United States District Court, E.D. Washington
HALLMARK CARE SERVICES, INC., a Washington corporation, d.b.a. CASTLEMARK GUARDIANSHIP AND TRUSTS d.b.a. EAGLE GUARDIANSHIP, LORI PETERSEN, and KERRI SANDIFER, Plaintiffs,
SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON FOR SPOKANE COUNTY; SPOKANE COUNTY, WASHINGTON, a political subdivision; PAUL ARTHUR BASTINE; and ANA KEMMERER, Defendants.
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT AND GRANTING DEFENDANTS' CROSS-MOTION FOR
O. RICE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
THE COURT is Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 10), Defendants' Cross-Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 19), and Plaintiff's Motion for
Order Vacating Judgments (ECF No. 29). These matters were
submitted for consideration without oral argument. The Court
has reviewed the record and files herein, and is fully
informed. For reasons discussed below, the Court
DENIES Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 10) and GRANTS
Defendants' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No.
19). Plaintiff's Motion for Order Vacating Judgments (ECF
No. 29) is DENIED as moot.
case arises out of the one-year disciplinary suspension of
Lori Petersen, a certified professional guardian
(“CPG”). The following facts are undisputed
unless otherwise noted.
March 13, 2015, the Washington Supreme Court issued an order
affirming the Certified Professional Guardian Board's
(“CPG Board”) one-year suspension of Ms.
Petersen. ECF No. 1-8 at 4, ¶ 13. The Supreme Court also
ordered Ms. Petersen to pay costs to the CGP Board in the
amount of $7, 500.00. See ECF No. 8-1 at 5. At the
time of the Supreme Court's order, Ms. Petersen operated
as a CPG doing business as Empire Care Services or Empire
Care and Guardianship (“Empire”), was also an
employee of Hallmark Care Services, Inc.
(“Hallmark”) and served as a designated CPG for
two CPG agencies operated by Hallmark: Castlemark
Guardianship and Trust (“Castlemark”), and Eagle
Guardianship and Professional Services (“Eagle”).
Id. at 914-15. On March 26, 2015, the Washington
Supreme Court granted a stay of the suspension to allow Ms.
Petersen to work with the CGP Board to ensure her clients
were properly transferred to successor certified guardians.
Id. at 5, ¶ 21.
the Spokane County Superior Court undertook judicial review
not only of cases in which Ms. Petersen served as guardian,
but also the cases assigned to Hallmark, Castlemark, and
Eagle. Id. at 7-8, ¶¶ 31-34. On April 7,
2015, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Kathleen
O'Connor wrote to Defendants' counsel to inform him
that Ms. Petersen's cases, as well as cases associated
with Hallmark/Castlemark/Empire, would be transitioned to
successor guardians. ECF No. 11 at 6, ¶ 17. That same
day, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Ellen Clark signed
an order appointing Defendant Paul Bastine
(“Bastine”) as special master to oversee the
transition to and appointment of successor guardians.
Id. at 7, ¶¶19-20. Judge
O'Connor's letter was mailed to Defendants'
counsel by Defendant Ana Kemmerer (“Kemmerer”),
in her capacity as Guardianship Monitoring Program
Coordinator within the Spokane County Court
Administrator's Office, along with a copy of the order
appointing the special master and two additional letters from
Judge O'Connor-one addressed to GALs in Spokane County
and another addressed to CPGs informing them of Ms.
Petersen's suspension. Id. at 6-7; see
ECF No. 8-1 at 32-45.
April 10, 2015, Spokane County Superior Court Commissioner
Tony Rugel ordered the appointment of a GAL in each of the
125 guardianship actions. ECF No. 21 at 9. Each GAL was
instructed to review the guardianship file and recommend an
appropriate successor guardian. Id. In early May
2015, Spokane County Superior Court Commissioners Steven
Grovdahl or Tami Chavez held hearings for each of the
guardianships. Id. at 9-10. Following the costly
proceedings in which successor guardians were appointed for
more than 120 cases assigned to Ms. Petersen and the CGP
agencies she was involved with, the Spokane Superior Court
assessed costs of the procedure against Ms. Petersen,
Hallmark, Castlemark, and Eagle. Ms. Petersen and the CPG
agencies appealed to the Washington Court of Appeals,
challenging (1) their removal as guardians, and (2) the
assessment of GAL fees against them.
October 18, 2018, Division Three of the Washington Court of
Appeals entered an unpublished opinion reversing the money
judgments and remanding all 125 cases back to the Spokane
County Superior Court for further proceedings consistent with
its ruling. See ECF No. 1-8 at 910-34.
Because the court commissioner previously determined Ms.
Petersen and the CPG agencies lacked standing to appeal their
removal as guardians, the only issue on appeal concerned the
judgments assessing GAL fees, specifically: “Whether
the superior court violated CR 54(f)(2) and
Hallmark's and Ms. Petersen's due process rights when
it filed judgments requiring Ms. Petersen and Hallmark to
reimburse Spokane County for the GAL fees incurred in each of
the cases.” Id. at 927. The Court of Appeals
held that the “entry of the money judgments violated
both CR 54(f)(2) and Ms. Petersen's and Hallmark's
right to due process.” Id. at 929. The Court
of Appeals then described the proper “procedure on
remand, ” which is worth quoting at length:
Because our commissioner has dismissed Ms. Petersen's and
Hallmark's challenges to the orders removing her and
Hallmark's agencies as guardians, we write further to
make clear that in any future proceedings, they are free to
challenge the assessment of GAL fees (but not the orders
removing them as guardians) on the basis that the replacement
process followed by the court was not necessary.
Evidence presented in future proceedings may or may not
support the guardian replacement procedure followed by the
court and an assessment of fees against Hallmark or Ms.
Petersen. We do not prejudge that issue, but want to be clear
that our commissioner's decision that the guardian
replacement decisions were not before us on appeal does not
foreclose Hallmark's challenge to fee assessments based
on what it claims was an unnecessary guardian removal
procedure. We reverse the money judgments only, and remand
for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
We retain jurisdiction to avoid the administrative
inconvenience to the courts and the parties that would be
presented should the conduct of further hearings result in
over 120 new appeals.
Id. at 20, 24-25.
March 6, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a collateral and independent
Complaint against the Spokane County Superior Court and
Spokane County seeking to effectuate the Court of Appeals
decision and also seeking damages. ECF No. 1-5 at 1-63 (cause
number 19201029-32). On March 18, 2019, Plaintiffs filed an
Amended Complaint adding Defendants Paul Bastine (the court
appointed Special Master) and Ana Kemmerer (the Guardianship
Monitoring Program Coordinator). ECF No. 1-8. Inexplicably in
this separate lawsuit, Plaintiffs seek an order to effectuate
the Court of Appeals' decision (“[v]acating all
money judgments in each of the [remanded] guardianship cases
consistent with the ruling by the Court of Appeals”)
and damages related to the allegedly unconstitutional and
unlawful money judgments. See ECF No. 1-8 at 1-892.
Because the Amended Complaint sought damages under the
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,
Defendants filed a petition to remove the case from state
court to federal court on April 1, 2019. ECF Nos. 1; 1-1. In
the meantime, Plaintiffs apparently added another purported
Plaintiff, Kerri Sandifer, by filing a second amended
“Complaint Joinder of Party and Claims” on April
1, 2019. ECF No. 7 at 11-22.
April 24, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a motion to remand this case
back to state court. ECF No. 7. The Court denied the motion
on May 31, 2019, holding that Plaintiffs' Complaint and
the second amendment to ...