United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON
THE PLEADINGS AND GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Barbara Stuart
Robinson's ("Plaintiff) motion for summary judgment
(Dkt. 18) and Defendant Dennis Howard Ball's
("Commissioner Ball") motion for summary judgment
(Dkt. 20). The Court has considered the pleadings filed in
support of and in opposition to the motions and the remainder
of the file and for the reasons stated herein (1) denies
Plaintiff's motion and (2) grants summary judgment in
favor of Commissioner Ball.
17, 2017, Plaintiff was charged in Tacoma Municipal Court for
Criminal Trespass and Obstruction of a Law Enforcement
Officer. Dkt. 21 at 6. The prosecutor's probable cause
statement alleged that as police officers were attempting to
conduct a welfare check on a reported subject in a motorized
chair at an Econolodge in Tacoma, Washington, Plaintiff
approached them, identified herself as a federal agent and
told them that they were trespassing on the property.
Id. at 8. As the officers attempted to locate the
subject of their reported welfare check, Plaintiff proceeded
to follow them while yelling that they were trespassing and
that she would place them under arrest. Id. The
on-duty clerk of the Econolodge then informed the officers
that Plaintiff was not a guest of the facility and requested
that they remove her from the property due to her disruptive
behavior. Id. Plaintiff refused to leave upon the
officers' request. Id. Ultimately, the officers
abandoned their original welfare check to address Plaintiff
in light of her refusal to leave the property and the
disturbance she was causing despite repeated instructions to
leave the police alone. Id. Plaintiff was arrested
and booked into the Pierce County Jail for trespassing and
obstruction of a law enforcement officer.
18, 2017, Plaintiff was arraigned in Tacoma Municipal Court
before Commissioner Ball. See Dkt. 21 at 11.
Plaintiff was represented by defense counsel who informed
Commissioner Ball that he was concerned over Plaintiffs
competency to stand trial. Id. at 13-14.
Accordingly, the Commissioner Ball ordered that Plaintiff be
held without bail until July 26, 2017, when a competency
evaluation could be completed pursuant to the procedures
outlined in RCW 10.77 and Plaintiff could appear before Judge
Elizabeth Verhey. Id. at 12-15. When the evaluation
could not be performed until July 31, 2017, the hearing was
set over until August 2, 2017.
August 2, 2017, Plaintiff again appeared before Judge Verhey
in the Tacoma Municipal Court. See Dkt. 21 at 30.
Based on the results of the competency evaluation performed
by the Washington Department of Social and Health Services,
see Id. at 49-53, Judge Verhey determined that
Plaintiff lacked the rational capacity to understand the
nature of the proceedings and to assist in her defense.
Id. at 34-35. Judge Verhey then dismissed the
charges against Plaintiff and she was referred to health
treatment for a civil commitment evaluation pursuant to RCW
10.77.088. Id. at 38-45. Once the 72-hour period set
forth in RCW 10.77.088(1)(c)(ii) had elapsed without a
determination by a designated mental health professional as
to whether a petition for involuntary commitment should be
filed, Plaintiff was released from custody.
August 17, 2017, Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit against
Commissioner Ball in Pierce County Superior Court. Dkt. 1-2.
Plaintiff claims that the stay of her plea hearing by
Commissioner Ball violated a variety of federal and state
laws. Id. at 2-13. On September 11, 2017,
Commissioner Ball removed the case to this court. Dkt. 1.
January 6, 2018, Plaintiff moved for judgment on the
pleadings. Dkt. 18. On January 8, 2017, Commissioner Ball
moved for summary judgment. Dkt. 20. On January 8, 2018,
Plaintiff responded to Commissioner Ball's motion. Dkt.
23. On January 25, 2018, Commissioner Ball responded to
Plaintiff's motion. Dkt. 24. On January 29 and 30, 2018,
Plaintiff replied on her motion for judgment on the
pleadings. Dkts. 25, 26. On February 2, 2018, Commissioner
replied on its motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 27. On
February 14 and 15, 2018, Plaintiff filed additional
declarations in support of her pleadings. Dkts. 29, 30.
Court grants Commissioner Ball's motion for summary
judgment. Summary 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 (1986). 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(e). 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., 477 U.S. 242, 253
(1986); T. W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors
Ass 'n, 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, 477 U.S. at 254; T. W. Elec.
Serv., 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. Elec. Serv., Inc., 809 F.2d at 630
(relying on Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). Conclusory,
nonspecific statements in affidavits are not sufficient, and
missing facts will not be presumed. Lujan v. Nat'l
Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888-89 (1990).
has failed to produce any evidence in support of her claims.
Instead, she offers only the formulaic recitation that the
stay of her plea proceedings and her subsequent 16-day
detention constituted a "breach of fiduciary duty"
and a violation of her rights. See Dkt. 18 at 2.
Nowhere in her complaint or declarations does she allege
conduct by Commissioner Ball other than his order staying her
plea proceedings pending the outcome of a RCW 10.77 initial
competency evaluation. The record plainly establishes that
this order was a judicial act by Commissioner Ball in his
capacity as the Tacoma Municipal Court Commissioner while
presiding over Plaintiffs arraignment. See Duvall v. Cty.
of Kitsap, 260 F.3d 1124, 1133 (9th Cir. 2001).
Accordingly, Commissioner Ball is entitled to absolute
judicial immunity for his order and Plaintiff cannot prevail
on her claims against him. Id.
it is hereby ORDERED that Plaintiff's
motion for judgment on the pleadings (Dkt. 18) is
DENIED and Commissioner Ball's ...