United States District Court, W.D. Washington
ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT
L. ROBART United States District Judge
the court is the City of Tacoma, Tacoma Police Officer Eric
Scripps, and Tacoma Police Officers Does I-X's
(collectively, "Defendants") motion for summary
judgment. (MSJ (Dkt. #21).) Specifically, Defendants rely on
the stipulation and release agreement signed by Plaintiff Nsa
Sam on December 17, 2014, as the basis for their motion.
(Id. at 6-11.) The court has considered the motion,
the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law.
Being fully advised,  the court GRANTS Defendants' motion
for summary judgment and DISMISSES this case with prejudice.
September 2013, Officer Scripps was a police patrol officer
for the Tacoma Police Department ("TPD") and
assigned to the Special Investigations Division. (Scripps
Aff. (Dkt. # 23) ¶¶ 2-3.) At that time, Officer
Scripps identified Ms. Sam as a suspect in a narcotics
investigation. (Id. ¶¶ 4-6.) Officer
Scripps worked with a confidential informant to conduct two
controlled buys of illegal narcotics from Ms. Sam.
(Id. ¶ 4; id. ¶ 13, Ex. 2
("Incident Rep.") at 6.) The controlled buys
involved Ms. Sam's vehicles: her 2007 Ford Mustang and
her 2008 Dodge Charger. (See Id. ¶ 4; Incident
Rep. at 6.) On September 20, 2013, the Pierce County Superior
Court granted Officer Scripps's request for a search
warrant. (Incident Rep. at 7.)
September 23, 2013, Officer Scripps and the TPD executed the
search warrant for Ms. Sam's townhome, apartment, the
2007 Ford Mustang, and the 2008 Dodge Charger. (See
Incident Rep. at 7-8.) During the search, the TPD seized $12,
780.00 in cash, the 2007 Ford Mustang, prescription pills,
other drugs and drug paraphernalia, and a
firearm. (See id.; Homan Aff. ¶ 4,
Ex. 2 ("Sept. Not. of Seizure").) On September 25,
2013, the TPD served Ms. Sam with a notice of seizure and
intended forfeiture for the $12, 780.00, and the 2007 Ford
Mustang. (See Sept. Not. of Seizure.) During the
initial search, however, Officer Scripps did not locate Ms.
Sam's 2008 Dodge Charger. (Incident Rep. at 11.)
result of the first search, Officer Scripps applied for and
obtained a seizure warrant for the Dodge Charger from the
Pierce County Superior Court on September 25, 2013.
(See Homan Aff. ¶ 5, Ex. 3 ("Dodge Seizure
Warrant").) He provided the seizure warrant to South
Sound 911, a separate agency that provides dispatch and
records services to Pierce County agencies, in order for
other law enforcement officers in the field to act upon the
warrant. (Scripps Aff. ¶ 10.) On November 30, 2013, the
City of Kent Police Department and various Kent police
officers stopped Ms. Sam while she was driving the Dodge
Charger. (Scripps Aff. ¶ 11; Incident Rep. at 16.) Kent
Police Officer Robert Kellams and Kent Police Sergeant John
Pagel secured the vehicle until Officer Scripps was available
to take custody. (See Incident Rep. at 16.) Officer
Scripps and the TPD subsequently took custody of the vehicle
and sent Ms. Sam a notice of intended forfeiture.
(See Homan Aff. ¶ 6, Ex. 4 ("Dec. Not. of
December 2, 2013, the TPD commenced administrative forfeiture
proceedings. (See id ¶ 7, Ex. 5 ("Pet. for
Removal") ¶ 1.) The City of Tacoma ("the
City"), however, resolved the forfeiture matter with Ms.
Sam in December 2014 pursuant to a stipulation and release.
(Homan Aff. ¶ 8, Ex. 6 ("Release").) According
to the terms of the release, the City returned $2, 500.00 and
the 2008 Dodge Charger, and in exchange, Ms. Sam forfeited
the remaining $10, 280.00 and the 2007 Ford Mustang.
(Id.) Furthermore, Ms. Sam agreed to release the
City, the TPD, and its officers and employees "from any
and all actions, claims or damages he or she may have in any
way connected with or arising out of the City's seizure,
storage, and return of said property, including but not
limited to attorney's fees." (Release at 2-3.) Both
Ms. Sam and her attorney signed the release. (Mat 3.)
filed the present action on November 30, 2016, in Pierce
County Superior Court. (Not. of Rem. (Dkt. # 1) ¶¶ 1-4;
see also Compl. (Dkt. # 1-1).) On January 12, 2017,
Defendants removed the action to federal court. (Not of Rem.
¶¶ 1-4.) On March 1, 2017, Ms. Sam filed an amended
complaint asserting four claims against Defendants: (1) a
claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for municipal liability
against the City for failing to adequately train its police
officers about "what constitutes probable cause to seize
a vehicle" (id. ¶ 15); (2) a claim under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Officer Scripps for
unreasonable seizure of the 2008 Dodge Charger in violation
of the Fourth Amendment (id. ¶¶ 22-26);
(3) a claim against the City under the theory of
respondeat superior because Officer Scripps
"was acting within the course and scope of his
employment" (id. ¶¶ 27-28); and (4) a
state law claim for false arrest and imprisonment arising
from the November 30, 2013, stop by Kent Police Officers
(id. ¶¶ 29-31).
case, Ms. Sam was represented by counsel until February 12,
2018, when the court granted her attorney's motion to
withdraw. (See 2/12/18 Order (Dkt. # 20).) Thus, Ms.
Sam now appears before the court pro se. On April 9,
2018, Defendants filed the present motion for summary
judgment, which the court now considers. (See
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is appropriate if the evidence 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); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Galen v. Cty. of LA., 477
F.3d 652, 658 (9th Cir. 2007). A fact is "material"
if it might affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., Ml U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual
dispute is "'genuine' only if there is
sufficient evidence for a reasonable fact finder to find for
the non-moving party." Far Out Prods., Inc. v.
Oskar, 247 F.3d 986, 992 (9th Cir. 2001) (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49).
moving party bears the initial burden of showing there is no
genuine dispute of material fact and that it is entitled to
prevail as a matter of law. Celotex, 477 U.S. at
323. If the moving party does not bear the ultimate burden of
persuasion at trial, it can show the absence of such a
dispute in two ways: (1) by producing evidence negating an
essential element of the nonmoving party's case, or (2)
by showing that the nonmoving party lacks evidence of an
essential element of its claim or defense. Nissan Fire
& Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Cos.,210 F.3d 1099, 1106
(9th Cir. 2000). If the moving party meets its burden of
production, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving ...