United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER ON MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT
J. Pechman, United States Senior District Judge
above-entitled Court, having received and reviewed:
1. Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as to
Liability (Dkt. No. 16),
2. Defendant's Response in Opposition to Plaintiffs'
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as to Liability (Dkt. No.
3. Plaintiffs' Reply in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion
for Partial Summary Judgment as to Liability (Dkt. No. 20),
all attached declarations and exhibits, and relevant portions
of the record, rules as follows:
ORDERED that the motion is PARTIALLY DENIED (both as to
Plaintiffs' motion to strike and as to that portion of
Plaintiffs' theory of liability based on their alleged
FURTHER ORDERED that the parties are to provide further
briefing on the issue of the application of the statute of
limitations to claims under RCW4.16.040(2) (the
“accounts receivable” statute) as detailed at the
conclusion of this order.
2009-2013, Plaintiff Shara Cawley-Bruso
(“Cawley-Bruso”) worked as a veterinary
technician for the Animal Hospital at Murphy's Corner
(“AHMC”). She alleges that during that period all
veterinarian services provided through AHMC were provided at
no cost as a benefit to the employees. Dkt. No. 16-1, Decl.
of Cawley-Bruso at ¶¶ 10-11. Plaintiff
Cawley-Bruso does not dispute that services were provided to
pets belonging to her and her husband (co-Plaintiff Michael
Bruso [“Bruso”], who was her boyfriend during
this period); she says she did a lot of the veterinarian
work, but again does not dispute that she used AHMC's
facilities and equipment.
in August 2015 until January 2019, Plaintiffs began receiving
collection notices from Defendant Professional Credit Service
(“PCS”), relating to a series of debts totaling
$751.95 and allegedly owed to AHMC. Dkt. No. 16-1, Decl. of
Cawley-Bruso, Ex. A. The timing of the letters is relevant. The
first letter is dated August 10, 2015, is addressed to Bruso
alone and cites a debt of $751.70. (BRUSO 024.) The second is
dated August 11, 2015, is again addressed to Bruso alone and
references a debt of $751.95. (BRUSO 025; it is identical in
every other respect to the 8/10/15 letter, with no
explanation for the $0.25 discrepancy.) The third is dated
October 15, 2015, is addressed to Cawley-Bruso, and cites the
$1838 debt (this claim is mentioned nowhere else in the
parties' arguments; see fn. 2). The fourth is
dated January 29, 2016, is addressed to Bruso and claims a
total amount owing of $781.24 ($750.95 $30.29 interest;
BRUSO 004-005). A fifth letter, dated November 15, 2017, is
addressed to Cawley-Bruso and cites a $750.95 claim plus
interest of $191.99 for a total of $924.94. (BRUSO 002.) The
final letter is dated January 25, 2019, is addressed to Bruso
and cites the $750.95 debt with interest now grown to $299.97
for a total of $1, 050.93. (BRUSO 001.) Except for the
October 15, 2015 letter to Cawley-Bruso, all letters
(regardless of whom they are addressed to) cite the same PCS
and AHMC account numbers.
addition to her position that AHMC employees received free
veterinary services, Plaintiff Cawley-Bruso also asserts that
(1) she never saw any invoices during her five years of
employment, (2) the clinic veterinarian (and owner) listed on
the invoices did “nearly none” of the work
reflected in the billing, (3) the invoices do not
“represent any services actually rendered” (this
allegation is not explained further and the Court is unclear
on what it means), and (4) she never agreed to pay for any of
the services actually rendered. Id. at ¶¶
16-20. Plaintiff Bruso declares that he relied on
Cawley-Bruso to arrange for (and provide) the treatment for
their pets. Dkt. No. 16-2, Decl. of Bruso, ¶¶ 4-5.
2016, PCS reported the alleged debt as a liability on
Plaintiff Bruso's credit. Id. at ¶ 8. PCS
continued to accumulate interest payments on the alleged
unpaid debt; in January 2019, the company sent a collection
notice demanding $1, 050.92 and threatening legal action.
Decl. of Cawley-Bruso, Ex. A, BRUSO 001.
initiated this lawsuit in state court in March 2019,
asserting violations of the federal Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act (“FDCPA”) and the Washington
Collection Agency Act (“WCAA”); Defendant removed
the matter to federal court on April 1, 2019. Dkt. No. 1-1.
Motion to Strike
make a three-fold motion to strike. First, they move to
strike Defendant's response as untimely, but the Court
has already entered an order permitting a late-filed response
in this matter. (Dkt. No. 22).
next move to strike the relevant (and damaging to their case)
portions of the Declaration of Donna Sowder. (Dkt. No. 17-1.)
Sowder is owner of AHMC and Plaintiff Cawley-Bruso's
former employer. Her declaration asserts in relevant part
that (1) her employees received discounted services, but she
had no agreement with Cawley-Bruso to provide a 100%
discount, and (2) the services reflected ...