United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' JOINT MOTION TO
DISMISS AMENDED COMPLAINT
O. RICE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
THE COURT is Defendants' Joint Motion to Dismiss Amended
Complaint. ECF No. 34. This matter was submitted for
consideration without oral argument. The Court has reviewed
the record and files herein, and is fully informed. For the
reasons discussed below, Defendants' Joint Motion to
Dismiss Amended Complaint (ECF No. 34) is
November 25, 2017, Plaintiff Stephen Kerr Eugster, proceeding
pro se, filed this Complaint against Defendants
Paula C. Littlewood and the Washington State Bar Association
("WSBA"). ECF No. 1. Mr. Eugster alleges violation
of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and
violation of procedural due process and his fundamental
rights because of compelled membership in the WSBA.
Id. at 8-10.
January 30, 2018, Ms. Littlewood and the WSBA filed a Motion
to Dismiss. ECF No. 8. On February 7, 2018, Mr. Eugster filed
an Amended Complaint, which removed the WSBA as a party and
added each Justice of the Washington State Supreme Court as
Defendants. ECF No. 9. The Amended Complaint also added and
removed claims. See id.
February 16, 2018, the parties jointly moved to withdraw the
pending Motion to Dismiss, as the relevance of the arguments
were affected by the Amended Complaint. ECF No. 21 at 2. The
parties further stipulated that Ms. Littlewood should be
allowed additional time to respond to the Amended Complaint.
Id. Lastly, the parties stipulated that former
Defendant WSBA should be formally dismissed from this matter.
Id. On February 22, 2018, the Court granted the
withdrawal of Ms. Littlewood's Motion to Dismiss and
ordered her to file a response to the Amended Complaint no
later than April 11, 2018. ECF No. 23 at 3. The Court
dismissed the WSBA from this case. Id.
March 1, 2018, Mr. Eugster filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment. ECF No. 25. On March 7, 2018, Defendants filed a
Motion to Strike Motion for Summary Judgment and to Stay
Other Proceedings Pending Adjudication of Motion to Dismiss.
ECF No. 27. The Court stayed all proceedings other than
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss until that motion is
resolved. ECF No. 33. The Court denied Defendants request to
strike Mr. Eugster's Motion for Summary Judgment.
Id. On March 22, 2018, Defendants filed the instant
Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 34.
following facts are principally drawn from Mr. Eugster's
Amended Complaint (ECF No. 9) and are accepted as true for
the purposes of the instant motion. See Bell Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007). Mr. Eugster is a
licensed attorney and a member of the WSBA. ECF No. 9 at
¶ 19. There are a number of prior cases between Mr.
Eugster and the WSBA and its officers.
first appears to have occurred in 2005 when the WSBA charged
Mr. Eugster with numerous counts of attorney misconduct. ECF
No. 9 at ¶ 43; In re Disciplinary Proceeding Against
Eugster, 166 Wash, 2d293 (2009)
(''Eugster 7"). The WSBA Disciplinary
Board unanimously recommended Mr. Eugster be disbarred, but
five justices of the Washington State Supreme Court decided
to suspend Mr. Eugster from the practice of law for 18 months
in June 2009. Eugster 7, 166 Wash, 2d at 311,
2010, Mr. Eugster filed suit against the WSBA, WSBA Board of
Governors, and Washington State Supreme Court Justices,
alleging that the WSBA's attorney discipline system
violated Mr. Eugster's due process rights under the Fifth
and Fourteenth Amendments. ECF No. 9 at ¶ 44;
Eugster v. Washington State Bar Ass'n, No.
CVO9-357-SMM, 2010 WL 2926237, at *2 (E.D. Wash. July 23,
2010) ("Eugster IF). The district court
dismissed the matter after finding Mr. Eugster lacked
standing and the Ninth Circuit affirmed. Eugster
II, 2010 WL 2926237, at *11; Eugster v.
Washington State Bar Ass'n, 474 Fed.Appx. 624 (9th
March 2015, Mr. Eugster filed another lawsuit against the
WSBA, various officers, and the Washington State Supreme
Court Justices, this time in the Western District of
Washington. ECF No. 9 at ¶ 45; Eugster v. Washington
State Bar Ass'n, No. C15-0375JLR, 2015 WL 5175722
(W.D. Wash. Sept. 3, 2015), affd, 684 F.App'x
618 (9th Cir. 2017) ("Eugster III"). Mr.
Eugster alleged that the mandatory WSBA membership and
required dues violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment
freedoms by compelling speech and association.
Eugster III, 2015 WL 5175722, at *2. Mr.
Eugster asserts that he sought to have the district court
overrule Lathrop v. Donohue, 367 U.S. 820 (1961),
and to apply strict constitutional scrutiny to his forced
membership in the WSBA. ECF No. 35 at 8. The Western District
of Washington dismissed Mr. Eugster's complaint. ECF No.
9 at ¶ 45; Eugster III, 2015 WL 5175722, at *9.
Mr. Eugster appealed to the Ninth Circuit. ECF No. 9 at
¶ 45. He asserts that the Ninth Circuit held that it
could not overrule Lathrop because it was a decision
of the United States Supreme Court. ECF No. 9 at ¶ 45;
see Eugster, 684 Fed.Appx. 618 (9th Cir. 2017). Mr.
Eugster then filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the
United States Supreme Court, but the petition was denied. ECF
No. 9 at ¶ 45; see Eugster v. Washington State Bar
Ass'n, 137 S.Ct. 2315 (2017).
November 2015, Mr. Eugster filed another lawsuit against the
WSBA and its officials in Spokane County Superior Court. ECF
No. 9 at ¶ 46; Eugster v. Washington State Bar
Ass'n, 198 Wash.App. 758, review denied,
189 Wash.2d 1018 (2017) ("Eugster IV").
Mr. Eugster alleged that the WSBA Washington Lawyer
Discipline System violated his rights to procedural due
process under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. ECF No. 35
at 10. The superior court dismissed the suit with prejudice
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to
state a claim. Eugster IV, 198 Wash.App. at 771. Mr.
Eugster appealed to Division III of the Washington Court of
Appeals. On appeal, Mr. Eugster also asserted that the WSBA
ended and a new association was born when the board added
limited practice officers and limited license legal
technicians as members to the association. Id. at
772. The court held that the trial court had subject matter
jurisdiction, but his action was barred under res judicata.
Id. at 796.
December 2015, Mr. Eugster filed a Complaint in this Court.
ECF Nos. 9 at ¶47; 35 at 11; Stephen Kerr Eugster v.
Littlewood, No. 2:15-CV-0352-TOR, 2016 WL 3632711 (E.D.
Wash. June 29, 2016) (''Eugster
V''). Mr. Eugster asserted claims against
the officials of the WSBA, alleging that the WSBA Washington
Lawyer System was unconstitutional because it did not pass
strict scrutiny and violated due process. Eugster V,
2016 WL 3632711, at *1. This Court dismissed with prejudice,
finding that Mr. Eugster's claims were barred by res
judicata. Id. at *6. Mr. Eugster asserts that his
appeal is currently pending in the Ninth Circuit. ECF Nos. 9
at ¶ 47; 35 at 11-12.
November 2016, Mr. Eugster filed suit against the WSBA and
its officials in the Western District of Washington.
Eugster v. State Bar Ass'n, No. 2:16-CV-1765
(W.D. Wash.) ("Eugster V''). Mr.
Eugster states that he "tooka non-suit rightfully taken
under court rules" and that this case is irrelevant. ECF
No. 35 at 12. Defendants assert that Mr. Eugster again
alleged that compulsory bar membership and fees were
unconstitutional and that the lawyer discipline system
violated due process. ECF No. 34 at 10. Defendants note that
Mr. Eugster voluntarily dismissed the case on January 4,
January 2017, Mr. Eugster was retained by WSBA attorneys
Robert E. Caruso and Sandra L. Ferguson to represent them in
a putative class action against the WSBA. ECF Nos. 9 at
¶ 48; 35 at 12-13; Caruso v. Wash. State Bar
Ass'n, No. C17-003 RSM, 2017 WL 1957077, at *1 (W.D.
Wash. May 11, 2017). Mr. Caruso and Ms. Ferguson alleged
violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendment for
compelled membership and dues in the WSBA. Caruso,
2017 WL 1957077, at *1. They also asserted that compulsory
dues violated their right of freedom of speech under the
First and Fourteenth Amendments. Id. They contested
that the WSBA discipline system violated their constitutional
due process rights and deprived their rights under the
doctrine of constitutional scrutiny. Id. The Western
District of Washington dismissed their claims with prejudice.
Id. at *5. The case was appealed to the Ninth
Circuit, which recently affirmed the district court.
Caruso v. Washington State Bar Ass'n 1933, 716
Fed.Appx. 650 (9th Cir. 2018).