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Shavlik v. Snohomish County Superior Court

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

June 26, 2019

LORI D. SHAVLIK, Plaintiff,




         On December 21, 2018, the court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss all of Plaintiff Lori D. Shavlik's claims, except for her claim under Washington State's Public Records Act (“PRA”), RCW ch. 42.56. (12/21/18 Order (Dkt. # 21); see also Compl. (Dkt. # 6-1).) The court remanded Ms. Shavlik's PRA claim to state court. (Id. at 34-35.) The court further granted Ms. Shavlik leave to amend certain of her claims within 15 days of the date of that order. (Id. at 34.) On January 8, 2019, Ms. Shavlik filed an amended complaint. (FAC (Dkt. # 24).)

         Before the court is Defendants Snohomish County, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney (“DPA”) Andrew E. Alsdorf, Detective David Fontenot, DPA Craig S. Matheson, [1] Mark Roe, Philip G. Sayles and the Sayles Law Firm, PLLC's (“the Sayles Law Firm”) (collectively, “Defendants”) Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss Ms. Shavlik's amended complaint. (2d MTD (Dkt. # 27).) The court has considered the motion, the parties' submissions in support of and in opposition to the motion, [2] relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully advised, [3] the court GRANTS Defendants' motion and DISMISSES Ms. Shavlik's amended complaint with prejudice and without leave to amend.


         The court's dismissal order sets forth the factual background allegedly underpinning Ms. Shavlik's claims and provides a detailed summary of Ms. Shavlik's attendance at the criminal trial of John Reed (“the Reed trial”) in May 2018, and the show-cause order Judge Bruce Weiss issued to determine if Ms. Shavlik violated his order on filming during the Reed trial.[4] (12/21/18 Order at 2-7.) The court will not repeat that background here but describes only the differences between Ms. Shavlik's original and amended complaints that are pertinent to Defendants' motion to dismiss and this order.

         In her original complaint, Ms. Shavlik sued Snohomish County Superior Court, Snohomish County, Judge Weiss, DPA Alsdorf, DPA Matheson, Mr. Sayles, and the Sayles Law Firm. (Compl. ¶¶ 2.2-2.4, 2.6.) In her amended complaint, she dropped Snohomish County Superior Court and Judge Weiss as defendants. (See generally FAC.) However, she added Mr. Roe, who was formerly the Prosecuting Attorney for Snohomish County, and Detective Fontenot of the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office. (FAC ¶¶ 1.3-1.4, 2.4-2.5.)

         The court dismissed the following claims without leave to amend: (1) claims for injunctive and declaratory relief against Judge Weiss (12/21/18 Order at 16-21); (2) a claim for state law writs of prohibition and certiorari (id. at 25); (3) a state law claim under Article I, Section 7 of the Washington State Constitution (id. at 25-26); (4) a state law claim under Washington State Court General Rule 16 (id. at 26-27); (5) a state law claim under RCW 5.68.010 (id. at 27-28); and (6) a state law claim for barratry (id. at 28-29).

         The court granted Ms. Shavlik leave to amend the following claims: (1) federal constitutional claims against Snohomish County and Mr. Sayles; (2) First Amendment claim against Mr. Alsdorf and Mr. Matheson; (3) abuse of process claims against Mr. Sayles and the Sayles Law Firm; (4) a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress against Mr. Sayles; (5) a claim for violation of the common law right to privacy against Mr. Sayles; and (6) a claim for unfair competition under Washington State's Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”), RCW 19.86.010, et seq., against Mr. Sayles. (See 12/21/18 Order at 32.)

         In her amended complaint, Ms. Shavlik expressly delineates four causes of action. (FAC at 15-16.) In her first cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which she brings against all Defendants, she alleges that Defendants denied “her civil rights including but not limited to her right to free speech under the first amendment and denial of due process under the [Fourteenth Amendment].” (FAC at 15.) Ms. Shavlik brings her remaining three state law causes of action against all Defendants “except the prosecutors, ” presumably referring to DPA Alsdorf and DPA Matheson. (Id. at 15-16.) As she describes them, her state law claims include: (1) abuse of process, (2) intentional infliction of emotional distress, (3) deceptive trade violations, and (4) common law right to privacy. (Id.)

         The court now considers Defendants' motion to dismiss Ms. Shavlik's amended complaint.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Standard

         Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The purpose of this rule is to “‘give the defendant fair notice of what . . . the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). “A motion under [Rule] 12(b)(6) tests the formal sufficiency of the statement of claim for relief.” Palms v. Austin, C18-0838JLR, 2018 WL 4258171, at *4 (W.D. Wash. Sept. 6, 2018) (quoting Fednav Ltd. v. Sterling Int'l, 572 F.Supp. 1268, 1270 (N.D. Cal. 1983)).

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. This standard is “not akin to a ‘probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court construes the complaint in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, Livid Holdings Ltd. v. Salomon Smith Barney, Inc., 416 F.3d 940, 946 (9th Cir. 2005), and must accept all well-pleaded allegations of material fact as true, see Wyler Summit P'ship v. Turner Broad. Sys., 135 F.3d 658, 661 (9th Cir. 1998). However, the court need not accept as true a legal conclusion presented as a factual allegation. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 550).

         Because Ms. Shavlik is pro se, the court must construe her complaint liberally when evaluating it under the Iqbal standard. See Johnson v. Lucent Techs., Inc., 653 F.3d 1000, 1011 (9th Cir. 2011). Although the court holds the pleadings of pro se plaintiffs to “less stringent standards than those of licensed attorneys, ” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), “those pleadings nonetheless must meet some minimum threshold in providing a defendant with notice of what it is that it allegedly did wrong, ” Brazil v. U.S. Dep't of the Navy, 66 F.3d 193, 199 (9th Cir. 1995). Accordingly, the court should “not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled.” Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997).

         B. Claims the Court Earlier Dismissed Without Leave to Amend

         Defendants correctly point out that even if Ms. Shavlik does not expressly allege any of the claims that the court previously dismissed without leave to amend, she alludes to some of these dismissed claims in scattered portions of her amended complaint. (MTD at 6-7; see, e.g., FAC at 13:16-14:1 (alleging barratry); id. at 13:16-18 (alleging a violation of RCW 5.68.010); id. at 15:6-9 (alleging that she is entitled to injunctive relief from “an unconstitutionally vague and overbroad Order in Snohomish Court Superior Court”); see also 12/21/18 Order at 29 (dismissing the barratry claim without leave to amend); id. at 28 (dismissing the claim under RCW 5.68.010 without leave to amend); id. at 21 (dismissing the claim against Judge Weiss of the Snohomish County Superior Court without leave to amend); id. at 25 (dismissing the claims for writs of prohibition and certiorari to issue against the Snohomish County Superior Court without leave to amend).) Defendants ask the court to “reaffirm its dismissal of these claims” to the extent her amended complaint represents an attempt to reassert them. (MTD at 6-7.) In her response, Ms. Shavlik acknowledges that she does not intend to reassert these claims in her amended complaint. (Resp. at 3.) To the extent that her amended complaint could be liberally construed to do so, the court reaffirms its dismissal of these claims without leave to amend.

         C. Claims Against New Defendants

         Ms. Shavlik raises claims against two new Defendants in her amended complaint: (1) Mr. Roe, who was formerly the Prosecuting Attorney for Snohomish County, and (2) Detective Fontenot, who Ms. Shavlik alleges is a police detective working for Snohomish County. (See FAC ¶¶ 2.4-2.5.) For the reasons stated below, the court dismisses Ms. Shavlik's claims against these new Defendants.

         1. The Addition of New Defendants is Untimely

         In her amended complaint, Ms. Shavlik brings claims against two new defendants: Mr. Roe and Detective Fontenot. (See FAC ¶¶ 1.3-1.4, 2.4-2.5.) Ms. Shavlik filed her amended complaint on January 8, 2019. (See generally id.) However, the deadline for ...

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