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Clasablanca v. Kitsap County

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

June 3, 2019




         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Kitsap County's (“Kitsap County”) motion to dismiss, Dkt. 15, and Kitsap County and Conmed, LLC's (“Conmed”) (collectively “Defendants”) joint motion to dismiss, Dkt. 17. The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motions and the remainder of the file and hereby grants the motions for the reasons stated herein.


         On September 27, 2018, Plaintiff Rickey Clasablanca (“Clasablanca”) filed a tort claim with the Kitsap County Clerk of the Board of Commissioners alleging negligence and deliberate indifference. Dkt. 14, ¶ 1.1-1.3. On November 28, 2018, Clasablanca filed a complaint against the Kitsap County Sheriffs Department (“Sheriffs Department”), Kitsap County, and Conmed in the Kitsap County Superior Court for the State of Washington. Dkt. 1-1. On January 22, 2019, Kitsap County and the Sheriffs Department filed a notice of removal in this Court. Dkt. 1. On January 29, 2019, Kitsap County and the Sheriffs Department filed a motion to dismiss. Dkt. 9. On February 19, 2019, the parties stipulated that Casablanca would amend the complaint and remove the Sheriffs Department as a defendant and Kitsap County and the Sheriffs Department would withdraw their motion to dismiss. Dkt. 12.

         On March 14, 2019, Clasablanca filed his amended complaint. Dkt. 14. On March 28, 2019, Kitsap County filed a motion to dismiss. Dkt. 15. Also on March 28, 2019, Defendants filed a joint motion to dismiss. Dkt. 17. On April 7, 2019, Casablanca responded to Kitsap County's motion to dismiss, Dkt. 19, and responded to Defendants' joint motion to dismiss, Dkt. 21. On April 19, 2019, Defendants replied to Casablanca's response to their motion, Dkt. 26, and Kitsap County replied to Clasablanca's response to its motion, Dkt. 27.


         Clasablanca was incarcerated in the Kitsap County Jail from February 12, 2016, to July 28, 2016. Dkt. 14, ¶ 2.2. Clasablanca worked in the jail's kitchen. Id. ¶ 2.3. On March 14, 2016, Clasablanca walked by an electrical outlet in the kitchen and was shocked by electricity. Id. ¶ 2.10. He was “startled by a sudden explosion and shower of sparks from the hazardous outlet” and sustained a burn to his leg. Id. ¶¶ 2.10-2.11. Recoiling from the injury, Clasablanca suffered a severe injury to his lower back. Id. ¶ 2.11.

         Kitsap County was notified that Clasablanca was injured, “but chose not to send medical personnel to examine and evaluate [Clasablanca's] injuries.” Id. ¶ 2.12. Through Clasablanca's release date, his back injury was neither diagnosed nor treated. Id. ¶2.17. During this period, Clasablana alleges that Conmed and Kitsap County “engaged in, cooperated in, and displayed deliberate indifference to [Clasablanca's] injuries and not only denied him adequate diagnosis and medical care, but engaged in concerted efforts to create a false justification for refusing to diagnose and treat his severe back injury” and that Conmed's employees “intentionally [took] actions designed to ensure that [Clasablanca] would be denied diagnostic and medical care regarding his back injury.” Id. ¶¶ 2.18, 5.4(c).


         Casablanca's amended complaint alleges claims for premises liability, negligence, and deliberate indifference against Kitsap County and for “professional/medical negligence” against Conmed. Dkt. 14. Kitsap County moves to dismiss Clasablanca's claim for negligence and premises liability. Dkt. 15. Conmed and Kitsap County move jointly to dismiss “all claims arising out of medical care.” Dkt. 16.

         A. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) Standard

         Motions to dismiss brought under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure may be based on either the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under such a theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Department, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). Material allegations are taken as admitted and the complaint is construed in the plaintiff's favor. Keniston v. Roberts, 717 F.2d 1295, 1301 (9th Cir. 1983). Despite this, courts “are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint does not require detailed factual allegations but must provide the grounds for entitlement to relief and not merely a “formulaic recitation” of the elements of a cause of action. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Plaintiffs must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. “[A] court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

         B. Evidence Outside the Complaint

         As a threshold matter, the Court must address Clasablanca's argument that “the Court should consider the statutory disclosures made prior to suit and take a dim view of a 12(b)(6) motion in which the Defendant pleads ignorance of the basis for the allegations against it based on the complaint alone.” Dkt. 19 at 9. Washington State requires that individuals asserting a tort claim against government defendants submit the claim for review 60 days before filing their case in court. RCW 4.96.010, .020. The required “Standard Tort Claim” form involves substantial disclosure of information supporting the claim, such as police reports and medical records. See RCW 4.92.100; Dkt. 22-3 at 2. Clasablanca argues that because he complied with this requirement prior to filing his case, Defendants have “received a veritable cornucopia of evidence” and should fully understand the case against them. Dkt. 19 at 9; see also Dkt. 21 at 13-16. In support of his response briefs, ...

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