United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
WARREN E. BELL, Plaintiff,
JEANETTE FISCHER, et al., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT BREINER'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND STRIKING DISCOVERY MOTIONS AS
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Mindy
Breiner's Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. #31.
Defendant Breiner seeks dismissal of Plaintiff's claims
against her, asserting that she did nothing improper, she
committed no due process violation, and she is entitled to
quasi-judicial and qualified immunity for performing the
integral judicial task of a court clerk by updating the court
information database. Id. Plaintiff essentially
responds that Defendant Breiner violated his right to due
process by breaching her duty of care to him. Dkt. #32. For
the reasons set forth below, the Court disagrees with
Plaintiff, and GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Summary
initially filed this action on December 5, 2017, in King
County Superior Court. Dkt. #1-1. Plaintiff alleges that on
June 2, 2017, he appeared for arraignment on a bench warrant
that had been issued for a prior failure to appear. Dkt. #1-1
at ¶ 1.4. He was released, and returned to court on June
5, 2017, where he reported to SeaTac Municipal Court
Probation Officer Jeanette Fischer. Dkt. #1-1 at ¶
¶ 1.5, 1.6, 4.5 and 4.6. Ms. Fischer apparently told him
the warrant had been executed because she was unable to
locate his current address. Id.
also alleges that on November 20, 2017, Defendant Breiner
informed him that she had changed his address to a Post
Office Box in Seattle, WA, but did not know why she had done
it. Id. at ¶ 4.7. Plaintiff alleges that this
caused the Notice to Appear to be sent to the wrong address,
and therefore resulted in the warrant for his arrest.
Id. He asserts that Ms. Breiner's actions
violated his Due Process rights. Id. at ¶ 4.8.
evidentiary record in this case reveals the following.
Defendant Breiner is a probation officer for the Tukwila
Municipal Court, and has been employed in that capacity since
2000. Dkt. #29 at ¶ 2. In March 2012, the City of
Tukwila entered into an agreement with the City of SeaTac to
provide municipal court probation services for them. That
agreement existed until December 31, 2016. Dkt. #29 at ¶
2. Although Defendant Breiner's title is Probation
Officer, she performs many of the functions of a Court Clerk.
Id. at ¶ 3. For example, she works extensively
with the Municipal Court's database for docketing and
entering other court related information. Id. The
court uses the statewide courts database administered by the
Office of the Administrator of the Courts, known as the
Judicial Information System (“JIS”). Id.
Defendant Breiner has the same permissions as the court
clerk, except that she does not enter information related to
finances (e.g., fines and payments). Id.
Breiner acknowledges that, after his May 2017 arrest,
Plaintiff told her that a Summons had been sent to a Post
Office Box that was not his. Id. at ¶ 6. As a
result, she later researched his claim in the JIS database
and reviewed Plaintiff's address history. Id.
The JIS database indicates that on February 2, 2016,
Plaintiff's address was changed to a Post Office Box in
Seattle, WA, with her initials next to the change.
Id. Defendant Breiner also learned that in late
January 2017, she received a returned envelope addressed to
Plaintiff from the post office, with a notation of a bad
address. Id. at ¶ 8. As a result, she updated
Mr. Bell's address in JIS, according to the USPS label on
the returned mail. Id. The JIS Address History
report indicated that she made the change on February 2,
2017, and that someone other than Plaintiff had reported the
change of address. Id. Defendant Breiner was also
able to determine that the entry was coded as “Status
Change Only” and that the reason given for changing the
previous address was coded as “Notified by
Other.” Id. at ¶ ¶ 9 and 10 and Exs.
A and B thereto. This was not unusual to Defendant Breiner
as, in the past ten years, Plaintiff has used 17 different
addresses. Id. at ¶ 11. Further, on six
separate occasions in that same timeframe, the Court was
unable to deliver mail to Plaintiff. Id.
February 28, 2017, a Summons to appear at a March 16, 2017,
Review Hearing was issued to Plaintiff, and addressed to the
Post Office Box address. Dkt. #29 at ¶ 19, Ex. C at
SEATAC 000101. Plaintiff did not appear and a Bench Warrant
was issued for “Failure to Appear at Hearing”.
Id. at SEATAC 00095 and 100. On May 18, 2017,
Probation Officer Fischer advised the court that “Mr.
Bell has not made himself available for probation. It is
requested that probation is terminated at this time and a
bench warrant issued for his arrest.” Id. at
¶ 20, Ex. C at SEATAC 00085. On June 2, 2017, Plaintiff
appeared in Court on the charge of failing to have an
interlock devise installed on his car as required by his
Judgment and Sentence. Id. at ¶ 21, Ex. C at
SEATAC 00086. He was released on his personal recognizance in
order to present documentary proof that the device was
properly installed. Id.
subsequently brought this lawsuit. Defendants removed this
action to this Court on January 3, 2018. Dkt. #1. Plaintiff
filed a motion for remand, which was denied. Dkts. #10 and
#18. On May 11, 2018, this Court granted Defendant's
SCORE Jail's motion for summary judgment and dismissed
SCORE from the action. Dkt. #28. The instant motion followed.
Legal Standard on Summary Judgment
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). 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
Federal Deposit Ins. Corp. v. O'Melveny &
Meyers, 969 F.2d 744, 747 (9th Cir. 1992)). Material
facts are those which might affect the outcome of the suit
under governing law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
Court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
non-moving party. See O'Melveny & Meyers,
969 F.2d at 747, rev'd on other grounds, 512
U.S. 79 (1994). However, the nonmoving party must make a
“sufficient showing on an 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). Further, “[t]he mere
existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the
plaintiff's position will ...