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Shipp v. San Juan County

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

April 9, 2019

SAN JUAN COUNTY, a municipal corporation, Defendant.


          The Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge.


         The matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 37(d). Dkt. # 20. For the reasons below, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and DENIES Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.


         In March 2017, Plaintiff Ian Shipp came to stay with Roger Parks after Shipp was evicted from his own residence. Dkt. # 20; Dkt. # 22-1 at 8. At some point prior, the two became acquainted with each other while living in the same Seattle neighborhood. Id. Parks eventually moved to San Juan Island where he was renting an apartment in the town of Friday Harbor. Id. After accepting Parks's invitation to stay with him, Plaintiff arrived with nothing but a backpack, a change of clothes, and a guitar. Id. He was not added to the lease. Id. at 9. After roughly four months, Parks broke his legs in a motorcycle accident and began staying at a different residence with his girlfriend. Id. at 8. During that time, Plaintiff remained at the Friday Harbor apartment. Id. at 8-9.

         Between March and October 2017, the relationship between the two disintegrated to the point where Parks did not feel safe around Plaintiff. Id. at 9. In October 2017, Parks received notice that he was being evicted from the Friday Harbor apartment. Id. at 10. Given his deteriorating relationship with Plaintiff, Parks requested a civil standby from the San Juan County Sherriff's Department (the “Sherriff's Department”) to keep the peace while he gathered his belongings. Id.

         The move out took place on October 12, 2017. Id. Two San Juan County officers, Sherriff Ron Krebs and Deputy Eric Peter, conducted the civil standby and Parks had several friends and co-workers assist him with the move. Dkt. # 21-1 at 9, 20; Dkt. # 22-1 at 8-27. While he did not object to the officers' presence in the apartment, Plaintiff did complain that Parks was taking property that did not rightfully belong to him. Dkt. # 21-1 at 22. Specifically, Plaintiff claimed that Parks left the Friday Harbor apartment for longer than 45 days so his belongings were considered abandoned and now Plaintiff's property. Id. at 10. Sherriff Krebs informed Plaintiff that he would have to seek judicial relief for such a claim. Id. After roughly half an hour, almost all of Parks's property had been retrieved. Id. at 26. Plaintiff gave the officers some ammunition belonging to Parks that had been missed in the collection, at which point Parks and the officers left. Id. at 13, 25. Plaintiff remained in the apartment after Parks move out until he was formally evicted the following month. Id. at 2, 13.

         On October 13, 2017, Plaintiff sent an email to the Sherriff's Department stating that he had been mistreated during the civil standby. Dkt. # 22-1 at 2-4. He claimed that the officers forced their way in, that some of his personal property was stolen, that he was threatened with arrest. Id. The Sherriff's Department forwarded Plaintiff's complaint to San Juan County Detective Lach Buchanan, who then contacted the seven witnesses present during the civil standby, including the landlord. Id. at 6. None of the witnesses corroborated the claims made by Plaintiff. Id. at 8-27.

         On March 26, 2018, Plaintiff brought an action against San Juan County (the “County”) alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, negligence, intentional infliction of emotion distress, conversion, and trespass. Dkt. # 1. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on April 3, 2018. Dkt. # 10. According to the County, Plaintiff has refused to participate in the discovery process. Defense counsel last communicated with Plaintiff on December 28, 2018 to request a conference after Plaintiff failed to attend his deposition or provide any written discovery responses. Dkt. # 21, ¶¶ 12-21; id., Ex. 18. Plaintiff responded with a profanity-laced tirade directed at his former counsel and others involved with the action. Id., Ex. 9.


         Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Where the moving party will have the burden of proof at trial, it must affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party. Soremekun v. Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir. 2007). On an issue where the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party can prevail merely by pointing out to the district court that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 325. If the moving party meets the initial burden, the opposing party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of fact for trial in order to defeat the motion. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). The court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., 530 U.S. 133, 150-51 (2000).

         However, the court need not, and will not, “scour the record in search of a genuine issue of triable fact.” Keenan v. Allan, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996); see also White v. McDonnel-Douglas Corp., 904 F.2d 456, 458 (8th Cir. 1990) (the court need not “speculate on which portion of the record the nonmoving party relies, nor is it obliged to wade through and search the entire record for some specific facts that might support the nonmoving party's claim”). The opposing party must present significant and probative evidence to support its claim or defense. Intel Corp. v. Hartford Accident & Indem. Co., 952 F.2d 1551, 1558 (9th Cir. 1991). Uncorroborated allegations and “self-serving testimony” will not create a genuine issue of material fact. Villiarimo v. Aloha Island Air, Inc., 281 F.3d 1054, 1061 (9th Cir. 2002); T.W. Elec. Serv. V. Pac Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987). Because Plaintiff failed to file an opposition to Defendant's motion, the Court accepts unchallenged statements of fact from the Defendant in their entirety. See Monet v. Chase Home Fin. LLC, No. 10-CV-00135-LHK, 2011 WL 3740817, at *7 (N.D. Cal. Aug.23, 2011) (noting that, “[i]the absence of an opposition, Rule 56 permits the Court to consider all facts raised by the moving party as undisputed for purposes of the summary judgment motion”).


         A. Dismissal as a Discovery ...

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