United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT, REQUESTING RESPONSE, AND RESETTING
DISPOSITIVE MOTIONS DEADLINE
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on the joint motion for summary
judgment of Defendants Abbott Adult Family Homes, LLC
(“AAFH”); Kristy Danforth
(“Danforth”), RN; Nancy Dufraine
(“Dufraine”); Florence Fadele, ARNP
(“Fadele”); Heather Hoyle (“Hoyle”);
Kelsie Moen, RN (“Moen”); Bhakta Rizal; Renna
Rizal; Sandra Sanders (“Sanders”); Trisha Shipp,
LPN (“Shipp”); State of Washington
(“State”); and the Confederated Tribes of The
Chehalis Reservation's (“Tribe”)
(collectively “Defendants”) (Dkt. 93). The Court
has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in
opposition to the motion and the remainder of the file and
hereby grants the motion in part for the reasons stated
November 1, 2016, the Estate of Jolene Lovelett (“the
Estate”) filed a complaint against Defendants and the
United States of America asserting claims for violations of
42 U.S.C. § 1983; violations of Washington's Abuse
of Vulnerable Adults Act, RCW Chapter 74.34; and the
“common law torts under Washington law, including
assault, battery, negligence, neglect, abandonment, outrage
and infliction of emotional distress.” Dkt. 1.
1, 2017, the Court granted the United States' motion to
dismiss. Dkt. 54.
March 15, 2018, Defendants filed a joint motion for summary
judgment. Dkt. 93. On April 2, 2018, the Estate responded.
Dkt. 114. On April 6, 2018, Defendants replied and moved to
strike certain evidence the Estate submitted in support of
its position. Dkt. 122. On April 11, 2018, the Estate filed a
surreply requesting that the Court strike evidence submitted
by Defendants. Dkt. 143.
March 22, 2018, the Estate filed a motion for partial summary
judgment. Dkt. 106. On April 9, 2018, all defendants
responded. Dkts. 128, 133, 134, 135, 139. On April 13, 2018,
the Estate replied. Dkt. 144.
14, 2018, the Court granted the parties' motion to
dismiss the Tribe. Dkt. 152.
facts relevant to Defendants' motion are mostly
undisputed. Lovelett was born with severe physical and
developmental disabilities and essentially dependent upon
caregivers for all aspects of her life. Lovelett was a member
of the Tribe, and on February 28, 2006, the Chehalis Tribal
Court appointed Arnold Cooper (“Cooper”) as a
limited guardian of Lovelett “to make informed
decisions regarding all medical, residential and other daily
living decisions necessary.” Dkt. 99 at 5.
beginning of 2013, Lovelett qualified for Medicaid assistance
administered through the Washington Department of Social
Health Services (“DSHS”). Dkt. 98, ¶ 6. At
that time, Jessica Ward was Lovelett's DSHS case manager.
Id. Although the timing is unclear, it appears that
Lovelett was hospitalized or in a hospital in early March
2013. Around that time Sanders, a case resource manager with
the Developmental Disabilities Administration division of
DSHS, replaced Ms. Ward. Id. It also seems that
Chehalis Tribal Adult Services case manager Hoyle was
involved in some capacity with Lovelett's care. Sometime
before March 20, 2013, the Tribe requested a review hearing
of Lovelett's case pursuant to its vulnerable adult code.
Dkt. 99 at 12. On March 20, 2013, the tribal court entered an
order appointing Chehalis Tribal Adult Services to act in
Lovelett's best interest, make all necessary decisions
regarding Lovelett's “health, safety, and welfare,
” and assist her in “obtaining all necessary
services for her well-being.” Id. at 13.
Pursuant to the order, Hoyle, an adult services social worker
employed by the Tribe, became Lovelett's guardian, in
addition to Cooper.
early April 2013, Lovelett was transferred to AAFH, which was
owned by Bhakta Rizal. Dkt. 95, ¶ 2. On April 3, 2013,
Hoyle signed AAFH's admission agreement for
Medicaid-eligible residents. Dkt. 94 at 9-31. AAFH, through
its employees Mr. Rizal and his wife Renna (the
“Rizals”), provided Lovelett with “room,
board, laundry and necessary supervision and assistance with
daily living activities.” Dkt. 95, ¶ 2. Nurse
Delegator Danforth also monitored and cared for Lovelett.
Id. ¶ 3. Danforth declares that she was an
independent contractor for, and not an employee of, the State
when she provided services to Lovelett. Dkt. 100, ¶ 6.
early April, Sanders discovered that Lovelett no longer
qualified for Medicaid. Dkt. 98, ¶ 7. As a member of the
Tribe, Lovelett received a monthly disbursement, which
resulted in her financial assets exceeding the $2, 000
Medicaid qualification limit. Id. DSHS concluded
that Medicaid funding would stop in late June 2013.
Id. ¶ 8. Sanders, however, kept Lovelett's
file open in case Lovelett spent down her assets below the
$2, 000 limit. Id.
the State ended Medicaid payments, Hoyle managed the
contracts and payments on behalf of Chehalis Tribal Adult
Services for Lovelett's care. She hired Danforth as an
independent contractor to oversee care. Dkt. 100, ¶ 7.
Hoyle also contracted with nurse practitioner Fadele and
assigned tribal employees nurse Shipp and nurse ...