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Case Name Hooper v. Seattle PN-WA-0006
Docket / Court 2:17-cv-00077-RSM ( W.D. Wash. )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Attorney Organization ACLU Affiliates (any)
Case Summary
This case deals with the legality of seizing the property of unhoused individuals by the city of Seattle, Washington without adequate notice.

The plaintiffs - initially consisting of two individuals, the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, and the organization Real Change - filed this lawsuit ... read more >
This case deals with the legality of seizing the property of unhoused individuals by the city of Seattle, Washington without adequate notice.

The plaintiffs - initially consisting of two individuals, the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, and the organization Real Change - filed this lawsuit on January 19, 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. Represented by the ACLU of Washington and private counsel, the plaintiffs sued the City of Seattle, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), and the Secretary of Transportation for WSDOT under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Article 1, § 7 and Article 1, § 3 of the Washington Constitution, and the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, on their policy of “sweeping.” The City rules governing the sweeps were promulgated as the Multi-Departmental Administrative Rules 08-01 (MDARs), while WSDOT adopted the Guidelines to Address Illegal Encampments. The plaintiffs claimed that the practice of sweeping seized or destroyed their property without adequate notice, an opportunity to be heard, or a meaningful remedy to reclaim undestroyed property. The plaintiffs sought class certification, declaratory relief that federal and state constitutions forbid the policies of defendants, injunctive relief forbidding sweeps until constitutionally respective procedures are adopted, and attorney fees. The District Court assigned the case to Judge Ricardo Martinez.

In the complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that the policies of the City violated protections from unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment, right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment, the right to protection from invasion of home under the Washington State Constitution, and the right to due process under the Washington State Constitution. The City viewed the policies themselves, also referred to as “cleanups,” as necessary for public health and safety. In contrast, the plaintiffs contended that the policy of the City violated constitutional notice requirements for the residents of these encampments and others who lacked a permanent home. Furthermore, the plaintiffs alleged that items the City of Seattle viewed as “garbage” were in fact constitutionally protected property, thus requiring both due process protections and recovery protections.

A day after filing the complaint, the plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification. The proposed class included all unhoused persons who lived outside within the City of Seattle and who keep their belongings on public property.

On February 6, 2017, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the practice of sweeping. Judge Martinez denied the motion for the TRO on February 14, 2017, finding that the plaintiffs inadequately satisfied their burdens of success on the merits and irreparable harm, but allowed the plaintiffs' concurrent but unfiled motion for a preliminary injunction to proceed. 2017 WL 591112.

The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on March 2, 2017, adding another individual and the Trinity Parish of Seattle as plaintiffs. In response, the City of Seattle filed a counterclaim on March 16, 2017, seeking a declaratory judgment that the City’s newly adopted MDARs was sufficiently constitutional. The new MDARs was set to go into effect on April 2, 2017. The plaintiffs then filed a second amended complaint on May 23, 2017, adding an additional individual plaintiff.

The plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on June 14, 2017. Reviewing the motions for preliminary injunction and class certification in tandem, Judge Martinez denied both motions on October 4, 2017. 2017 WL 4410029. Judge Martinez denied the class certification because the plaintiffs failed to establish commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation. Judge Martinez denied the preliminary injunction because he found plaintiffs failed to demonstrate irreparable harm because speculative injuries are not immediate, threatened injury. Judge Martinez found that the balance of equities and the validity of the public interest weighed in favor of defendants because the speculative claims of plaintiffs did not outweigh the defendants' interest in maintaining public property free of items that may pose a threat to citizens.

On January 23, 2018, the plaintiffs appealed the denial of the class certification to the Ninth Circuit. Judge Sandra Ikuta, Judge Morgan Christen, and Judge Jennifer Choe-Groves heard the case. The panel affirmed the denial of class certification on November 29, 2019, finding the lack of sufficient evidence and commonality dispositive enough to warrant the District Court’s denial of the class certification. 943 F.3d 882. Concurring in part and dissenting in part, Judge Christen found that the plaintiffs presented distinct facial challenges to the cleanup policies.

With the Ninth Circuit finding no abuse of discretion by the District Court, the City of Seattle filed a motion to convert the preliminary injunction into a final judgment on the merits on March 5, 2020. The plaintiffs responded on March 12, 2020, by filing a motion to voluntarily dismiss their claims and the City’s counterclaim. On June 11, 2020, Judge Martinez denied the City’s motion for conversion and granted the plaintiff’s motion to dismiss without prejudice. 2020 WL 3100855. This case is closed.

Andrew Pierce - 10/28/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Non-profit religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) Seattle, Washington
Secretary of Transportation for Washington Department of Transportation
Washington State Department of Transportation
Plaintiff Description Homeless individuals in Seattle, Washington, the episcopal diocese of Olympia, Real Change.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Filed 01/19/2017
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Court Docket(s)
W.D. Wash.
06/11/2020
2:17-cv-00077
PN-WA-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
W.D. Wash.
01/19/2017
Complaint - Class Action for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PN-WA-0006-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
02/14/2017
Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 65] (2017 WL 591112)
PN-WA-0006-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
03/16/2017
Defendant City of Seattle's Answer, Affirmative Defenses, and Counterclaim to Amended Complaint [ECF# 75]
PN-WA-0006-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
05/23/2017
Second Amended Complaint - Class Action for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 87]
PN-WA-0006-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
10/04/2018
Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification and Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 209] (2017 WL 4410029)
PN-WA-0006-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
U.S. Court of Appeals
11/29/2019
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 224] (943 F.3d 882)
PN-WA-0006-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
06/11/2020
Order Denying Defendant's Motion for Final Judgment on the Merits and Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Voluntary Dismissal [ECF# 242] (2020 WL 3100855)
PN-WA-0006-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Groves, Jennifer Choe () show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-0002
Martinez, Ricardo S. (W.D. Wash.) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-0001 | PN-WA-0006-0005 | PN-WA-0006-0007 | PN-WA-0006-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Chiang, Emily (Washington) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-0003 | PN-WA-0006-0004 | PN-WA-0006-9000
Lindberg, Eric A. (Washington) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-0003 | PN-WA-0006-9000
Marks-Dias, Blake Edward (Washington) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-0003 | PN-WA-0006-9000
Nowlin, Lisa (Washington) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-9000
Schuster, Breanne (Washington) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-0003 | PN-WA-0006-0004 | PN-WA-0006-9000
Talner, Nancy Lynn (Washington) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-0003 | PN-WA-0006-0004 | PN-WA-0006-9000
Williams, Todd T. (Washington) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-0003 | PN-WA-0006-0004 | PN-WA-0006-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Downs, Patrick (Washington) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-0006 | PN-WA-0006-9000
Flevaris, Taki V (Washington) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-0006 | PN-WA-0006-9000
Huot, Matthew D. (Washington) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-9000
Myerberg, Andrew Thomas (Washington) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-0006 | PN-WA-0006-9000
Narver, Gregory Colin (Washington) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-0006 | PN-WA-0006-9000
Segal, Matthew J. (Washington) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-0006 | PN-WA-0006-9000
Seu, Carlton W.M. (Washington) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-0006 | PN-WA-0006-9000
Smith, Gary T. (Washington) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-0006 | PN-WA-0006-9000
Wong, Gregory J. (Washington) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-0006 | PN-WA-0006-9000
Young, Alicia O (Washington) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-9000
Other Lawyers Bauman, Tristia (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-9000
Biancamano, John D. (New York) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-9000
Falls, Craig G (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-9000
Shaeffer, Joseph R. (Washington) show/hide docs
PN-WA-0006-9000

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