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Bergson v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

May 2, 2018

CAROL BERGSON, an individual Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.




         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Parsons Corporation's Motion for Summary Judgment re: Statute of Limitations. Dkt. #25. Plaintiff has opposed the Motion. Dkt. #30. Defendant and Plaintiff have requested oral argument but the Court does not find oral argument necessary to resolve Defendant's Motion. Having considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record and for the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendant's Motion.


         On August 29, 2014, Plaintiff Carol Bergson was walking on a sidewalk adjacent to the Wedgewood Post Office in Seattle, Washington. Dkt. #1 at ¶ 24. At the intersection of the sidewalk and the parking lot, Plaintiff lost her footing and fell, suffering “fractured bones, soft tissue injuries, [and] other bodily injuries.” Id. at ¶¶ 24, 40. Plaintiff maintains that her injuries were the result of the Defendants' negligence. Dkt. #1.

         On July 7, 2016, Plaintiff submitted a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request to the United States Postal Service. Dkt. #31-1. The request sought information related to the design, construction, marking, and maintenance of the parking lot and sidewalks adjacent to the Wedgewood Post Office, and notice, consultation, advice, or complaints related to the parking lot or sidewalks. Id. Plaintiff received the Postal Service's response 54 days later, on August 30, 2016. Dkt. #31-2. The information provided in the response allowed Plaintiff to identify the involvement of Defendant Parsons Corporation. Dkt. #30 at 2; Dkt. #31 at ¶ 3.

         On July 20, 2016, Plaintiff filed suit in state court against Walton Investment Co., Inc. (the property owner), Unknown Persons 1-5, and Unknown Entities 1-5. Dkt. #26 at 5; Dkt. #1 at ¶ 14. Unknown Entities 1-5 were identified as “commercial entities . . . who, on information and belief, designed, constructed, marked, managed and/or maintained the walkway and/or parking lot.” Dkt. #26 at 6, ¶ 4. Plaintiff filed this federal court action on September 21, 2017, adding the United States of America, Defendant, and several other parties. Id.


         A. Standard of Review

         Summary judgment is appropriate where “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). Material facts are those which might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In ruling on summary judgment, a court does not weigh evidence to determine the truth of the matter, but “only determine[s] whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Crane v. Conoco, Inc., 41 F.3d 547, 549 (9th Cir. 1994) (citing Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp. v. O'Melveny & Meyers, 969 F.2d 744, 747 (9th Cir. 1992)).

         On a motion for summary judgment, the court views the evidence and draws inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Sullivan v. U.S. Dep't of the Navy, 365 F.3d 827, 832 (9th Cir. 2004). However, “[t]he mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-moving party's] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party].” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251. The non-moving party must make a “sufficient showing on [each] essential element of her case with respect to which she has the burden of proof” to survive summary judgment. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

         B. Plaintiff's Claims Are Time Barred Under Washington Law

         When, as here, the Court presides over supplemental state law claims, “the court applies state substantive law to the state law claims.” Mason & Dixon Intermodal, Inc. v. Lapmaster Int'l LLC, 632 F.3d 1056, 1060 (9th Cir. 2011) (citations omitted). The Court must apply the state's statute of limitations and integrally related rules, follow decisions of the highest state court, and in the absence of precedent, predict how the issue would be resolved by the state's highest court. Albano v. Shea Homes Ltd. Partnership, 634 F.3d 524, 530 (9th Cir. 2011) (citations omitted).

         The parties agree that Plaintiff's claims against Defendant are governed by Washington law and that Washington's general statute of limitations related to personal injuries applies, requiring that actions be commenced within three years of accrual. RCW 4.16.080(2) (“The following actions shall be commenced within three years: . . . (2) An action . . . for any other injury to the person or rights of another not hereinafter enumerated.”); RCW 4.16.005 (action can be commenced within three years ...

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