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Estate of Lovelett v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

July 26, 2018

THE ESTATE OF JOLENE LOVELETT, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS, DECLINING SUPPLEMENTAL JURISDICITON, AND DISMISSING REMAINING CLAIMS WITHOUT PREJUDICE

          BENJAMIN H. SETTLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant United States of America's ("Government") motion to dismiss (Dkt. 172). 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.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On November 1, 2016, the Estate of Jolene Lovelett ("the Estate") filed a complaint against multiple defendants, including individual Defendants Nancy Dufraine, Heather Hoyle, Kelsie Moen, RN, and Trisha Shipp, LPN ("Defendants"). Dkt. 1. The Estate asserts claims for violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; violations of Washington's Abuse of Vulnerable Adults Act ("VAS"), 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.

         On March 3, 2017, the Government filed a notice of substitution giving notice that the Government would be substituting as defendants for all "common law tort[s]" asserted against Defendants. Dkt. 39. On May 1, 2017, the Court granted the Government's motion to dismiss. Dkt. 54.

         On March 15, 2018, Defendants filed a joint motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 93. On March 22, 2018, the Estate filed a motion for partial summary judgment. Dkt. 106.

         On May 14, 2018, the Court granted the parties' motion to dismiss the Tribe. Dkt. 152.

         On June 11, 2018, the Court granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment and dismissed the Estate's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims. Dkt. 162. The Court also requested responses on the issue of exercising supplemental jurisdiction because it appeared that all the federal claims had been dismissed. Id. at 10. The remaining parties responded. Dkts. 166, 168.

         On June 19, 2018, the Court requested a response from the Government explaining why the Government substituted itself for some state law claims, but not all the state law claims. Dkt. 169. On June 22, 2018, the Government responded. Dkt. 170. The Government also filed a new notice of substitution and motion to dismiss. Dkts. 171, 172. On June 29, 2018, the Estate responded to the motion to dismiss. Dkt. 173. On July 20, 2018, the Government replied. Dkt. 174.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The relevant facts are set forth in the Court's previous order, Dkt. 162, and the Estate's motion for partial summary judgment, Dkt. 106. The Court finds no need to repeat those facts in this order.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Motion to Dismiss

         The United States of America is subject to suit only to the extent that it has waived its sovereign immunity. United States v. Orleans,425 U.S. 807, 813-814 (1976). Because "[s]overeign immunity is jurisdictional in nature ... the terms of the United States' consent to be sued in any court define that court's jurisdiction to entertain the suit." FDIC v. Meyer,510 U.S. 471, 475 (1994) (internal citations omitted). The Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA") waives sovereign immunity for certain tort suits against the United States for injuries caused by federal employees under circumstances where a private person would be held liable, "in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred." 28 U.S.C. ยงยง 2674, 2679(b)(1) and 1346(b). The ...


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