United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' OBJECTION TO AND APPEAL FROM
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S ORDER
J. BRYAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on the Defendants'
Objection to and Appeal from Magistrate Judge's Order.
Dkt. 67. The Court has considered the objection and appeal
and the remaining file.
civil rights case, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants were
deliberately indifferent to his mental health when they sent
him to the Washington State Penitentiary and failed to
protect him from an inmate on inmate assault which allegedly
occurred on April 26, 2010. Dkt. 19.
originally filed the case on April 26, 2013, in the U.S.
District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. Dkt.
30, at 1. Rather than transferring the case to this Court
(the venue in which the Defendants reside), the Eastern
District of Washington Court dismissed the case on September
19, 2013. Dkt. 30, at 2. Plaintiff filed this case on January
15, 2014, over three years and eight months after he was
allegedly assaulted and four months after the Eastern
District of Washington Court dismissed his case. Dkt. 1.
November 19, 2014, a Report and Recommendation was filed,
which recommended dismissal of the case because the three
year statute of limitations prevented consideration of the
claims and considering all allegations in Plaintiff's
complaint, he made no showing that he was entitled to
equitable tolling; he did not show (1) bad faith, deception,
or false assurances by defendants, and (2) the exercise of
diligence. Dkt. 32. The undersigned adopted the Report and
Recommendation. Dkt. 36.
5, 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the
decision of this Court, and held that it “erred when it
dismissed Hahn's § 1983 claim as untimely as a
matter of law.” Hahn v. Waddington, Ninth Cir.
Court of Appeals case number 15-35091; in the record, and
hereinafter cited, as Dkt. 44. The Ninth Circuit held:
Although the complaint was filed over three years after
Hahn's alleged injury, Washington law mandates equitable
tolling when, as here, “justice requires.”
Hahn's complaint was untimely through no fault of his
own. Hahn timely and appropriately filed in the Eastern
District of Washington; after the Eastern District dismissed
Hahn's claims against residents of the district, that
court erred by dismissing instead of transferring venue to
the Western District of Washington, where the sole remaining
defendants resided. By the time Hahn received notice of the
dismissal, the statute of limitations had expired.
Under the particular circumstances of this case, equitable
tolling is consistent with the policies underlying §
1983, and it is not inconsistent with those served by
Washington's statute of limitations. . . Strict adherence
to the statute of limitations in the face of procedural
unfairness cannot be reconciled with § 1983, which
exists to promote compensation of persons whose civil rights
have been violated, and prevention of the abuse of state
power. Moreover, the purposes underlying the statute of
limitations-finality and protection against stale and
unverifiable claims-will not be frustrated by allowing
equitable tolling here.
Under Washington law, justice requires tolling, but the
remedy is modest-Hahn will simply be placed in the position
he would have been in had the Eastern District appropriately
transferred his claim.
Thus, Hahn is entitled to equitable tolling under Washington
law only if he was diligent in pursuing this action in the
Western District of Washington after dismissal. A dispute of
fact remains as to Hahn's diligence, which cannot be
resolved on appeal.
Id. (internal citations omitted). The case
was remanded. Id. The mandate was issued on June 27,
2017. Dkt. 46. This case was referred to U.S. Magistrate
Judge Theresa L. Fricke for further proceedings. Dkt. 48.
August 30, 2017, the magistrate judge ordered the Defendants
to show cause, if any they had, why “equitable tolling
should not apply” and gave Plaintiff an opportunity to
respond. Dkt. 55. Both parties responded. Dkts. 61 and 63. On
November 16, 2017, the magistrate judge issued an order
finding that Plaintiff was entitled to equitable tolling of
the statute of limitations. Dkt. 65.
November 29, 2017, Defendants filed the instant objection and
appeal. Dkt. 67. Defendants argue that the magistrate judge
exceeded her authority in issuing the November 16, 2017
order, (rather than issuing a report and recommendation)
because the issue was a dispositive one on their defense of
the statute of limitations. Id. Further, the
Defendants assert that the decision, that Plaintiff was
entitled to equitable tolling, was in error. Id.