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Squaglia v. Mascitto

March 16, 2005


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joseph C. Spero United States Magistrate Judge



Plaintiff, a former employee of Safeway, is asserting claims for intentional interference with economic advantage, slander, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress against his former supervisor, store manager Joe Mascitto. In his Motion for Summary Judgment (the "Motion"), Defendant seeks an order granting summary judgment in his favor on all four claims. A hearing was held on Friday, March 11, 2005, at 1:30 p.m. For the reasons stated below, the Motion is GRANTED as to Plaintiff's federal claims, which are dismissed with prejudice. Plaintiff's remaining claims shall be remanded to California State Court for disposition.


A. Facts*fn1

Plaintiff Ronald Squaglia worked at the Noriega Safeway Store (the "Noriega Safeway") from 1998 or 1999 until March 1, 2003. Declaration of Ronald Squaglia ("Squaglia Decl.," ¶ 3). Within a few months of the commencement of his employment with Safeway, Squaglia became a member of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 648 (the "Union" or "Local 648"). Declaration of Mark J. Rogers in Support of Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment ("Rogers Decl."), Ex. A (Deposition of Ronald Squalia ("Squaglia Depo.")) at 44. As such, the terms of Squaglia's employment were governed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between Safeway and Local 648, and by Safeway Store Rules. Declaration of Penny Schumacher in Support of Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment ("Schumacher Decl.") at ¶ 2 & Ex. A (Collective Bargaining Agreement), Ex. B (Store Rules).

In July 2002, Defendant Joe Mascitto became the store manager of the Noriega Safeway. Declaration of Joe Mascitto in Support of His Motion for Summary Judgment ("Macitto Decl.") at ¶ 2. In the fall of 2002, Mascitto transferred Squaglia from his position as a food clerk to the produce department. Id. at ¶¶ 2, 8.

On January 30, 2003, Mascitto issued a written warning to Squaglia for clocking in late on January 23 and 26 and failing to show up for his shift on January 29, 2003. Mascitto Decl., Ex. B (1/30/03 Employee Warning Notice). On February 4, 2003, Mascitto issued another written warning to Squaglia for failing to show up for his scheduled shift on February 2, 2003, suspending Squaglia without pay for three work days. Mascitto Decl., Ex. C (2/4/03 Employee Warning Notice).

Sometime in late February, 2003,*fn2 Squaglia and Mascitto had an encounter that Squaglia has characterized as "violent." Squaglia Decl., ¶ 9. According to Squaglia, the encounter began when Mascitto "scream[ed] at the top of his lungs" "'what the hell have you been doing the last four hours.'" Squaglia Decl., ¶ 8. Mascitto then told Squaglia to come to the back room. Id. Squaglia describes the confrontation in the back room as follows:

When I got to the back room the defendant walked through a wall of boxes on my dolly; all the while he was kicking boxes, he stepped over the dolly and stood within 1/2 inch of my face. It was a violent confrontation, the defendant screaming at the top of his lungs, his veins were bulging through his neck and his fists were clenched and aimed at me. I was told that the defendant used to fight either professionally or as amateur and was capable of causing injury. I was fearful of imminent attack.

Id. According to Squaglia, when he told Mascitto that he was going to complain to the Union, Mascitto told him "point blank" that he would "retaliate against [Squaglia] and make [his] life miserable." Id., ¶ 10.

Mascitto, on the other hand, describes the encounter quite differently. According to Mascitto, Squaglia became agitated when Mascitto asked him about an empty grape bin in the produce department. Mascitto Decl., ¶ 17. Mascitto states in his declaration that Squaglia told him in a loud voice that Tom Warren, the produce department manager, was not doing his share of work. Id. When Squaglia became more agitated, Mascitto asked him to come to the back room to discuss the matter further. Id. While Mascitto loaded a dolly with grapes, he states, Squaglia continued to complain about Warren and said he was going to complain to the Union about the situation. Id. Mascitto told Squaglia that he was free to complain to the Union and Squaglia left to fill the grape bins. Id. Mascitto testified in his deposition that he was an amateur boxer. Opposition, Ex. 18 (Mascitto Depo.) at 71.

No grievance was filed on Squaglia's behalf based on this incident. See Schumacher Decl., ¶ 4. However, Squaglia called his Union representative, Michael Sharpe, who met with Squaglia and Mascitto to discuss the incident. Supplemental Declaration of Ronald Squaglia ("Squaglia Supp. Decl."), ¶ 2. Mascitto confirms in his declaration that a meeting with Mike Sharpe occurred soon after the confrontation discussed above. Mascitto Decl., ¶ 18. According to Mascitto, Squaglia, Mascitto and Sharpe met on February 24 to discuss Squaglia's position at the Noriega Safeway and Mascitto said he had no problem with moving Squaglia out of the produce department. Id. Mascitto further states that at the time of the February 24, 2003 meeting, he was unaware that Squaglia had clocked in late on February 19 and 23, 2003. Id. When he became aware of these infractions, Mascitto states, he instructed assistant manager Toomey to "discipline Mr. Squaglia appropriately in light of Mr. Squaglia's recent suspension and documented history of time and attendance violations." Id. On March 1, 2003, Squaglia was suspended indefinitely for clocking in late on February 19, 2003, and February 23, 2003. Rogers Decl., Ex. A (Squaglia Depo.), Ex. K thereto.

On March 4, 2003, Mascitto's car was stolen from his home. Mascitto Decl., ¶ 21. In August 2003, Mascitto's new car was vandalized while parked in the Noriega Safeway parking lot. Id. Sometime thereafter,*fn3 Barbara Goodrich, a floral department manager, told Mascitto that Squaglia had given her a ride home after he stopped working at the Noriega Safeway and that while driving Squaglia told her he had stolen Mascitto's car. Id., ¶ 22. According to Mascitto, he passed this information on to two of his assistant managers, John Toomey and Bill Knutson. Id. at ¶ 23. Mascitto states in his declaration that he told Toomey because Toomey's car had recently been ...

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