Sassen Vanelsoo v. Rogers et al

Filing 31

ORDER signed by Judge Benjamin H. Settle granting 27 Motion for Extension of Time; 19 MOTION for Summary Judgment: Noting Date 9/29/2017.**6 PAGE(S), PRINT ALL**(Adrian Sassen Vanelsoo, Prisoner ID: 837829)(TG)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT TACOMA 5 6 ADRIAN G. SASSEN VANELSOO, CASE NO. C16-5574 BHS 7 Plaintiff, 8 9 v. RONALD ROGERS, et al., Defendants. 10 ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S REQUEST FOR EXTENSION AND RENOTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 11 12 This matter comes before the Court on the motion for summary judgment of 13 Defendants Ronald Rogers, C. Stephen Sutton, Susan German, and Shirley Kennedy. 14 Dkt. 19. Also before the Court is Plaintiff Adrian G. Sassen Vanelsoo’s motion to extend 15 the deadline for his response. Dkt. 27. The Court has considered the pleadings filed in 16 support of and in opposition to the motions and the remainder of the file and, for the 17 reasons stated below, hereby (1) grants Plaintiff’s request for an extension, and (2) 18 renotes the motion for summary judgment. I. 19 20 PROCEDURAL HISTORY Plaintiff commenced this action on June 29, 2016. Dkt. 1. Plaintiff claims that 21 Defendants violated his right to due process when they completed forfeiture proceedings 22 in 2012 on money seized from Plaintiff. See Dkt. 5. ORDER - 1 1 On August 2, 2017, Defendants moved for summary judgment. Dkt. 19. On 2 August 17, 2017, Plaintiff moved to extend the deadline for his response to September 3 25, 2017. Dkt. 27. 4 Defendants have responded to Plaintiff’s request in non-opposition. Dkt. 29. 5 However, Defendants request that if the extension be granted, the Court also extend the 6 trial date and impending pretrial deadlines. Id. 7 II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND 8 On July 23, 2012, Defendant Rogers arrived at the scene of an accident and 9 observed Plaintiff attempting to hide two bags. Dkt. 21. Rogers discovered and seized the 10 two bags which contained a significant quantity of cash and pills. Id. Rogers arrested 11 Plaintiff because he believed that Plaintiff had been in an accident while driving under 12 the influence of alcohol or drugs. Dkt. 21. 13 After the arrest, Rogers informed Plaintiff of his rights and Plaintiff volunteered 14 information, including his telephone number and then current address: 2614 46th Street, 15 Bellingham, Washington 98229. Dkt. 21; Dkt. 22 at 2. The address was included on the 16 police report filed subsequent to Plaintiff’s arrest and was the same address listed on 17 Plaintiff’s license. Dkt. 22 at 2. 18 On July 24, 2012, Plaintiff contacted Defendants to request a hearing to contest 19 the seizure of the cash. Dkt. 20-1 at 3. Defendants informed Plaintiff that “they were in 20 the early stages of receiving/reviewing [the] police report” of the events on which the 21 seizure was based. Id. 22 ORDER - 2 1 On August 6, 2012, Defendant German prepared and sent to Plaintiff a letter via 2 certified mail informing him that he had until September 20, 2012, to request a hearing in 3 writing or the seized assets would be deemed forfeited. Dkt. 22 at 2; Dkt. 22-1. The letter 4 was sent to the address provided by plaintiff at the time of his arrest which matched the 5 address on his license. Dkt. 22 at 2. The letter was received at the address and a signed 6 receipt was returned to Defendants. Id.; Dkt. 22-2. Plaintiff never responded to the 7 August 6 letter. Dkt. 22 at 3. 8 On October 26, 2012, German prepared and sent a second letter via first class mail 9 informing Plaintiff of his failure to respond to the August 6 letter. Id. at 2; Dkt. 22-3. The 10 letter informed Plaintiff that his failure to request a hearing would result in the forfeiture 11 of the seized property. Dkt. 22-3. The letter also included German’s number and 12 informed Plaintiff that he could contact her with any questions. Id. Plaintiff never 13 responded to the October 26 letter. Dkt. 22 at 3. On October 30, 2012, German created an 14 invoice voucher to transfer the seized funds to the state patrol’s local account authorized 15 under RCW 43.88.195. Dkt. 22-4. 16 Plaintiff claims that on August 3, 2013, he contacted Defendants “seeking the 17 return of money in the amount of $4,195.00 dollars seized by defendant Rogers.” Dkt. 5 18 at 3. Plaintiff also claims that on August 15, 2013, Whatcom County Superior Court 19 ordered that Defendants return the money to Plaintiff in connection with the dismissal of 20 criminal charges that were filed against him. Id. at 3–4. Plaintiff states that both he and 21 his mother have contacted each of the Defendants seeking the return of the money. Id. at 22 4. While these allegations are taken directly from Plaintiff’s complaint and are not ORDER - 3 1 supported by separate signed declarations, the complaint was signed with a verification 2 stating under penalty of perjury that the factual assertions therein were true. Dkt. 5 at 6. 3 4 III. DISCUSSION The statute of limitations period for § 1983 actions is “a State’s personal injury 5 statute of limitations.” Owens v. Okure, 488 U.S. 235, 240–41 (1989). Pursuant to RCW 6 4.16.080(2), the period of limitations in this case is three years. RK Ventures, Inc. v. City 7 of Seattle, 307 F.3d 1045, 1058 (9th Cir. 2002). While state law determines the length of 8 the limitations period, federal law determines when a claim accrues. Western Ctr. for 9 Journalism v. Cederquist, 235 F.3d 1153, 1156 (9th Cir. 2000). “[I]t is the standard rule 10 that accrual occurs when the plaintiff has a complete and present cause of action.” 11 Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 388 (2007) (internal quotation marks omitted). “Under 12 the traditional rule of accrual the tort cause of action accrues, and the statute of 13 limitations commences to run, when the wrongful act or omission results in damages.” Id. 14 at 391 (internal quotation marks and edits omitted). 15 In early August, 2012, Plaintiff was informed that his assets would be forfeited if 16 he did not request a hearing in writing to contest the forfeiture. When Plaintiff failed to 17 request a hearing in writing, he was then informed of his default and the resultant 18 forfeiture of his assets in yet another letter. The forfeiture occurred without a hearing by 19 October 30, 2012. There does not appear to be any genuine dispute over the facts that 20 Plaintiff’s injury occurred on or before October 30, 2012, and that Plaintiff had 21 knowledge of his injury at that time. Therefore, it appears that Plaintiff failed to bring his 22 ORDER - 4 1 action within the three-year period of limitations because Plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit 2 on June 29, 2016. See Dkt. 1. 3 While Plaintiff has requested an extension to file a response to Defendants’ motion 4 for summary judgment, it seems unlikely—from the exhibits attached to Defendants’ 5 motion as well as from Plaintiff’s own pleadings—that a response would affect the 6 undisputed facts supporting a conclusion that the action is barred by the statute of 7 limitations. Nonetheless, Plaintiff’s request offers good cause for a short extension due to 8 the law librarian’s absence, and his inability to access the law library where he is 9 incarcerated. Accordingly, the Court will grant Plaintiff’s request for an extension of his 10 deadline to respond to summary judgment. While the Court’s discussion today addresses 11 only Defendants’ arguments regarding the statute of limitations, Plaintiff’s response 12 should address all three of Defendants’ arguments, including: (1) that the action is barred 13 by the statute of limitations, (2) that Plaintiff allegedly failed to exhaust administrative 14 remedies, and (3) that Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. 15 The Court also notes that Defendants have requested to extend the trial date and 16 pretrial deadlines should the Court grant Plaintiff’s motion for an extension. This request 17 is denied. Defendants have failed to articulate how an extension would prejudice their 18 ability to meet the current deadlines or prepare a defense. The Court will still be able to 19 rule on Defendants’ motion prior to trial. 20 IV. ORDER 21 Therefore, it is hereby ORDERED that Plaintiff’s motion for an extension (Dkt. 22 27) is GRANTED. Plaintiff’s response shall be filed no later than September 25, 2017. ORDER - 5 1 Defendants may file a reply no later than September 29, 2017. The motion for summary 2 judgment (Dkt. 19) is RENOTED for consideration on September 29, 2017. 3 Dated this 19th day of September, 2017. A 4 5 BENJAMIN H. SETTLE United States District Judge 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 ORDER - 6

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