United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER ON PIERCE COUNTY DEFENDANTS' CR 12(B)
MOTION TO DISMISS
J. BRYAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court on Pierce County
Defendants' Supplemental Brief and/or Amended CR 12(b)
Motion to Dismiss (“Amended Motion to Dismiss”).
Dkt. 95. The Court is familiar with the motion, all materials
filed in support of and in opposition to the motion, and the
remainder of the record herein, and it is fully advised. For
the reasons set forth below, the Court should grant Pierce
County Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.
case arises from allegedly unlawful searches conducted by
ferry personnel against Plaintiff Richard Brees when he
attempted to board the ferry in his car. Dkt. 83. Pierce
County contracts with Defendant HMS Ferries, Inc.
(“HMS”) to operate Pierce County's ferry
system. Dkt. 46, at 2.
Second Amended Complaint, the operative complaint, alleges
two unlawful searches: one occurring on May 17, 2018, and the
other on May 18, 2018. Dkt. 83, at 8-10. In the first alleged
search, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Steve Caputo, General
Manager (“GM”), HMS Ferries, Inc., alongside an
unnamed Senior Ticketing Agent and Ferry Captain, attempted
to search his vehicle on May 17, 2018. Dkt. 83, at 8-10.
Plaintiff apparently resisted the search and was eventually
allowed to board the ferry. Dkt. 83, at 9.
second alleged search, Plaintiff claims that an “angry
GM” initiated a retaliatory search of his vehicle. Dkt.
83, at 9-10. Plaintiff alleges that he initially resisted the
search, but “under duress” and “[d]esperate
to get home, … [he] walked to his [vehicle] trunk,
opened it, and said ‘fine, I'll play along, I have
to get home, my wife is out of town, and our pets need care,
so here search away.'” Dkt. 83, at 10-11. Plaintiff
alleges that ferry personnel then searched his car's
trunk and instructed Plaintiff to open a large bag, the
contents of which were inspected. Dkt. 83, at 11. The
operative complaint provides that, after the search was
completed, Plaintiff told the GM, “I'll see you in
court asshole.” Dkt. 83, at 11. Plaintiff was then not
allowed to board the ferry. Dkt. 83, at 11.
August 22, 2018, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed an
initial complaint with claims against HMS Ferries, Inc., HMS
Global Maritime, Inc., and Steve Caputo. Dkt. 1-1. On April
19, 2019, Plaintiff filed a first Amended Complaint naming
additional defendants, including Pierce County and three of
its employees, Tiffany Garcia (“Ms. Garcia, ”
Risk Investigator), Lauren Behm (“Ms. Behm, ”
Airport and Ferry Administrator), and MaryBeth DiCarlo
(“Ms. DiCarlo, ” Risk Manager). Dkt. 35-1.
Pierce County, Ms. Garcia, Ms. Behm, and Ms. DiCarlo filed an
initial motion to dismiss (Dkt. 51; still pending
consideration), which the Court granted in an order that it
later vacated. Dkts. 74; 81; and 88. The Court granted leave
to Plaintiff to file a second amended complaint. Dkt. 81. The
Court also granted leave to the defendants to amend or
withdraw their pending motions for dismissal after Plaintiff
filed his Second Amended Complaint (Dkt. 83). Dkt. 88.
Second Amended Complaint abandoned any claims against Ms.
Behm, but maintained several claims against Defendants Pierce
County, Ms. Garcia, and Ms. DiCarlo (collectively
“County Defendants”). Dkts. 83; and 88, at 4-5.
Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint makes fourteen
claims, nine of which are against County Defendants. Dkt. 83,
at 12- 15, ¶¶ 4-5 and 8-14. Plaintiff's only
federal claim against County Defendants is a 42 U.S.C. §
1983 claim alleging violation of the Equal Protection Clause
of the Fourteenth Amendment. Dkt. 83, at 14, ¶ 11. All
other cognizable claims against County Defendants appear to
be state law claims. Dkt. 83, at 12-15.
Defendants filed the instant Amended Motion to Dismiss. Dkt.
95. Plaintiff filed an apparent response in opposition to the
instant motion. Dkt. 103. County Defendants filed an apparent
reply in support of the instant motion. Dkt. 106.
PRO SE STANDARDS
plaintiff proceeds pro se, a district court is required to
afford plaintiff the benefit of any doubt in ascertaining
what claims plaintiff raised in the complaint and argued to
the district court. Alvarez v. Hill, 518 F.3d 1152,
1158 (9th Cir. 2008), (citing Morrison v. Hall, 261
F.3d 896, 899 n.2 (9th Cir. 2001)); see also Karim-Panahi
v. Los Angeles Police Dept., 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir.
1988) (pleadings of pro se civil rights plaintiff to be
construed liberally, affording plaintiff benefit of any
plaintiff filed this complaint pro se, the court has
construed the pleadings liberally and has afforded plaintiff
the benefit of any doubt. See Karim-Panahi, 839 F.2d
at 623. However, “[p]ro se litigants in the ordinary
civil case should not be treated more favorably than parties