United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
THOMAS J. PAULSON, Plaintiff,
THE CITY OF MOUNTLAKE TERRACE et al., Defendants.
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendants' motion to
dismiss and for sanctions (Dkt. No. 19). Having thoroughly
considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record,
the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS
in part and DENIES in part the motion for the reasons
September 9, 2019, Plaintiff filed a complaint against
Defendants in Snohomish County Superior Court. (Dkt. No.
1-1.) Plaintiff sought monetary damages and asserted that
Defendant City of Mountlake Terrace “was deliberate in
the handling of the affairs and the events surrounding Thomas
J. Paulson's criminal case of Domestic Violence 2002
until the year 2019 failing to train, supervise and/or
discipline prosecutors, staff, public defenders and
especially the city Domestic Violence Coordinator.”
(Id. at 2.) Defendants removed the case on September
17, 2019, (Dkt. No. 1), and Plaintiff filed an amended
complaint on September 27, 2019, (Dkt. No. 7).
Plaintiff's amended complaint reiterates his assertion
that Defendant City of Mountlake Terrace deliberately
mishandled his 2002 domestic violence case by failing to
train, supervise, or discipline various public employees.
(Id. at 2-3.) Plaintiff specifically alleges that
“the prosecutor, public defender and Domestic Violence
Coordinator suppressed exculpatory evidence from”
Plaintiff. (Id. at 3.) In the “Legal
Authority” section of his amended complaint, Plaintiff
alleges several claims purportedly arising under Washington
state law. (See id. at 5-6.)
amended complaint also references several “Notary
Statements” containing witness testimony and the
Eastern District of Washington's decision in Vargas
v. Earl, 2008 WL 5102310, slip op. at 1 (E.D. Wash.
2008). (Id. at 3-4.) One of cited notary statements
is the signed statement of Mary E. Solberg and Josephine E.
Paulson, which asserts that during the 2002 criminal
proceedings against Plaintiff they were told by
Plaintiff's public defender that there was “no
evidence” supporting the domestic violence charges
against Plaintiff. (Dkt. No. 9 at 2.) The rest of the notary
statements are signed statements of former employees of
Defendant City of Mountlake Terrace that attest to the
signors' belief that Josephine Paulson's written
testimony is accurate. (See Dkt. No. 8 at 3-5.)
Plaintiff has also filed excerpts of the plaintiff's
complaint in Vargas. (See Dkt. No. 9 at
moves to dismiss Plaintiff's claims pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and requests that sanctions
be imposed on Plaintiff pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 11. (Dkt. No. 19.) In response, Plaintiff states
that, “The Defendant, The City of Mountlake Terrace
through their pleadings to dismiss this case have no
witnesses in their pleadings that can come forward factually.
Former City of Mountlake Terrace Officials have signed Notary
Statements for the Plaintiff!” (Dkt. No. 25 at 1.)
defendant may move for dismissal when a plaintiff
“fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To survive a motion to
dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 677-78 (2009). A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged. Id. at 678. Although the
court must accept as true a complaint's well-pleaded
facts, conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted
inferences will not defeat an otherwise proper Rule 12(b)(6)
motion. Vasquez v. Los Angeles County, 487 F.3d
1246, 1249 (9th Cir. 2007); Sprewell v. Golden State
Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001). A plaintiff
is obligated to provide grounds for their entitlement to
relief that amount to more than labels and conclusions or a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545
(2007). “[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does
not require ‘detailed factual allegations,' but it
demands more than an unadorned,
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Dismissal under Rule
12(b)(6) “can [also] be based on the lack of a
cognizable legal theory.” Balistreri v. Pacifica
Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).
assessing the sufficiency of a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6),
the court ordinarily must not consider material outside of
the pleadings. Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d
668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001). One exception to this rule is the
incorporation-by-reference doctrine, which allows the court
to “consider evidence on which the ‘complaint
“necessarily relies” if: (1) the complaint refers
to the document; (2) the document is central to the
plaintiff's claim; and (3) no party questions the
authenticity of the copy attached to the 12(b)(6)
motion.'” Daniels-Hall v. Nat'l Educ.
Ass'n, 629 F.3d 992, 988 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting
Marder v. Lopez, 450 F.3d 445, 448 (9th Cir. 2006)).
asserts that “the prosecutor, public defender and
Domestic Violence Coordinator suppressed exculpatory evidence
from” Plaintiff during his 2002 criminal case, which
the Court construes as a claim brought pursuant to Brady
v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). (Dkt. No. 7 at 2, 3.)
“[T]he suppression by the prosecution of evidence
favorable to an accused upon request violates due process
where the evidence is material either to guilt or to
punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of
the prosecution.” Brady, 373 U.S. at 87.
Because a violation of Brady deprives a person of
the constitutional right to due process, a plaintiff may sue
governmental actors under § 1983 for alleged
Brady violations. See id. at 88; United
States v. Agurs, 427 U.S. 97 (1976). To do so, a
plaintiff must prove three elements: “The evidence at
issue must be favorable to the accused, either because it is
exculpatory, or because it is impeaching; that evidence must
have been suppressed by the State, either willfully or
inadvertently; and prejudice must have ensued.”
Strickler v. Greene, 527 U.S. 263, 281-82 (1999).
“A prosecutor's decision not to preserve or turn
over exculpatory material before trial, during trial, or
after conviction . . . is, nonetheless, an exercise of the
prosecutorial function and entitles the prosecutor to
absolute immunity from a civil suit for damages.”
Broam v. Bogan, 320 F.3d 1023, 1030 (9th Cir. 2003).
complaint does not describe the nature of the evidence that
was allegedly suppressed during his 2002 criminal
proceedings. (See generally Dkt. No. 7.) Notably,
the statements Plaintiff has filed in support of his amended
complaint assert that there was “No Evidence”
supporting the domestic violence charges against Plaintiff,
not that evidence favorable to Plaintiff was suppressed.
See Strickler, 527 U.S. at 281-82; (Dkt. No. 9 at
2.) Thus, Plaintiff's amended complaint and supporting
documents do not establish a plausible claim for relief on
this ground. See Brady, 373 U.S. at 87;
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Moreover, Plaintiff only
seeks monetary damages as relief, which he cannot recover
from the prosecutor even if he established a Brady
violation claim. See Broam, 320 F.3d at
1030. Therefore, Defendants' motion to
dismiss is GRANTED as to this claim.
Monell Claim against Defendant City of ...