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Sassen Vanelsoo v. Rogers

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

October 10, 2017

ADRIAN G. SASSEN VANELSLOO, Plaintiff,
v.
RONALD ROGERS, et al, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND REVOKING PLAINTIFF'S IN FORMA PAUPERIS STATUS

          BENJAMIN H. SETTLE, United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendants Susan German, Shirley Kennedy, Ronald Rogers, and Stephen Sutton's ("Defendants") motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 19). 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.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On June 29, 2016, Plaintiff Adrian Sassen Vanelsloo ("Vanelsloo") filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis and a proposed civil rights complaint. Dkts. 1, 1-1. On July 19, 2016, Vanelsloo filed a first amended complaint alleging Defendants denied him written notice of a forfeiture proceeding, denied him a hearing, and unlawfully seized his property in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. Dkt. 5.

         On August 2, 2017, Defendants moved for summary judgment. Dkt. 19. On September 25, 2017, Vanelsloo responded. Dkt. 32. On September 29, 2017, Defendants replied. Dkt. 34.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On July 23, 2012, Officer Rodgers arrested Vanelsloo for driving under the influence. Dkt. 21, Declaration of Ronald Rogers, ¶¶ 2, 9. Incident to the arrest, Officer Rodgers seized a bag of narcotics and $695 in cash. Id. ¶¶ 11-12. When he returned to his office, Officer Rodgers submitted a request for seizure form for the cash. Id.¶ 13.

         On July 24, 2012, Vanelsloo contacted Officers Kennedy and German to request a hearing to contest the seizure of his cash. Dkt. 20-1 at 2 (request for admission #9).

         On August 6, 2012, Officer German mailed a letter to Vanelsloo informing him of the seizure and "that he had until September 20, 2012 to request a hearing or the currency would be deemed forfeited." Dkt. 22, Declaration of Susan German, ¶ 3. Officer German sent the letter via the United States Postal Service to the address Vanelsloo provided to Officer Rodgers, which was the same address on his driver's license. Id. ¶ 4. Officer German sent the letter via certified mail and with a return receipt requested. Id. A recipient signed for the letter at that address. Id. ¶ 6.

         On October 26, 2012, Officer German prepared a second letter to Vanelsloo informing him that, as a result of his failure to timely respond to the first letter, his cash would be forfeited. Id. She sent the letter to the same address via certified mail with a return receipt requested. Id. A recipient signed for the letter. Id.

         On October 30, 2015, Officer German deemed the cash forfeited and transferred the funds in question to a fund for the State of Washington because she did not hear from Vanelsloo. Id.¶ 9.

         On August 15, 2013, the state court dismissed the charges against Vanelsloo. As part of the dismissal, the court ordered that the cash be released to Vanelsloo's mother. Dkt. 32 at 13.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Summary ...


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