United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
C. Coughenour UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion to
amend a judgment and/or to seek relief from a judgment (Dkt.
No. 95). Having thoroughly considered the parties'
briefing and the relevant record, the Court DENIES the motion
for the reasons explained herein.
Lori Shavlik was charged with arson after a 2010 fire at her
Snohomish County business. (Dkt. No. 81 at 1-3.) Following
her acquittal, she and her husband brought claims for
constitutional violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. section 1983
and state law claims for defamation, outrage, and malicious
prosecution. (Dkt. No. 1-2 at 6-7.) Plaintiffs alleged that
in an effort to support the County's criminal prosecution
of Ms. Shavlik, Snohomish County, the City of Snohomish, and
the Snohomish County Fire Protection District No. 4 made
defamatory public statements, failed to preserve evidence,
destroyed evidence, and fabricated evidence. (Id. at
1-7.) The City of Snohomish and the Snohomish County Fire
Protection District No. 4 (“Movants”) moved for
summary judgment, seeking dismissal of all claims. (Dkt. Nos.
29, 34.) The Court found that Plaintiffs' allegations
amounted to no more than non-actionable negligence and
granted the motion as to Movants and nonmovant Snohomish
County. (Dkt. No. 81 at 11.) Plaintiffs now move, pursuant to
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 59(e) and 60(b)(1), to set
aside the Court's judgment against Snohomish County.
(Dkt. No. 95.) Plaintiffs assert that the judgment is based
on the Court's misapplication of relevant precedent and
mistaken facts. (Id. at 1-2.) Plaintiffs also assert
that the judgment should be set aside because of newly
discovered evidence. (Id.)
59(e) motion may be granted if the Court committed
“clear error” or “is presented with newly
discovered evidence.” McDowell v. Calderon,
197 F.3d 1253, 1255 (9th Cir. 1999). Similarly, a Rule 60(b)
motion may be granted based on “mistake” or
“newly discovered evidence.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
60(b)(1), (2). However, Rule 60(b)(1) relief is to be
provided “sparingly” and only in
“extraordinary circumstances.” U.S. v. Alpine
Land & Reservoir Co., 984 F.2d 1047, 1049 (9th Cir.
first argue that the Court misapplied the holding in
Abagninin v. AMVAC Chem. Corp. when it dismissed
Plaintiffs' claims against Snohomish County. (Dkt. No. 95
at 2) (citing 545 F.3d 733 (9th Cir. 2008)). In
Abagninin, the Ninth Circuit held that a nonmoving
defendant in a similar position to a moving defendant could
be dismissed based on a movant's motion, even if the
nonmoving defendant had not yet been served. 545 F.3d at 743.
Plaintiffs distinguish Abagninin from this case on
the basis that the nonmoving defendant in Abagninin
had not yet appeared, whereas Snohomish County had. (Dkt.
Nos. 95 at 2, 98 at 1.) But this distinction does not warrant
a different outcome. The critical issue is whether dismissal
of a nonmoving defendant would increase the risk of error by
shortcutting the adversarial development of facts and law.
See Columbia Steel Fabricators, Inc. v. Ahlstrom
Recovery, 44 F.3d 800, 802 (9th Cir. 1995) (dismissing
all claims against a defendant based on a motion for summary
judgment brought by another defendant). Dismissal here would
not increase the risk of error because Plaintiffs'
factual allegations are indistinguishable against the County
and City. (See Dkt. No. 81 at 3 n.1, 11 n.5)
(describing the shared law enforcement arrangement between
the County and City); (Dkt. No. 40 at 8) (describing
Defendants as a “seamless prosecution team”). The
Court did not misapply Abagninin.
next argue that the County Prosecutor's misdeeds are
distinct from those of the movants because the
Prosecutor's misdeeds stem from animus generated in a
2009 incident involving Plaintiffs' daughter. (Dkt. No.
95 at 3-4.) But the only evidence Plaintiffs provide in
support of animus allegations is an e-mail exchange from a
County legal assistant to a Fire District representative
describing Ms. Shavlik's request for a continuance in her
arson proceeding as something worthy of “giggle
fits.” (Dkt. No. 95-7 at 1.) This is insufficient to
support the level of animus alleged by Plaintiffs.
Plaintiffs allege they present newly discovered evidence.
Relief from a judgment based on newly discovered evidence is
only warranted if that evidence is likely to change the
disposition of Plaintiffs' case. Jones v. Aero/Chem
Corp., 921 F.2d 875, 878 (9th Cir. 1990).
Plaintiffs' evidence fails to meet this standard.
Plaintiffs present excerpts from the depositions of two
Snohomish County Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys, both of whom
worked on Ms. Shavlik's criminal case. (Dkt. No. 95 at
6-8.) Notably, one of the depositions was taken
before Movants' summary judgment motion. (Dkt.
No. 95-1 at 3.) Further, after careful review, the Court
concludes that none of this testimony is likely to change the
disposition of Plaintiffs' case. (See generally
Dkt. Nos. 95-1, 95-2).
foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs' motion to amend and/or to
seek relief from the judgment in favor of ...