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Thomsen v. Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District

February 24, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Frank C. Damrell, Jr. United States District Judge


This matter is before the court on defendants Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District (the "District"), Greg Grenados, and Matt Kelly's motions to dismiss plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).*fn1 Plaintiff Mark Thomsen ("plaintiff") opposes the motions. For the reasons set forth below,*fn2 defendants' motions to dismiss are GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.


At all relevant times, plaintiff was employed by the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, which operates in the County of Sacramento. (Pls.' 3d Am. Compl. ("TAC"), filed Nov. 4, 2009, [Docket # 26], ¶ 1.) In February 2006, Fire Chief Don Mette ("Mette") assigned him to the District's Special Investigations Unit. (Id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff claims that in this capacity he worked under the District's General Counsel Dick Margarita ("Margarita"), assisted with personnel investigations, and conducted background checks on persons seeking employment with the District. (Id.)

In late September 2006, plaintiff received an email from a previous female employee (the "former employee") stating that she had been wrongfully terminated. (Id. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff alleges that Margarita instructed him to contact the former employee and have her discuss the matter with Margarita, plaintiff, and Pat Monahan ("Monahan"). (Id.) Plaintiff claims that as a result of this investigation, Mette advised the District's Board of Directors (the "Board") to approve a settlement with the former employee. (Id.) Around September 28, 2006, plaintiff claims he was asked to attend a late-night meeting at which he was advised to keep silent on the issue. (Id. ¶ 16.) Plaintiff further claims that around the time of the meeting, Mette accused him of discussing the former employee's complaint with others and ordered him to keep the issue secret. (Id. ¶ 18.)

Within a few days of the meeting, plaintiff was removed from the Special Investigations Unit, allegedly because he had violated Mette's order not to discuss the former employee's complaint. (Id. ¶ 19.) Around October or November 2006, plaintiff met with the Board to discuss his concern that the former employee's case was not properly investigated. (Id. ¶ 21.) Plaintiff made inquiries as to why the former employee's complaint had not resulted in an outside investigation. (Id. ¶ 23.)

On December 2, 2006, plaintiff alleges he was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into an allegation that he had committed a felony by altering a patient's report. (Id. ¶ 24.) Plaintiff contends that he was put on leave as a result of his investigation into the former employee's situation. (Id. ¶ 25.) While on administrative leave, plaintiff was asked to attend a meeting on December 14, 2006, with the President and Vice President of the Local 522 Union (the "Union"). (Id. ¶ 28.) Plaintiff claims that during the meeting he was told he would be fired if he continued to ask questions about the former employee and continued to "push" with regard to his pending disciplinary case. (Id.)

On December 31, 2006, an article appeared in the Sacramento Bee, reporting that Margarita had signed an affidavit in a superior court action, alleging that plaintiff had committed a felony by materially altering a public report. (Id. ¶ 29.)

Plaintiff claims he had not received a Notice of Intent to Discipline at this time, and as far as he knew, an investigation of the alleged felony had never been completed. (Id.)

On January 2, 2007, plaintiff retained counsel to protect his interests. (Id. ¶ 30.) Around the same time, plaintiff claims his counsel notified every Board member of their duties to plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 31.) Plaintiff also alleges he and his counsel requested the right to speak about the investigation to the Board, but the Board, through Mr. Kelly, was non-responsive and failed to place the issue on the Board's agenda. (Id.)

Plaintiff also sent a confidential letter to the Board, indicating his suspicions of a cover-up by Mette, Margarita, Chavez, Monahan, and Rice. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Greg Grenados ("Grenados") breached plaintiff's confidence by informing Mette and Margarita of plaintiff's suspicions regarding the investigation and circumstances surrounding his alleged felony. (Id.)

Subsequently, plaintiff notified the Attorney General about the District's lack of investigation into the former employee's situation. (Id. ¶ 32.) Plaintiff claims that on or about January 17, 2007, four to six armed men knocked forcefully on his residential door. (Id. ¶ 33.) Plaintiff alleges these armed men were employed by the District and were directed by Margarita and/or Mette to instill terror on plaintiff's family. (Id.)

On February 14, 2007, plaintiff was advised of the District's intent to dismiss him. (Id. ¶ 34.) On Friday, March 23, 2007, plaintiff and his counsel attended a pre-disciplinary hearing, conducted by Deputy Chief Geoffrey Miller. (Id. ¶ 35.)

Plaintiff and his attorney gave Deputy Chief Miller a twelve page letter with six attachments, all of which allegedly demonstrated that plaintiff's termination was unsupported by facts or law. (Id.) Plaintiff claims that Mette and Margarita ignored his letter, and notified him through a letter ...

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