United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
MARGARET BOZGOZ, as personal representative of the ESTATE OF EVALANI A. YOCKMAN and Attorney in Fact for ELDA YOCKMAN, et al., Plaintiffs,
YOUSSEF ESSAKAHI, et al., Defendants.
B. Leighton United States District Judge.
MATTER IS BEFORE THE Court on the following Motions:
Plaintiff Bozgoz's Motion to Move Case to Seattle and
Appoint a Female Judge [Dkt. #3], and Bozgoz's Motion to
Deny/Ignore all of Defendants' Motions Until They
(defendants) are Officially Served [Dkt. #10].
to the Complaint, Evalani Yockman was injured in 2013, while
being transported by Defendant Life Transportation. She died,
apparently from other causes (she was elderly) a year later.
Bozgoz (who is Evalani Yockman's cousin) was named the
personal representative of her estate. Bozgoz is also
apparently the attorney in fact (possibly with a written
power of attorney) for Evalani's daughter, Elda Yockman.
is not an attorney. Nevertheless, she apparently made some
sort of claim or settlement demand on Life Transportation and
its insurer, Zurich. At some point, Bozgoz did retain an
attorney (Peter Angelo) to represent the estate and to
attempt to recover damages from Zurich. Those negotiations
failed, and Angelo withdrew in June 2016. A month later
Bozgoz retained attorney Bruce Wolf to represent the estate
also was not able to negotiate a settlement acceptable to
Zurich and Bozgoz, and he either quit or was fired shortly
before the presumably-applicable three year limitations
period for the estate's claim against Life Transport
expired. Bozgoz claims that Angelo and Wolf each engaged in
“secret” negotiations with Zurich's adjusters
and attorneys. [See Complaint Dkt. #1. and exhibits
event, facing that deadline, in October 2016, Bozgoz filed a
lawsuit on behalf of the Estate and Elda against Life
Transport and its driver, in Pierce County Superior Court.
The case was assigned to Judge Rumbaugh. The Seattle law firm
Forsberg and Umlauf represented the defendants.
Rumbaugh granted Life Transport's Motion to Strike
Bozgoz's complaint (because she was not an attorney
authorized to practice law and therefore cannot represent
others) at a hearing on December 23, 2016. Bozgoz alleges
that that hearing was deficient in a number of ways.
appealed the dismissal. [See Dkt. #1-2; Respondents Brief in
the Washington Court of Appeals]. That appeal is apparently
event, Bozgoz has now sued in this Court, again signing the
pleading as the personal representative of the Estate and the
attorney in fact for Elda. She asserts various claims against
Life Transport and its driver, Forsberg and Umlauf and the
attorneys who represented Life Transport in state court,
Zurich, Judge Rumbaugh, the Court reporters and Court clerk,
and Angelo and Wolf, the two attorneys she previously engaged
to represent her cousin and niece.
asks the Court to transfer the case to Seattle (based on
“past discrimination bias”), and to appoint a
female judge to preside over it (due to “recurring
civil rights violations”). She also seeks
“reasonable accommodation” though she has not
described her disability or the accommodation she requires.
Local Rule 3(e), cases in this District are generally
assigned to Tacoma where the incident giving rise to the
lawsuit occurred in Pierce County. Both the initial accident
and the alleged errors in the state law case took place in
Motion to Transfer the case to Seattle therefore DENIED. The
Motion to assign the case to a female judge based on
recurring civil rights violations does not make sense. It too
Support, its driver (Essakhi), and the attorney defendants
have moved to dismiss the Complaint [Dkt. #6]. Bozgoz asks
the Court to Deny or Ignore [Dkt. #10] defendants'
Motion, until she serves summonses on them. She appears to
believe that a defendant must wait to be served until it can
move for dismissal under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12. But that is not
accurate. Indeed, one of the bases for a motion to dismiss
(prior to pleading) is “insufficiency of service of
process.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(5). It is not unfair-much
less, unethical-for the Defendants to file, serve and
properly note for hearing a Motion to Dismiss prior to
service and prior to Answering the Complaint.
particularly true in the unique situation presented here,
where one of the primary bases for the motion to dismiss is
the same basis upon which the state law case was dismissed:
Bozgoz is not an attorney and she cannot represent anyone or
any entity other than herself pro se. Representing
another person or entity in court is the practice of law. To
practice law, one must be an attorney. RCW 2.48.170. Thus
Washington, like all federal courts, follows the common law
rule that corporations appearing in court proceedings must be
represented by an attorney. There is a pro se
exception to this general rule, under which a person
“may appear and act in any court as his own attorney
without threat of sanction for unauthorized practice.”
The pro se exception is, however, extremely limited
and applies “only ...