United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER ON DEFENDANT LACEY POLICE DEPARTMENT'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
J. BRYAN, United States District Judge
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant Lacey Police
Department's Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. 15. The
Court has considered Plaintiffs Response (Dkt. 20), Defendant
Lacey Police Department's Reply (Dkt. 23), and the
remainder of the file herein.
Lacey Police Department (herein, "Defendant")
argues that summary judgment of dismissal of Plaintiff s 28
U.S.C. §1983 action under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 is warranted
for two reasons. First, Defendant argues, Plaintiffs claims
are barred by the statute of limitations, because the claims
are governed by a three year statute of limitations, and the
complaint references an incident on July 4, 2014, but was not
filed until July 10, 2017. Second, Defendant argues, Lacey
Police Department is not a proper defendant, because the
police department is not a separate entity from the city, and
the city has taken no steps to allow its police department to
be sued separately. Dkt. 16 at 3, 4. Defendant Chris Packard
is separately represented and has not joined Defendant Lacey
Police Department in this motion.
Standard on motion for summary judgment raised under
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 (1985).
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 (d).
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.,
Ml U.S. 242, 253 (1986); T.W. Elec. Service Inc. v.
Pacific Electrical Contractors Association, 809 F.2d
626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).
determination of the existence of a material fact is often a
close question. The Court must consider the substantive
evidentiary burden that the nonmoving party must meet at
trial -e.g., a preponderance of the evidence in most civil
cases. Anderson, Ml U.S. at 254, T.W. Elect.
Service Inc., 809 F.2d at 630. The court must resolve
any factual issues of controversy in favor of the nonmoving
party only when the facts specifically attested by that party
contradict facts specifically attested by the moving party.
The nonmoving party may not merely state that it will
discredit the moving party's evidence at trial, in the
hopes that evidence can be developed at trial to support the
claim. T. W. Elect. Service Inc., 809 F.2d at 630
(relying on Anderson, supra). Conclusory,
non-specific statements in affidavits are not sufficient, and
"missing facts" will not be "presumed."
Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871,
Is this case barred by the three year statute of
argues that the case should be dismissed on statute of
limitations grounds, because the underlying incident alleged
occurred on July 4, 2014, but the case was not filed with the
Clerk of Court until July 10, 2017. Dkt. 15 at 2. Defendant
cites to Docket 1-3, a pleading with an ECF date stamp of
July 10, 2017. The same pleading also appears to have a date
stamp by the Clerk of Court dated July 6, 2017 and a
signature of Plaintiff dated June 30, 2017. See id.
who is pro se, agrees that the alleged event
occurred on July 4, 2014, and takes no issue with the
applicability of a three year statute of limitations. Dkt. 20
at 2, In 14. See RCW 4.16.080(2). Plaintiff
disagrees about the filing date. According to Plaintiff, her
"efiled [complaint] was sent in July 2, 2017 . . . and
was processed July 5, 2017, " and due to the July
4thholiday, "it wasn't until July 6, 2017
that the mail version [of the complaint] arrived in Seattle,
WA and transferred to Tacoma, WA [sic], " but
that complaint "was in the mail June
30th[5/'c]." Id. at 2, In 8-12;
id. at 8, In 7. See also, Id. at 5, In
12-15. Plaintiff also argues that the statute of limitations
should run from November 18, 2016, the date that "the
reasons . . . known as to 'why' . . . started
unfolding from that day forward." Id. at In 18,
19. Handwritten text next to the date reads, "date of
major injuries and began treatment, " which could be
construed to mean that Plaintiff began treatment on November
18, 2016. See Id. at In 19.
Reply argues that filing is complete only upon receipt by the
Clerk and that, in this case, "nothing submitted by
plaintiff establishes that the Clerk's office received
the complaint prior to July 6, 2017." Dkt. 23 at 1.
brings this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1983, so the statute
of limitations and coordinate tolling rules are determined
with reference to Washington law. Rose v. Rinaldi,
654 F.2d 546 (9th Cir. 1981); Bianchi v. Bellingham
Police Department, 909 F.2d 1316 (1990). RCW 4.16.080(2)
provides a three year statute of limitations for injury to
the person or rights of another and applies to personal
injury cases brought under §1983. See Rose, 654
F.2d at 547. Washington law allows for equitable tolling
"when justice requires." Millay v. Cam,
135 Wn.2d 193, 206 (1998). "Equitable tolling is
appropriate when consistent with both the purpose of the
statute providing the cause of action and the purpose of the
statute of limitations." Id. "The
predicates for equitable tolling are bad faith, deception, or
false assurance by the defendant and the exercise of
diligence by the plaintiff." Id.
contributing to the confusion in this case is the fact that
Plaintiff filed two versions of the complaint, one which was
e-filed (Dkt. 1-2) and one which was filed by mail (Dkt.
1-3). Defendant's argument ignores the e-filed complaint
in favor of the complaint filed by mail. The docket reflects
a July 5, 2017, 12:47 AM email sent by Plaintiff to
"firstname.lastname@example.org, " an
Inbox managed by the Clerk's Office for new-filed cases
in this district. Dkt. 1-9. The email included an attachment,
which appears to be the e-filed complaint. See Id.
and Dkt. 1-2. Assuming that the three year statute of
limitations began on July 4, 2014, then July 4, 2017 would be
the last day for Plaintiff to file, and e-filing at 12:47 AM
on July 5, 2017 was forty-seven minutes too late. However,
July 4th is a legal holiday, a day when the
Clerk's Office is inaccessible, see Fed. R. Civ.
P. 6(b), so the statute of limitations therefore ran on July
5, 2017. Plaintiff timely e-filed the complaint.
Plaintiff had not timely e-filed the complaint, there is a
sufficient showing that the statute of limitations should be
equitably tolled. Plaintiff missed the statute of limitations
by a single day at most. Rule 6(b) extends the July 4, 2017
statute of limitations deadline by one day, to July 5, 2017,
and the date stamp received on the mailed complaint is July
6, 2017. Dkt. 1-3. Equitable tolling is warranted in this
case because its application is consistent with the purposes
of the §1983 cause of action and the statute of
limitations. Section 1983 "promote[s] compensation of
persons whose civil rights have been violated, and prevention
of abuse of state power." Hahn v. Waddington,
694 Fed.Appx. 494, 495 (9th Cir. 2017), citing
Burnett v. Grattan, 468 U.S. 42, 53 (1984). The
purpose of RCW 4.16.080(2) is "finality and protection
against stale and unverifiable claims." Id.,
citing Kittinger v. Boeing Co., 21 Wn.App. 484
(1978). The predicate to equitable tolling, consideration of
the plaintiffs diligence, is satisfied by Plaintiffs efforts,
where she made at least two attempts to timely file the
complaint. Equitable tolling would preclude dismissal, if the
complaint had not been timely e-filed.
Court does not reach the merits of Plaintiff s argument that
the statute of limitations should run from November 18, 2016,
because Plaintiff has not made a sufficient showing ...