on November 26, 2016,
Western State admitted Willis for competency restoration.
sued Adler, Waiblinger, DSHS, and Western State for
restraining his liberty without due process of law under 42
U.S.C. § 1983; for negligence in shirking their duty of
providing him reasonable, timely restorative care; and for
false imprisonment for forcing him to remain in jail despite
a court order referring him to Western State. He moved for
summary judgment on his § 1983 claim against the state
agencies and the individual defendants in their official
capacities. The Court denied his motion because the Eleventh
Amendment protects these defendants from suit. See
Dkt. #29 (Order on 1st MSJ) at 6. The Defendants now ask the
Court to dismiss Willis's § 1983 claims against them
for the same reason. Willis does not oppose their motion. His
§ 1983 claims against DSHS, Western State, and Adler and
Waiblinger in their official capacities are DISMISSED.
and Waiblinger also moved for summary judgment on
Willis's § 1983 claims against them personally,
arguing they were entitled to qualified immunity. They
conceded that detaining Willis after the superior court had
ordered him admitted to Western State violated his
constitutional rights, but they denied that such a violation,
when caused by a spike in the number of incapacitated
defendants requiring restorative treatment, was clearly
established. The Court disagreed, concluding Oregon
Advocacy Ctr. v. Mink, 322 F.3d 1102, 1122 (9th Cir.
2003), had established, years before Willis's detention,
that indefinitely detaining incompetent defendants because of
a lack of facility space violates those defendants'
and Waiblinger move again for summary judgment, asking the
Court to reconsider its decision after Peralta. They
argue Peralta forecloses suit under § 1983
against individual defendants with no control over a state
agency's budget when a lack of resources caused a
constitutional violation. They argue that because they did
not set Western State's budget, they cannot be held
liable for violating Willis's Fourteenth Amendment
rights. Willis attempts to distinguish Peralta by
arguing that unlike the defendant in that case (a staff
dentist at a jail) Adler and Waiblinger each had
administrative power. He also argues Adler, at least, could
have made an exception for him, as he had for others.
and Waiblinger, joined by DSHS and Western State, also ask
the Court to dismiss Willis's negligence and false
imprisonment claims against them. They argue a Washington
State statute, RCW 10.77.068(5), bars Willis's state law
claims because it allegedly provides that no cause of action
may lie from the State's failure to timely admit a
criminal defendant into a state mental hospital for inpatient
responds that while RCW 10.77.068(5) creates no new cause of
action, it does not immunize defendants from preexisting
state law claims arising from inadequate competency
evaluations and restoration services.
Defendants also argue Willis's 91-day detention resulted
from the superior court's actions, not theirs, so he
cannot maintain a false imprisonment action against them.
Willis argues the Defendants bear responsibility because
despite a court order calling for his admittance to Western
State and a contempt order punishing them for each day they
delayed so doing, they refused to admit him for months.
Standard of Review.
judgment is proper “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(a). In determining whether an issue of fact
exists, the Court must view all evidence in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable
inferences in that party's favor. See Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-50, 106 S.Ct.
2505 (1986); see also Bagdadi v. Nazar, 84 F.3d
1194, 1197 (9th Cir. 1996). A genuine issue of material fact
exists where there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable
factfinder to find for the nonmoving party. See
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The inquiry is “whether
the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require
submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one
party must prevail as a matter of law.” Id. at
251-52. The moving party bears the initial burden of showing
no evidence exists that supports an element essential to the
nonmovant's claim. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (1986). Once the movant has
met this burden, the nonmoving party then must show the
existence of a genuine issue for trial. See
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. If the nonmoving party fails
to establish the existence of a genuine issue of material
fact, “the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24.
Section 1983 Claim against Adler and Waiblinger.