United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
AND QUALIFIED IMMUNITY
J. BRYAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment and Qualified Immunity. Dkt. 27. The Court
has considered the pleadings filed regarding the motion and
the remainder of the record herein.
4, 2018, Plaintiff Justin Fregosi filed this case and moved
to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”). Dkt. 1 and
1-1. His IFP application was granted. Dkt. 3. On August 14,
2018, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint and asserts, in
part, that the Defendants violated his due process rights
when Christie Dotson and Jamie Young, both Department of
Health and Human Services (“DSHS”) social
workers, testified and/or filed pleadings in state court that
Plaintiff had a prior felony child abuse conviction which
resulted in his children being placed in foster care. Dkt.
13. Plaintiff claims that he had no such conviction, and
while one of his children was in foster care, the child was
16, 2019, the Defendants filed the motion for summary
judgment, seeking dismissal of the case. Dkt. 27.
Plaintiff's motion to continue was granted and the motion
for summary judgment was renoted for June 14, 2019. Dkt. 37.
The motion is now ripe. For the reasons provided below, the
Defendants' summary judgment motion (Dkt. 27) should be
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
PLAINTIFF FREGOSI'S CONTACT WITH WYOMING LAW ENFORCEMENT
AND WYOMING CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES
20, 2011, Fregosi was charged by information, in Carbon
County, Wyoming District Court, with felony child abuse,
misdemeanor battery on a household member, misdemeanor false
imprisonment, and misdemeanor child endangerment under the
Wyoming criminal codes. Dkt. 29, at 32-33. According to the
supporting affidavit of Rawlins Police Detective Dale Miller,
Fregosi's then wife reported that he had been abusive
with her and her child, A.J. (Fregosi's 18-month-old
stepson). Id., at 34-37. As it related to A.J., she
reported that Fregosi “picked A.J. up by the left
arm/shoulder and threw him on a mattress that was laid on a
hardwood floor. . . He then picked up A.J. in the same manner
and threw him on the bed.” Id., at 35. His
wife asserted that she “was very scared for A.J.'s
safety” and that it “was an ongoing issue.”
Id. She maintained that Fregosi threatened to kidnap
A.J. and take him to California. Id. The officers
observed bruising on A.J.'s upper body. Id. In
his affidavit, Detective Miller noted that Fregosi had two
additional convictions for battery on a household member.
Id., at 44. On July 25, 2011, the information was
amended to change the misdemeanor charge of battery of a
household member to a felony. Id., at 39-40.
entering into a plea deal with the state, the charges were
reduced to misdemeanor reckless endangerment; Fregosi pled no
contest to the charge, and on March 7, 2012, he was sentenced
to 180 days of confinement, with credit for time served. Dkt.
29, at 46-70.
23, 2015, Fregosi's parental rights to his child, R.C.F.
(born in 2006), were terminated by order of the Carbon
County, Wyoming, District Court. Dkt. 29, at 28-30.
PLAINTIFF FREGOSI CONTACTS WASHINGTON CPS REGARDING HIS
CHILDREN C.F. AND M.F. AND THEIR EVENTUAL
August 13, 2017, a Washington CPS intake referral was
received from Fregosi “alleging that A.B., the mother
of his children, C.F. (born 2016) and M.F. (born 2017), had
mental health issues and had threatened to harm herself,
” including by driving her car into a wall. Dkts. 32,
at 2 and 31, at 24. A DSHS Family Assessment Response social
worker, and Defendant here, Jamie Young, was assigned to
handle the report. Id.
Young investigated, including having conversations with
Fregosi, A.B., the children's mother, and the
children's maternal grandmother, who also lived in the
home. Dkt. 32, at 2-3. Defendant Young states that she
discussed concerns about the mother's untreated mental
health issues, allegations of abuse between Fregosi and the
children's mother, and offered various in-home services.
Id., at 2. Defendant Young referred the family to
another division of DSHS to obtain a mental health assessment
and put a parenting plan in place. Id.
September 12, 2017, Defendant Young met with the
children's maternal grandmother. Id. Based on
information from that meeting, Defendant Young contacted
Wyoming Child Protective Services social worker Lisa Hardy,
that same day. Id. Defendant Young states that she
recorded the details of the conversation in her case notes
(Dkt. 32, at 3); The relevant case note provides:
This SW contacted Lisa Hardy SW out of Wyoming who stated
that Justin has a long history with CPS. She stated that he
had his parental rights of his son R. terminated 02/2016. She
also stated that she felt Justin was scary as he intimidated
her with hate mail throughout the process even though she was
unable to make contact with him on a regular basis. He
defaulted on the termination and did not fight the petition.
She states that he has a history with an 18-month-old that
was not biologically his, that he picked the child up by the
arms and threw him to the ground at least two times. Lisa
states he went to prison for the offense.
Dkt. 32, at 15.
Young states that, “[d]ue to her concerns for the
children's safety, [she] consulted with [her] superiors .
. . and a decision was made to proceed with the filing of a
dependency petition.” Dkt. 32, at 3. Defendant Young
sent records requests regarding Fregosi to Wyoming's CPS
and the Rawlins, Wyoming police department. Id.
the substantiating information arrived, on September 13,
2017, Washington DSHS court services social worker, and
Defendant here, Christie Dotson, prepared two separate
dependency petitions for both Fregosi's children, C.F.
(born 2016) and M.F. (born 2017). Dkt. 31, at 2. Defendant
Dotson states that she reviewed all Defendant Young's
case notes, including the case note relating to information
about Fregosi received from the social worker in Wyoming.
Id. She included that information in the Dependency
Petitions under the heading of “Allegations” (of
which there are 18), as follows:
17. On 09/12/2017, the FAR social worker spoke with a social
worker in Wyoming who stated that Mr. Fregosi has a long
history with CPS. The Wyoming social worker reported that Mr.
Fregosi had his parental rights terminated to an older son in
February of 2016. The social worker further stated that Mr.
Fregosi was scary and he intimidated her with hate mail
throughout the case, though she was unable to maintain
contact with him on a regular basis. The social worker
additionally stated that Mr. Fregosi had history with an
18-month-old child that was not biologically his. Mr. Fregosi
picked the child up by the arms and threw him to the ground
at least two times. Mr. Fregosi went to prison for the
Dkt. 31, at 11 and 41.
October 2017 meeting between CPS, Fregosi, his lawyer and
others, his lawyer informed the department that he “did
not believe that [Fregosi] had been convicted of felony child
abuse.” Dkt. 33, at 12.
November 28, 2017, Kitsap County, Washington Superior Court,
Juvenile Division, held a dependency fact-finding hearing
which concluded on December 4, 2017. Dkt. 30, at 1-2. Fregosi
was represented by counsel. Id., at 6. On December
8, 2017, the court found that the children were dependent
pursuant to RCW 13.34.030. Dkt. 30, at 6-15. In its'
findings of fact, the court did not include any discussion of
allegations that Fregosi had been incarcerated in Wyoming for
child abuse. Dkt. 30, at 7-8. The court's decision found
that the following facts established dependency were proven
by a preponderance of the evidence:
(1) In analyzing the relevant law applicable to a finding of
dependency, the court discussed In re Dependency of
Schermer, 161 Wn.2d 927, 169 P.3d 452 (2007) at length .
(2) The two children involved in this action are 16 months
old and 4 months old. They are completely dependent upon
other for their care, and are especially vulnerable due to
(3) The court finds the State's witnesses in this matter
(4) The court finds that the parents' testimony minimized
the extent of domestic violence in their relationship. The
testimony at trial supports the court's finding that