United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant State of
Washington, Department of Social and Health Services,
Division of Child Support's (“DCS”) motion
for summary judgment (Dkt. 11). 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
for the reasons stated herein.
February 7, 2018, Plaintiff Adrian Boyce
(“Boyce”) filed a complaint against DCS alleging
that DCS garnished his wages without due process. Dkt. 3.
18, 2018, DCS filed a motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 11.
On June 12, 2018, Boyce responded. Dkt. 14. On June 15, 2018,
DCS replied. Dkt. 15.
is the father of an eleven-year-old child. Dkt. 12,
Declaration of Jerry Weible (“Weible Decl.”), Ex.
1 at 1. DCS is providing support enforcement services on
behalf of his child. Id. ¶¶ 1, 2. Because
there was no superior court order requiring Boyce to pay
child support, DCS took action to set it administratively.
Id. ¶ 3. On May 3, 2016, DCS personally served
Boyce with a Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility
(“Notice”). Id., Ex. 1. The Notice set
Boyce's child support obligation at $311 per month
beginning March 1, 2016. Id. In addition, the Notice
required Boyce to pay back child support of $1, 324.24 to
satisfy his obligation from October 25, 2015 through February
29, 2016. Id.
Notice informed Boyce that he had 20 days to request an
adjudicative proceeding, which could have been requested by
phone or by filling out and returning the provided hearing
request form. Id. Because Boyce neither objected to
the Notice nor timely requested an adjudicative hearing, the
Notice became a final child support order. Id.
¶ 4. See also RCW 74.20A.055(4). The Notice
expressly authorizes DCS to garnish wages, and take other
collection action without further notice, as authorized by
Washington law and mandated by federal child support program
requirements. Weible Decl., Ex. 1, at 4, 6; RCW 26.23.060; 42
U.S.C. § 666 (a)(8). DCS collected its first payment in
December 2017, and has been collecting child support
regularly since that date. Weible Decl., ¶ 6.
moves for summary judgment on the basis that neither the
State nor its official are persons subject to suit under
§ 1983 and Boyce's claims are barred by res judicata
and/or collateral estoppel. Dkt. 11. Although the latter
argument is interesting, the Court will only address the
straightforward argument that the State is not subject to
suit under § 1983.
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is proper only if the pleadings, the discovery and
disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that
there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law when the nonmoving party fails to make a
sufficient showing on an essential element of a claim in the
case on which the nonmoving party has the burden of proof.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
There is no genuine issue of fact for trial where the record,
taken as a whole, could not lead a rational trier of fact to
find for the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)
(nonmoving party must present specific, significant probative
evidence, not simply “some metaphysical doubt”).
See also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). Conversely, a
genuine dispute over a material fact exists if there is
sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute,
requiring a judge or jury to resolve the differing versions
of the truth. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 253 (1986); T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac.
Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir.
determination of the existence of a material fact is often a
close question. The Court must consider the substantive
evidentiary burden that the nonmoving party must meet at
trial - e.g., a preponderance of the evidence in most civil
cases. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 254; T.W. Elec.
Serv., Inc., 809 F.2d at 630. The Court must resolve any
factual issues of controversy in favor of the nonmoving party
only when the facts specifically attested by that party
contradict facts specifically attested by the moving party.
The nonmoving party may not merely state that it will
discredit the moving party's evidence at trial, in the
hopes that evidence can be developed at trial to support the
claim. T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc., 809 F.2d at 630
(relying on Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). Conclusory,
nonspecific statements in affidavits are not sufficient, and
missing facts will not be presumed. Lujan v. Nat'l
Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888-89 (1990).