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Nair v. Symmes

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

December 18, 2019

JAYAKRISHNAN K NAIR, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
RICHARD SYMMES, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ON MOTIONS TO DISMISS

          MARSHA J. PECHMAN UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE

         The above-entitled Court, having received and reviewed:

1. Motion to Dismiss Defendants Channa Copeland, Ermin Ciric, and Regeimbal, McDonald & Young, PLLC (Dkt. No. 12);
2. Defendant Harborview Medical Center and Dr. Paul Ramsey's Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. No. 14),
3. Plaintiffs' Combined Response to Motions to Dismiss by Defendants Copeland, Ciric, Regeimbal PLLC, Dr. Paul Ramsey and Harborview Medical Center (Dkt. No. 17);

         all attached declarations and exhibits, and relevant portions of the record, rules as follows:

         IT IS ORDERED that the motions are GRANTED. Defendants Copeland, Ciric, Ramsey, Harborview Medical Center, and Regeimbal, McDonald & Young, PLLC are dismissed from this lawsuit.

         Background

         The above-entitled matter is the latest in a series of lawsuits filed by Plaintiffs. The preceding suits (C19-1296 and C19-1307) have been concerned exclusively with the treatment of Plaintiffs and their mother, Omana Thankamma, by various social welfare and medical agencies of the state. The circumstances of those cases begin with the removal of Ms. Thankamma from the home of Plaintiff Jayakrishnan Nair, and cycle downward through the institutionalization of Ms. Thankamma, the entry of a Vulnerable Adult Protective Order and the imposition of a guardianship over the elderly woman. Case No. C19-1307 (an attempt to remove the state guardianship proceedings to federal court) has been dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Case No. C19-1296 is ongoing, with a Joint Status Report due from the parties in mid-January of 2020.

         Defendants Copeland and Harborview Medical Center (“Harborview”) are named Defendants in C19-1296.[1] Defendants Ciric, Ramsey and the law firm of Regeimbal, McDonald & Young, PLLC are not named Defendants in any of Plaintiffs' other lawsuits.

         The operative document in this lawsuit is an Amended Complaint filed by Plaintiffs on October 29, 2019. Dkt. No. 9. The factual allegations in that document can be divided into two categories. The first category concerns a series of events surrounding real estate owned by Plaintiffs which has been the subject of foreclosures, trustee sales and other misadventures which Plaintiffs allege are the result of malfeasance by a lengthy list of individuals and institutions. Id. at 1-36, ¶¶ 1-118. The second category of allegations is a reiteration of the circumstances described supra concerning Ms. Thankamma and the family's involvement with the state social welfare, medical and judicial system. Id. at 37-45, ¶¶ 119-139. The parties who have filed the motion before the Court are named only in the context of the second category of allegations.

         Discussion

         “Plaintiffs generally have ‘no right to maintain two separate actions involving the same subject matter at the same time in the same court and against the same defendant.'” Adams v. Calif. Dept. of Health Services, 487 F.3d 684, 688 (9th Cir. 2007)(quoting Walton v. Eaton Corp., 563 F.2d 66, 70 (3rd Cir. 1977)). The practice is referred to as “claim splitting” and is disapproved throughout the federal judicial system. The test is enunciated in Adams:

“In the claim-splitting context, the appropriate inquiry is whether, assuming that the first suit were already final, the second suit could be precluded pursuant to claim preclusion. [quoting Hartsel Spring Ranch v. Bluegreen Corp., 296 F.3d 82, 987, n. 1 (10th Cir. 2002)]; Curtis (v. Citibank, N.A.), 226 F.3d at 139-40 (“[T]he normal claim preclusion analysis applies and the court ...

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