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Dalessio v. University of Washington

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

June 7, 2019



          Marsha J. Pechman United States Senior District Judge

         The above-entitled Court, having received and reviewed:

1. Defendants' Second Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 161),
2. Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Second Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 162),
3. Defendants' Reply in Support of Second Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No.163),
4. Plaintiff's Objection to New Evidence (Dkt. No. 165) and Defendants' Response to Plaintiff's Objection (Dkt. No. 166), all attached declarations and exhibits, and relevant portions of the record, rules as follows:

         IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's Objection to New Evidence is DENIED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED; the remainder of Plaintiff's claims are DISMISSED with prejudice.


          The following are undisputed facts: Plaintiff was employed by the University of Washington (“UW”) as a Clinical Technologist in the Department of Laboratory Medicine from 1987 until her resignation in 2003. On September 16, 2015, UW's Office of Public Records (“OPR”) received a records request from David Betz under the Public Records Act (RCW 42.56; “PRA”) for “all records maintained by the University of Washington relating or pertaining to Julie Dalessio.” (Dkt. No. 82 at 5, ¶ 29.) In response, Defendant and OPR Compliance Analyst Alison Swenson released two installments of redacted records to Betz. UW released a total of 370 pages of documents to Betz; although there were many redactions, Plaintiff's Social Security number (“SSN”) was not redacted from two of the pages; there were also instances of unredacted addresses, telephone numbers and birthdates. Additionally, there was information in the documents which Plaintiff alleges was personal medical information protected under the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). (Dkt. Nos. 30-1, 30-2.)

         Following Betz's request, Plaintiff submitted her own PRA request to UW for the information which was released to Betz. (Id. at ¶ 33.) On April 16, 2016, upon receipt of the documents released to Betz under the PRA, Plaintiff became aware that of the unredacted information of which she now complains.

         On November 9, 2016, Plaintiff submitted a second PRA request for “a digital copy of my departmental personnel file, along with any other computer or paper files that might contain records of inquiries concerning my employment at the uw [sic], since my resignation in January 2003.” (Dkt. No. 29, Decl. of Palmer, Ex. A.) Those documents were provided (to Plaintiff only) in two installments on January 26 and February 15, 2017. (Id. at 3-4.)

         Additionally, Plaintiff requested and received, pursuant to the PRA, documents regarding other UW employees which she claims also contain confidential health information. Dkt. No. 37, Exs. 5-7.

         Plaintiff's amended complaint, filed by her appointed counsel, originally named as defendants: the University of Washington; Alison Swenson, OPR Compliance Analyst; Eliza Saunders, Director of UW Office of Public Records; Perry Tapper, UW Public Records Compliance Officer; Andrew Palmer, OPR Compliance Analyst; and Does 1 - 12 (unnamed officials in various UW departments). (Dkt. No. 82, ¶¶ 98-203.) Plaintiff claimed violations of her federal constitutional rights (§ 1983), breach of contract, and liability under the “common law tort” of public disclosure of private facts. In addition to economic, compensatory, and punitive damages, she also sought declaratory, equitable, and injunctive relief, as well as attorney's fees and costs. (Id. at ¶¶ 98-203, et seq.)

         In October of 2018, Defendants filed their first motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 119.) The Court partially granted and partially denied that motion, dismissing (1) all the “Doe Defendants” and UW; (2) Plaintiff's claims for breach of contract, along with her request for declaratory and injunctive relief; and (3) the portion of Plaintiff's § 1983 and state law claims related to disclosure of her “personal information” (SSN, address, birthdate, etc.). See Dkt. No. 153, Order on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. In an order addressing both sides' requests for reconsideration/clarification, the Court suspended the case schedule in order to permit Defendants to file the instant motion, a second motion for summary judgment addressing the issues remaining in the case. (Dkt. No. 160, at 8-9.)


          I. Standard of review

          “The court shall grant summary judgment if 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). 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 (1985).

         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 non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (non-moving party must present specific, significant probative evidence, not simply “some metaphysical doubt.”); 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. Service Inc. v. Pacific Electrical Contractors Association, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).

         The Court turns first to Plaintiff's “Objection to New Evidence in Defendants' Reply to Second Motion for Summary Judgment.” (Dkt. No. 165.)

         II. Motion to strike

         Attached as Exhibit A to Defendants' reply brief were excerpts from discovery responses from the UW and Defendant Swenson, along with transmittal letters confirming that what Defendants Palmer and Swenson had requested during their document search concerning Plaintiff were “employment records” not “personal patient medical records.” (Dkt. No. 164, Decl. of Freeman, Ex. A) The evidence was produced to rebut Plaintiff's assertion in her ...

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