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Bell v. Fischer

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

July 30, 2018

WARREN E. BELL, Plaintiff,
JEANETTE FISCHER, et al., Defendants.




         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant City of SeaTac's and Jeannette Fischer's Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. #39. Defendants seek dismissal of Plaintiff's claims against them, asserting that Plaintiff fails to provide factual evidence to support his claims, and that Defendant Fischer committed no due process violation and she is entitled to quasi-judicial and qualified immunity. Id. Plaintiff essentially responds that there are material factual disputes precluding summary judgment. Dkt. #42.[1] For the reasons set forth below, the Court disagrees with Plaintiff, and GRANTS Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.

         II. BACKGROUND [2]

         Plaintiff 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.

         The evidentiary record in this case reveals the following. Defendant Fischer is a probation officer for the City of SeaTac. Dkt. #41 at ¶ 1. On February 28, 2017, a Summons to appear at a March 16, 2017, Review Hearing was issued to Plaintiff, and addressed to Post Office Box 9**49, Seattle, WA. 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. Ms. Fischer states that she had no involvement in scheduling the March 16th review hearing, nor did she have any involvement in preparing the summons/subpoena or bench warrant. Dkt. #41 at ¶ ¶ 4 and 5.[3]

         On June 2, 2017, Plaintiff appeared in Court on the charge of failing to have an interlock device 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.

         On June 5, 2017, Plaintiff reported to Ms. Fischer's office and provided her with the documentation requested by the Court during his June 2, 2017, hearing. Dkt. #41 at ¶ 6. Plaintiff questioned her about the address the Court had on record for him. Id. at ¶ 7. She showed Plaintiff the address on file with the Court, which was PO BOX 9**49, Seattle, WA. Id. Defendant Fischer had no involvement in entering or changing Plaintiff's address with the court. Id. at ¶ 3.

         Plaintiff 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. This Court has since granted Defendants SCORE Jail's and Mindy Breiner's motions for summary judgment, dismissing those Defendants from the action. Dkts. #28 and #37.


         A. Legal Standard on Summary Judgment

         Summary 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.

         The 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 be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251.

         B. Plaintiff's Claims ...

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