United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
MELISSA A. REIMER Plaintiff,
THE COUNTY OF SNOHOMISH, SNOHOMISH COUNTY FIRE DISTRICT #1, AND BRAD REDDING, Defendants.
Honorable Richard A. Jones, United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to
Quash Service and to Dismiss. Dkt. # 16. Plaintiff opposes
the motion. Dkt. # 18. For the reasons that follow, the Court
GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the
filed suit against Defendants Snohomish County Fire District
# 1 (“Fire District”) and Fire Chief Brad
Reading, in his individual and official capacity, for federal
and state discrimination claims and emotional distress. Dkt.
# 1 (Complaint). Plaintiff has been represented by counsel
since commencing the lawsuit. Nonetheless, Plaintiff did not
properly serve Defendants with the Complaint and Summons, and
the Court issued an order to show cause why it should not
dismiss the claims for failure to serve. Dkt. # 4. Plaintiff,
through her attorneys, responded to the order to show cause
and committed to properly serving Defendants. Dkt. # 9.
serve Mr. Reading, Plaintiff served the Washington State
Attorney General, Dkt. # 10, and Mr. Reading's
administrative assistant, Dkt. # 11. Plaintiff did not file
any affidavits of service of summons and complaint that
directly addressed the Fire District. Weeks after Defendants
filed this motion and well after its noting date, Plaintiff
asked the clerk to issue summons on the Fire District. Dkt. #
20. The clerk electronically issued summons to the Fire
District but no response from the Fire District has been
recorded. Dkt. # 21.
seek dismissal pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
12(b)(5) and 12(b)(6). It is axiomatic that the court cannot
exercise jurisdiction over a defendant without proper service
of process. See Murphy Bros., Inc. v. Michetti Pipe
Stringing, Inc., 526 U.S. 344, 350 (1999); S.E.C. v.
Ross, 504 F.3d 1130, 1138-39 (9th Cir. 2007)
(“[I]n the absence of proper service of process, the
district court has no power to render any judgment against
the defendant's person or property unless the defendant
has consented to jurisdiction or waived lack of
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(5) allows a defendant to move
to dismiss an action where service of process of a summons
and complaint is insufficient. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(b)(5). Once a defendant challenges service of process, the
plaintiff bears the burden of establishing the validity of
service of process under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4.
Brockmeyer v. May, 383 F.3d 798, 801 (9th Cir.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a court to dismiss a
complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The rule requires the
court to assume the truth of the complaint's factual
allegations and credit all reasonable inferences arising from
those allegations. Sanders v. Brown, 504 F.3d 903,
910 (9th Cir. 2007). A court “need not accept as true
conclusory allegations that are contradicted by documents
referred to in the complaint.” Manzarek v. St. Paul
Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 519 F.3d 1025, 1031 (9th
Cir. 2008). The plaintiff must point to factual allegations
that “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 568 (2007). If the plaintiff succeeds, the complaint
avoids dismissal if there is “any set of facts
consistent with the allegations in the complaint” that
would entitle the plaintiff to relief. Id. at 563;
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).
typically cannot consider evidence beyond the four corners of
the complaint, although it may rely on a document to which
the complaint refers if the document is central to the
party's claims and its authenticity is not in question.
Marder v. Lopez, 450 F.3d 445, 448 (9th Cir. 2006).
A court may also consider evidence subject to judicial
notice. United States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 908
(9th Cir. 2003).
Failure to properly serve the Fire District and Mr.
Fire District is a government entity that must be served
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(j)(2). Rule
4(j)(2) requires Plaintiff to serve the Fire District by
either (1) serving the chief executive officer, or (2)
serving “in the manner prescribed by that state's
law for serving a summons or like process on such a
defendant.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(j)(2). In Washington,
plaintiffs suing a fire district must serve “the
superintendent or commissioner thereof or by leaving the same
in his or her office with an assistant superintendent, deputy
commissioner, or business manager during normal business
hours.” Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 4.28.080. As an
initial matter, Plaintiff did not direct any summons to the
fire district. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(a)(1) (requiring summons to be
directed to the defendant). She only directed summons to Mr.
Reading. However, even if she had directed summons to the
fire district, she did not serve any entity listed in RCW
is suing Chief Reading in both his individual and official
capacity, but she failed to effectuate proper service either
way. To serve Mr. Reading in his official capacity, Plaintiff
needed to serve the Fire District, which she failed to do
properly. To serve Mr. Reading in his individual capacity,
Plaintiff needed to ...