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Pillon v. Marlow

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

November 14, 2019

CHUCK PILLON, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTT MARLOW, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS OF DEFENDANTS SCOTT MARLOW AND STATE OF WASHINGTON

          BRIAN A. TSUCHIDA Chief United States Magistrate Judge

         Defendants Scott Marlow (“Marlow”) and State of Washington (“State”) move pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), to dismiss Plaintiff Chuck Pillon's (“Pillon”) amended complaint. Dkt. 10. Defendant Julia Garratt also filed a motion to dismiss (Dkt. 13), which is addressed by separate order.

         Defendants Marlow and State argue dismissal is warranted because the State has sovereign immunity; Marlow has prosecutorial immunity; the Younger and Rooker-Feldman abstention doctrines dictate this Court should not hear this case; and, Pillon has failed to state a claim. Dkt. 10. In a response entitled “Interim Pleading, ” Pillon argues he is entitled to summary judgment because the uncontested facts show “grievous errors on the part of the two State agents here…Judge Julia Garratt and AAG Scott Marlow.” Dkt. 15 at 5.

         The Court finds that the motion to dismiss should be granted because Marlow and State are immune from liability and that abstention by this court is appropriate because federal adjudication of Pillon's claims would interfere with a pending state court criminal matter.

         FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

         The State of Washington charged and convicted Pillon with unlawful dumping of solid waste without a permit under RCW 70.95.240. Dkt. 7 (Affidavit of Exhibits to Amended Complaint), Ex. 2, State v. Pillon, King County Superior Court No. 16-1-05983-6 KNT). Pursuant to RCW 70.95.240(3)(c)(i), it is a gross misdemeanor for a person to litter a cubic yard or more. If that occurs, the person shall pay a “litter cleanup restitution payment, ” which “must be the greater of twice the actual cost of removing and properly disposing of the litter, or one hundred dollars per cubic foot of litter.” RCW 70.95.240(3)(c)(ii).

         Pillon was also charged and convicted in the same case of violating the Hazardous Waste Management Act (RCW 70.105.085(1)(b) & .010) and wrecking vehicles without a license with a prior conviction (RCW 46.80.020). Dkt. 10, Exhibits 1-3, State v. Pillon, King County Superior Court No. 16-1-05983-6 KNT) (Ex. 1-first amended information), (Ex. 2 - findings of fact and conclusions of law), and (Ex. 3 - docket sheet showing conviction)).[1]

         King County Superior Court Judge Julia Garratt presided over the trial and Assistant Attorney General Scott Marlow prosecuted the matter. Dkt. 6 at 3. After Pillon's conviction, the Superior Court had to determine the amount of payment, according to RCW 70.95.240(3)(c)(ii). Given the scale of the litter on Pillon's property, the State calculated that the volume of cubic waste on the property was 558, 419.88 cubic feet. Dkt. 7, Ex. 5 at 3.

         Rather than multiply that by $100 under RCW 70.95.240(3)(c)(ii) to arrive at a $55, 841, 988 penalty, the State proposed that the Superior Court follow a stipulation between the parties that Pillon brought 120 cubic yards of solid waste onto the property during the 12-month charging period. Id. The State contended that the $55 million was inappropriate. Id. That lead to a calculation under RCW 70.95.240(3)(c)(ii) of an award of $3, 888, 000. Id. The Superior Court agreed and entered an order setting litter cleanup restitution in the amount of $3, 888, 000. Dkt. 7, Ex. 2.

         Pillon appealed to the Washington Court of Appeals, Division I. The parties' briefs have been filed and the matter is presently awaiting decision. Dkt. 10, Ex. 4. In his appellate brief, Pillon relies on the same factual allegations relating to the Superior Court's actions throughout the trial to support an alleged violation of his federal rights. Dkt. 7, Ex. 12.

         Pillon also brought an action in King County Superior Court regarding the water quality near his property, which action led to a stipulation that Washington's Department of Ecology did not need further water samples. Dkt. 7, Ex. 3. However, there is no apparent connection between that stipulation and the solid waste on Pillon's property.

         And finally, Pillon filed the lawsuit in this case, alleging violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of Washington, “in the persons of” AAG Marlow and Judge Garratt. Dkt. 6 at 1. Pillon alleges that AAG Marlow and Judge Garratt acted illegally throughout the course of the trial, that the water quality in a nearby river on the property shows that there is no need for further remediation, and Pillon was convinced not to allow individuals to stay on his property. Dkt. 6.

         Pillon asks the Court to vacate the litter cleanup restitution order, to order that all funds be returned to Pillon, and to award “punitive penalties” for “the emotional and practical harm Plaintiff has suffered.” Id. at 21.

         LEGAL ...


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