Brunner v. City of Lake Stevens et al

Filing 88

ORDER granting Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment 56 58 . Brunner's claims are DISMISSED in their entirety. Given this outcome, Brunner's pending motion to continue trial 84 is MOOT. Signed by U.S. District Judge John C Coughenour. (PM)

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THE HONORABLE JOHN C. COUGHENOUR 1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 7 8 9 NATALIE BRUNNER, 10 Plaintiff, v. 11 CASE NO. C15-1763-JCC ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT CITY OF LAKE STEVENS, ANDREW THOR, DAN LORENTZEN, and DOES 1-500, 12 13 14 Defendants. 15 16 This matter comes before the Court on the motions for summary judgment by Defendants 17 City of Lake Stevens and Dan Lorentzen (Dkt. No. 56) and Defendant Andrew Thor (Dkt. No. 18 58). Having thoroughly considered the parties’ briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds 19 oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS the motions for the reasons explained herein. 20 I. 21 BACKGROUND1 Plaintiff Natalie Brunner2 and Defendant Andrew Thor met online and entered into a 22 23 24 25 26 1 The facts are viewed in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, as is appropriate on summary judgment review. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). 2 Brunner filed this suit as “Natalie Brunner.” (See Dkt. No. 1.) According to Thor, Brunner’s “true legal name is Natalie Porter,” and Thor refers to her as such throughout his briefing. (Dkt. 58 at 1.) This distinction is legally irrelevant and appears to be an improper attempt to antagonize Brunner by calling attention to her marital status. The Court will refer to Brunner by her chosen name. ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT PAGE - 1 1 personal relationship in early 2011. (Dkt. No. 59-1 at 13.) At the time, Brunner believed that she 2 was in a relationship with “Drew Kidd.” (Id. at 18.) Over the course of their three-and-a-half- 3 year relationship, Thor crafted numerous stories about his identity in an attempt to hide the fact 4 that he was married with a family. (Dkt. No. 59-5 at 3.) Thor repeatedly lied about his 5 occupation, claiming he was employed by the U.S. Army Special Forces, British Special Air 6 Services, and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. (Id.) In reality, Thor was a police officer 7 with the Lake Stevens Police Department (the Department). (Dkt. No. 59-4 at 2.) 8 9 In May 2013, Brunner was followed to her sister’s home by a black SUV. (Dkt. No. 57-1 at 31-32.) As she got out of her car, the SUV passed at a slow pace, then turned around and 10 drove by once more. (Id. at 31.) Brunner saw multiple men in the car, with Thor sitting in the 11 middle seat. (Id. at 31-32.) She thought this was strange, because she believed he was out of the 12 country. (Id. at 32.) The car sped off quickly. (Id.) When Brunner asked Thor—whom she still 13 believed to be Drew Kidd—he told her he drove by because “his team was in Seattle for 14 something.” (Id.) Later, when Brunner discovered Thor’s true identity, she came to believe that 15 the men in the SUV were Thor’s fellow law enforcement officers. (Dkt. No. 76 at 8.) 16 Then, in November, four Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies came to Brunner’s townhouse 17 in Puyallup. (Dkt. No. 57-1 at 50-51.) They told Brunner that there was a kidnap victim named 18 Brittany who called and said she was at Brunner’s address. (Id. at 51.) Brunner’s address was 19 complicated and she had recently moved in, so she felt it was “a little odd and bewildering” that 20 someone would have given her exact address. (Id. at 52.) Brunner later saw on Facebook that one 21 of the deputies was in a picture with Thor and that the deputy was in a relationship with a woman 22 named Brittany. (Id.) 23 In October 2014, Brunner and Thor took a trip together to Anacortes. (Dkt. No. 59-1 at 24 43; Dkt. No. 59-4 at 4.) During that trip, Thor asked Brunner if she wanted to see the “book 25 report” he had on her. (Dkt. No. 59-1 at 47.) Thor showed Brunner several pages of personal 26 information about her, including her driver’s license and Social Security card. (Id.) Thor then ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT PAGE - 2 1 wanted to show Brunner his guns, even though she had told him guns made her uncomfortable. 2 (Id. at 48.) Afterwards, at about 1:00 a.m., Thor suggested they take a walk. (Dkt. No. 59-4 at 4.) 3 During the walk, Thor told Brunner “a story from a recent mission during which he had captured 4 and interrogated a terrorist leader and killed his body guards by poisoning them and then 5 shooting them to finish them off.” (Id.) 6 Brunner’s mother and friends had told her several times that “something was off with 7 Drew” (referring to Thor by the name he gave Brunner). (Id. at 5.) After the weekend in 8 Anacortes, Brunner researched Thor online. (Id.) She had seen a military ID card for “Andrew 9 Thor” during an earlier visit with him, so she typed that name into Google. (Id.) Her search 10 turned up a link to a TV news video featuring Thor in his Department uniform speaking about 11 identity theft. (Id.) Brunner was shocked. (Id.) A subsequent Facebook search revealed that Thor 12 was married with a child. (Dkt. No. 57-1 at 55.) 13 Once Brunner became aware of Thor’s real identity, she contacted the Department and 14 informed them of Thor’s conduct. (See Dkt. No. 59-4.) Brunner later learned that Thor had 15 accessed her confidential information using the Department database. (Dkt. No. 57-1 at 46.) 16 The Department placed Thor on paid leave and investigated his conduct. (Dkt. No. 57-2 17 at 6.) The findings of the investigation included the following: (1) “Officer Thor used 18 information he obtained as a result of his employment for personal use, without the express 19 permission of the Chief of Police or his designee”; (2) “Officer Thor engaged in a pattern of 20 wrongful and unlawful exercise of authority, criminal, dishonest, and disgraceful conduct, and 21 other on-duty and off-duty conduct which is unbecoming of this department and clearly contrary 22 to department rules”; and (3) “[t]here is insufficient evidence that Officer Thor disseminated any 23 protected information to a party that did not have a right or need to know.” (Id. at 7-8.) As a 24 result of the investigation, Thor resigned. (See id. at 7.) 25 26 Brunner took out a restraining order against Thor. (Dkt. No. 50 at 2.) However, she believes that he continued to research and monitor her online. (Id.) ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT PAGE - 3 1 On November 9, 2015, Brunner filed the present suit against Thor, Department Chief Dan 2 Lorentzen, and the City of Lake Stevens. (Dkt. No. 1 at 1.) She alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. 3 § 1983, violation of the Washington Constitution, negligence, assault, battery, and fraud and 4 misrepresentation. (Dkt. No. 1 at 13-20.) 5 6 Defendants now move for summary judgment dismissal of all claims. (Dkt. Nos. 56, 58.) II. DISCUSSION 7 A. Summary Judgment Standard 8 The Court shall grant summary judgment if the moving party shows that there is no 9 genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a 10 matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). In making such a determination, the Court must view the 11 facts and justifiable inferences to be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the 12 nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). Once a motion for 13 summary judgment is properly made and supported, the opposing party must present specific 14 facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Matsushita Elec. Indus. 15 Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Material facts are those that may affect the 16 outcome of the case, and a dispute about a material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence 17 for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49. 18 Ultimately, summary judgment is appropriate against a party who “fails to make a showing 19 sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party’s case, and on which that 20 party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). 21 B. Section 1983 22 Count One of Brunner’s complaint makes a § 1983 claim against Thor,3 alleging 23 violations of Brunner’s liberty, privacy, and equal protection rights, as well as her rights against 24 Brunner’s complaint actually names all Defendants under this count. (See Dkt. No. 1 at 13.) However, she alleges no actual conduct on the part of any other Defendant with respect to these claims. Accordingly, the alleged liability of Chief Lorentzen and the Department will be analyzed only as to Count Two. 3 25 26 ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT PAGE - 4 1 excessive force and unreasonable search and seizure. (See Dkt. No. 1 at 13-14.) Count Two 2 alleges a § 1983 claim against Chief Lorentzen and the Department based on their supervision of 3 Thor. (Id. at 14-15.) 4 1. Standards: Section 1983 and Qualified Immunity 5 To establish liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate that (1) the 6 defendant acted under color of state law, and (2) the defendant deprived the plaintiff of a right 7 secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. Learned v. City of Bellevue, 860 F.2d 8 928, 933 (9th Cir. 1988). Section 1983 liability generally arises only upon a showing of a 9 defendant’s personal participation in the alleged violations.4 Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 10 11 (9th Cir. 1989). The doctrine of qualified immunity acts as a bar against § 1983 claims insofar as the 12 government official’s conduct “does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional 13 rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 14 818 (1982). Once a defendant raises the defense of qualified immunity, the plaintiff bears the 15 burden of proving the existence of a clearly established right at the time of the allegedly 16 impermissible conduct. LSO, Ltd. v. Stroh, 205 F.3d 1146, 1157 (9th Cir. 2000). The Court 17 “do[es] not require a case directly on point, but existing precedent must have placed the statutory 18 or constitutional question beyond debate.” Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, 563 U.S. 731, 741 (2011). It will 19 not suffice to merely articulate a broad constitutional right. See id. at 742. “The general 20 proposition, for example, that an unreasonable search or seizure violates the Fourth Amendment 21 is of little help in determining whether the violative nature of particular conduct is clearly 22 established.” Id. “If the plaintiff cannot meet this burden, the inquiry ends and defendants are 23 entitled to summary judgment.” Sepatis v. City and Cnty. of San Francisco, 217 F. Supp. 2d 992, 24 997 (N.D. Cal. 2002). 25 26 4 In some circumstances, a supervisor or governing body may also be subject to liability under § 1983. These rules are addressed below in section II.B.7. ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT PAGE - 5 1 2. Due Process Liberty 2 Brunner first alleges that she was deprived of her right to liberty under the Fourteenth 3 Amendment. (See Dkt. No. 1 at 13.) The Fourteenth Amendment provides that “no State shall 4 deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” U.S. CONST. amend. 5 XIV, § 1. Brunner asserts that Thor violated this provision by searching for her private 6 information on the Department database and by “compiling dossiers on [Brunner] and her family 7 and friends.” (Dkt. No. 1 at 13; Dkt. No. 77 at 8.) 8 However, Thor did not “act[] under color of state law merely because he was a law 9 enforcement officer.” See Van Ort v. Estate of Stanewich, 92 F.3d 831, 838 (9th Cir. 1996). 10 Rather, Thor’s actions must have been related in some way to the performance of his official 11 duties. See id. There is no evidence that Thor researched Brunner’s personal information as part 12 of any official duty. Rather, the record shows that Thor’s conduct was a result of his personal 13 relationship with Brunner. Section 1983 does not apply. 14 This claim against Thor is DISMISSED. 15 16 3. Zone of Privacy Brunner next alleges that she was deprived of her right to privacy because of Thor’s 17 unauthorized disclosure of her confidential information. (Dkt. No. 77 at 12.) There is no “general 18 right to privacy” in the U.S. Constitution; rather, this area of the law is left largely to the states. 19 Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 351 (1967). However, there are two “zones of privacy” that 20 are constitutionally-protected: (1) the “individual interest in avoiding disclosure of personal 21 matters,” and (2) “the interest in independence in making certain kinds of important decisions.” 22 Whalen v. Roe, 429 U.S. 589, 599-600 (1977). 23 Brunner alleges that Thor infringed on the first “zone” by revealing the dossiers of her 24 personal information to others, including a “buddy in the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office,” as well 25 as several Seattle officers. (Dkt. No. 77 at 12.) Again, there is no evidence that this conduct was 26 ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT PAGE - 6 1 part of Thor’s official duties. Moreover, Brunner has produced no evidence—only assertions in 2 her brief—that Thor shared her information with anyone else. 3 4 5 This claim against Thor is DISMISSED. 4. Equal Protection /Discriminatory Law Enforcement Brunner further alleges that Thor’s disclosure of her personal information violated the 6 Equal Protection Clause and her right to be free from discriminatory law enforcement. (Dkt. No. 7 1 at 13.) However, as discussed above, Brunner has not shown that Thor was acting under the 8 color of state law and she submits no evidence to support her claim that Thor distributed her 9 information to other people. 10 Moreover, she has not provided argument or evidence to show that the Equal Protection 11 Clause applies here. “To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for a violation of the Equal 12 Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, a plaintiff must show that the defendant acted 13 with a discriminatory purpose that resulted in a discriminatory effect.” Rosenbaum v. City & 14 County of San Francisco, 484 F.3d 1142, 1152 (9th Cir. 2007). To establish discriminatory 15 purpose, “a plaintiff must establish that the decision-maker selected or reaffirmed a particular 16 course of action at least in part because of, not merely in spite of, its adverse effects upon an 17 identifiable group.” Id. To establish discriminatory effect, “the claimant must show that similarly 18 situated individuals were not prosecuted.” Id. Brunner has made no assertions to this effect and 19 produced no evidence to suggest that Thor acted with discriminatory intent. 20 21 22 This claim against Thor is DISMISSED. 5. Unreasonable Search and Seizure Brunner also alleges violations of her right “to be free from unreasonable search and 23 seizure.” (Dkt. No. 1 at 13.) The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches 24 and seizures of “their persons, houses, papers, and effects.” U.S. CONST. amend. IV. “[A]n 25 unreasonable search occurs when the intrusion violates both the subject’s subjective and 26 society’s objective expectations of privacy.” United States v. John, 2014 WL 2863661 at *7 (D. ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT PAGE - 7 1 Ariz. June 24, 2014) (citing Katz, 389 U.S. 347). An unreasonable seizure occurs “only when, by 2 means of physical force or a show of authority, [the] freedom of movement is restrained.” United 3 States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544, 553 (1980). 4 Brunner alleges that she was the victim of an unreasonable search when Thor accessed 5 her information and compiled a dossier on her. (Dkt. No. 77 at 12.) However, as has been 6 discussed repeatedly, Brunner fails to show that Thor did so under the color of law. Because he 7 was not a state actor, Thor cannot be held liable under § 1983 for this behavior. 8 Brunner also argues that she was subjected to an unreasonable seizure when Thor 9 arranged for the Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies to show up at her townhouse.5 (Dkt. No. 1 at 9- 10 10.) There is no direct evidence that Thor orchestrated this incident; however, given that the 11 Court views the evidence in a light most favorable to Brunner, one could conclude from the 12 circumstantial evidence that Thor was somehow involved. Importantly, though, there is again no 13 evidence that Thor was acting under color of state law at the time. Under Brunner’s version of 14 the facts, Thor sent a friend of his, who worked at a different law enforcement agency, to harass 15 Brunner under the guise of responding to a fake distress call. While this is disturbing behavior— 16 and a clear abuse of Thor’s access to law enforcement resources—there is no showing that Thor 17 was “acting within his scope of employment.” See Van Ort, 92 F.3d at 835. Rather, Thor was 18 acting “in the ambit of [his] personal pursuits,” which, although wholly inappropriate, was “not 19 state action.” See id. at 835-36 (internal quotes omitted). 20 This claim against Thor is DISMISSED. 21 22 23 6. Excessive Force Brunner alleges that Thor violated her “right to be free from police use and threat of excessive force.” (Dkt. No. 1 at 13.) Under the Fourth Amendment, a person has the right to be 24 5 25 26 In her complaint, Brunner also alleged that Thor had a Seattle Police Officer follow her home and block her in the driveway as he shouted at her for speeding. (Dkt. No. 1 at 8.) She appears to have abandoned this claim on summary judgment. (See generally Dkt. No. 75; see also Dkt. No. 77 at 12.) ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT PAGE - 8 1 free from excessive force. U.S. CONST. amend. IV. However, Brunner does not provide any more 2 specific allegations or evidence regarding the actual use or threat of excessive force she allegedly 3 experienced. Thus, this claim cannot survive summary judgment. 4 This claim against Thor is DISMISSED. 5 7. Supervisory Liability/Monell 6 Brunner alleges that Chief Lorentzen and the Department are liable under § 1983 for their 7 role in supervising Thor. (Dkt. No. 1 at 14-15; Dkt. No. 77 at 13.) As noted above, § 1983 8 liability generally arises only upon a showing of a defendant’s personal participation. Taylor, 9 880 F.2d at 1045. However, a supervisor is liable for the constitutional violations of subordinates 10 “if the supervisor participated in or directed the violations, or knew of the violations and failed to 11 act to prevent them.” Id. A governing body can be sued under § 1983 where the challenged 12 action “implements or executes a policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially 13 adopted and promulgated by that body’s officers.” Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs. of City of N.Y., 14 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978). Brunner identifies no role in—or even knowledge of—Thor’s actions by Chief Lorentzen 15 16 or other Department employees. Brunner thus fails to make a valid supervisory liability claim. 17 As to her Monell claim, Brunner does not assert that Thor acted pursuant to a Department 18 policy or practice. (See Dkt. No. 77 at 13-15.) Instead, Brunner alleges that the Department 19 should be held liable for its “failure to supervise to prevent its officers from violating its 20 policies.” (Dkt. No. 77 at 14.) As support, she reasons that 21 Lake Stevens has found it necessary to enact a policy wherein new officers are warned that they cannot misuse the law enforcement database that they are given access to as part of the job, indicating a likelihood of past problems, or at least a realization that problems may likely occur, and yet the Department took no steps to monitor their officer’s use and frequency of use of the databases to determine whether there were any indications of misuse. 22 23 24 25 (Id.) 26 ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT PAGE - 9 1 To make out a § 1983 claim for failure to supervise, a plaintiff must “demonstrate that the 2 municipal action was taken with ‘deliberate indifference’ as to its known or obvious 3 consequences. A showing of simple or even heightened negligence will not suffice.” Bd. of Cnty. 4 Comm’rs of Bryan Cnty., Okla. v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 407 (1997) (quoting City of Canton, 5 Ohio v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 388 (1989)); see also Davis v. City of Ellensburg, 869 F.2d 1230, 6 1235 (9th Cir. 1989) (analyzing failure to supervise under the same standard as failure to train). 7 Brunner has only questionably made out a claim of negligence on the Department’s 8 behalf. She does not come close to showing—or even alleging—that the Department acted with 9 deliberate indifference. 10 The § 1983 claims against Chief Lorentzen and the Department are DISMISSED. 11 C. 12 Brunner further asserts that Defendants violated her right to privacy under the Washington Constitution 13 Washington Constitution. (Dkt. No. 1 at 15-16.) Article I, section 7 states that “[n]o person shall 14 be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law.” WASH. CONST. 15 art. I, § 7. However, “Washington courts have consistently rejected invitations to establish a 16 cause of action for damages based upon constitutional violations without the aid of augmentative 17 legislation.” Blinka v. Wash. State Bar Ass’n, 36 P.3d 1094, 1102 (Wash. Ct. App. 2001) 18 (internal quotes omitted); see also Reid v. Pierce Cty., 961 P.2d 333, 343 (Wash. 1998) 19 (declining to consider whether a constitutional cause of action should be established). 20 Brunner’s Washington constitutional claim is DISMISSED. 21 D. 22 Brunner further asserts that Defendants were negligent in their actions towards her. (Dkt. Negligence 23 No. 1 at 16-17.) To establish a cause of action for negligence, a plaintiff must demonstrate that 24 (1) the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, (2) the defendant breached that duty, (3) damages 25 resulted, and (4) the defendant’s breach proximately caused the damages. Tincani v. Inland 26 Empire Zoological Soc’y, 875 P.2d 621, 624 (Wash. 1994). ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT PAGE - 10 1 Brunner asserts that Defendants owed her “a duty to use due care, and to ensure the 2 protection of her safety and privacy, from themselves, and from their fellow officers at all 3 times.” (Dkt. No. 1 at 17.) But, “[u]nder the public duty doctrine, no liability may be imposed for 4 a public official’s negligent conduct unless it is shown that the duty breached was owed to the 5 injured person as an individual and was not merely the breach of an obligation owed to the 6 public in general (i.e., a duty to all is a duty to no one).” Cummins v. Lewis Cty., 133 P.3d 458, 7 461 (Wash. 2006) (internal quotes omitted). Brunner has identified no particular duty owed to 8 her as an individual. 9 Brunner’s negligence claim is DISMISSED. 10 E. Assault and Battery 11 Brunner also alleges that Thor committed assault and battery. (Dkt. No. 1 at 17.) Battery 12 is a “harmful or offensive contact with a person, resulting from an act intended to cause the 13 plaintiff or a third person to suffer such a contact, or apprehension that such a contact is 14 imminent.” McKinney v. City of Tukwila, 13 P.3d 631, 641 (Wash. Ct. App. 2000). Assault is 15 any act of such a nature that causes apprehension of battery. Id. 16 In her complaint, Brunner alleges that Thor “physically batter[ed] and threaten[ed] her, 17 including threatening her with his service weapon to induce compliance with his wishes.” (Dkt. 18 No. 1 at 17.) However, she does not address this claim on summary judgment or provide any 19 evidence that Thor physically battered her. 20 Instead, Brunner argues that Thor committed assault and battery by cyberstalking her. 21 (Dkt. No. 75 at 3.) Brunner alleges that cyberstalking is tantamount to assault as it causes one to 22 “fear an imminent harmful and offensive touching.” (Dkt. No. 75 at 3.) In support, Brunner cites 23 the Washington statute on stalking. (Id. at 13.) Under Washington law, cyberstalking is a crime 24 separate and distinct from the crime of stalking.6 Compare Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.46.110 with 25 26 6 Although the two crimes have similarities, they are not identical. For example, stalking—like assault—requires the victim to have experienced a feeling of apprehension. Wash. ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT PAGE - 11 1 Wash. Rev. Code § 9.61.260(2). Regardless, neither statute provides for a private cause of 2 action. Moreover, the evidence demonstrates that Brunner was unaware of Thor’s cyberstalking 3 behavior at the time it occurred. Without evidence that Thor battered her or caused her 4 apprehension that he would do so, this claim cannot survive summary judgment. 5 Brunner’s assault and battery claim is DISMISSED. 6 F. 7 Finally, Brunner asserts that Thor’s false statements about himself constitute fraud and Fraud and Misrepresentation 8 misrepresentation. (Dkt. No. 75 at 14.) Under Washington law, a valid fraud claim has nine 9 elements: 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 (1) representation of an existing fact; (2) materiality; (3) falsity; (4) the speaker’s knowledge of its falsity; (5) intent of the speaker that it should be acted upon by the plaintiff; (6) plaintiff’s ignorance of its falsity; (7) plaintiff’s reliance on the truth of the representation; (8) plaintiff’s right to rely upon it; and (9) damages suffered by the plaintiff. Stieneke v. Russi, 190 P.3d 60, 69 (Wash. Ct. App. 2008). Fraud and misrepresentation claims most commonly arise out of business relationships. See, e.g., Alejandre v. Bull, 153 P.3d 864, 865 (Wash. 2007) (real property sale); Stieneke, 190 P.3d at 64 (same). Here, by contrast, the false statements were of a personal nature, between two people involved in a romantic relationship. It would be quite significant for the Court to find that a person could be held legally responsible for interpersonal statements, and Brunner cites no authority to suggest that such liability exists. By way of analogy, in the context of negligence, Washington courts have found no legal duty of honest disclosure between spouses. See In re Marriage of J.T., 891 P.2d 729, 732 (Wash. Ct. App. 1995). The Court finds this holding indicative of the Washington courts’ approach to legal liability in romantic relationships and applies Marriage of J.T. by analogy. Brunner’s fraud and misrepresentation claim is DISMISSED. 25 26 Rev. Code § 9A.46.110(1)(b); McKinney, 13 P.3d at 641. Cyberstalking does not. See Wash. Rev. Code § 9.61.206(1). ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT PAGE - 12 1 2 III. CONCLUSION Thor’s conduct was deeply troubling. The Court appreciates how traumatic this 3 experience must have been for Brunner. However, the Court is bound to apply the law as written, 4 and the legal claims made here cannot be maintained. The motions for summary judgment (Dkt. 5 Nos. 56, 58) are GRANTED. Brunner’s claims are DISMISSED in their entirety. 6 7 8 Given this outcome, Brunner’s pending motion to continue trial (Dkt. No. 84) is MOOT. The Clerk is DIRECTED to close this case. DATED this 21st day of March, 2017. 9 12 A 13 John C. Coughenour UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 10 11 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT PAGE - 13

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