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Ju v. Lacombe

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

June 28, 2019

FRANCES DU JU, Plaintiff,
v.
MAURICE LACOMBE, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGEMENT AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DEFERMENT AS MOOT

          BENJAMIN H. SETTLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Frances Du Ju's (“Ju”) motion asking the Court to deny or disregard a notice of unavailability filed in the docket, Dkt. 67, and Ju's motion for entry of final judgment as to fewer than all parties, Dkt. 70. The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motions and the remainder of the file and hereby and denies as moot the motion involving the notice of unavailability and grants in part the motion for entry of final judgment for the reasons stated herein.

         I. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On April 20, 2018, Ju filed a complaint asserting various causes of action against Defendants Washington State, John/Jane Doe employees of the Court of Appeals, Division II, Maurice Lacombe (“Lacombe”), and Airbnb, Inc. Dkt. 1. Ju's claims against Washington State and the John/Jane Doe employees (collectively referenced in prior orders and hereinafter as “State Defendants”) and Lacombe are based on factual allegations arising from an unlawful detainer action in the state superior court, which entered a judgment adverse to Ju, and a subsequent appeal affirming the judgment.

         On December 5, 2018, the Court issued an order granting the State Defendants' motion to dismiss based on judicial and sovereign immunity and for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Dkt. 54.[1] The Court also concluded that any amendment of Ju's claims against the State Defendants would be futile and dismissed the claims against the State Defendants with prejudice. Id. at 13. On January 25, 2019, the Court denied Ju's motion for reconsideration. Dkt. 62.

         On March 27, 2019, Lacombe filed a notice of unavailability in the docket indicating his unavailability between April 4 and April 23, 2019. Dkt. 66 (“it is requested that any action taken in this case would be scheduled or deferred accordingly.”). On April 4, 2019, Ju filed a motion “to Deny Defendant Lacombes [sic] Request for Deferment.” Dkt. 67. Lacombe did not respond.

         On April 19, 2019, the Court denied a motion to dismiss brought by Lacombe. Dkt. 69. In that order, Dkt. 69, the Court construed Ju's response to the motion to dismiss as a request for leave to amend her complaint, see Dkt. 61 at 9, 11-13, which the Court granted, Dkt. 69 at 2-4. To the extent that Ju sought to add to or clarify her claims against the already-dismissed State Defendants, the Court denied leave to amend. Id. at 2. The Court explained that it was granting leave to amend the complaint against the remaining defendants (Lacombe and Airbnb) because the factual basis for Ju's claims against these defendants was confusing, leaving the Court unable to assess subject-matter jurisdiction. Id. at 4 (“it is unclear whether amendment of these claims would be futile.”). As a result, the Court ordered Ju to file an amended complaint explaining how Lacombe had specifically interfered with her rights on each claim brought against him by May 3, 2019. Id.

         On April 30, 2019, Ju moved for entry of final judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b) of the Court's Order Dismissing State Defendants, Dkt. 54, and Order Denying Motion for Reconsideration, Dkt. 62. Dkt. 70. Ju also sought leave to stay the filing deadline of the amended complaint. Id. at 2. On May 13, 2019, the State Defendants responded. Dkt. 72. The State Defendants “do not object to entry of a final judgment . . . as to the dismissal of the claims against the State Defendants.” Id. However, the State Defendants “object to any amendment of the complaint that includes claims against the State Defendants.” Id.

         On May 15, 2019, Lacombe responded. Dkt. 73. On May 16, 2019, Ju replied.[2]

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Motion for Entry of Final Judgment

          “When an action presents more than one claim for relief . . . or when multiple parties are involved, the court may direct entry of a final judgment as to one or more, but fewer than all, claims or parties only if the court expressly determines that there is no just reason for delay.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b). An order of dismissal with prejudice is a final order. Wakefield v. Thompson, 177 F.3d 1160, 1162 (9th Cir. 1999). The determination of whether “there is any just reason for delay . . . is left to the sound judicial discretion of the district court.” Curtiss-Wright Corp. v. Gen. Elec. Corp., 446 U.S. 1, 8 (1980).

         In this case, the claims against the State Defendants have been finally adjudicated. See Dkt. 54 (Order Granting State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice; Dkt. 62 (Order Denying Motion for Reconsideration). Ju argues that there is no just reason to delay in entering final judgment on the Court's dismissal with prejudice of the State Defendants. The Court finds that is no just reason to delay appellate review of the Court's dismissal of the claims against the State Defendants because the State Defendants do not oppose final judgment. Dkt. 72. Moreover, in dismissing the claims against the State Defendants with prejudice the Court relied in part on the doctrines of sovereign and judicial immunity. Dkt. 54. If another appeal is later taken by Ju or one of the remaining defendants, who are not state actors, that appeal is unlikely to necessitate repeat analysis of the sovereign and/or judicial immunity issues. Therefore, the Court grants Ju's unopposed motion for entry of final judgment in favor of the State Defendants.

         Ju also seeks to stay the filing deadline for the amended complaint against Lacombe until the parties submit briefing to the Ninth Circuit, presumably referring to the parties on the appeal that Ju plans to take against the State Defendants once this Court enters an order of finality. Dkt. 70 at 2. Ju believes that an amended complaint omitting causes of action against the State Defendants will “confuse and mislead the 9th Circuit Court; and jeopardize the appeal and the legality of an amended Complaint.” Id. at 10. The Court disagrees because, as stated in its order requiring Ju to file an amended complaint, “the Court is unable to evaluate the legal sufficiency of its jurisdiction because Ju's complaint does not plausibly show how Lacombe allegedly acted in interference with Ju's rights on each claim, entitling her to relief. Dkt. 69 at 4 (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 540 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007) (emphasis in original). Ju does not explain how the Court's requirement that she file an amended complaint omitting causes of action against the already-dismissed State ...


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