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Takahashi v. Farmers Insurance Group

March 9, 2010

MITSUE TAKAHASHI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FARMERS INSURANCE GROUP -- MERCED THROUGH XX, INCLUSIVE, OFFICE, INDIVIDUALS AND DOES 1 DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER RE: DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, MOTION FOR A MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the court is a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, a motion for a more definite statement filed by Defendant Farmers Insurance Exchange ("Farmers") erroneously sued as Farmers Insurance Group -- Merced Office. The motion is directed at all claims asserted in Plaintiff Mitsue Takahashi's pro se complaint. (Doc. 1.) The following background facts are taken from the complaint and the parties' submissions in connection with the motion.

II. BACKGROUND

In the early 1990's, Plaintiff filed and litigated a lawsuit against Farmers concerning her termination from employment, and several events leading up to her termination. In that case, she alleged various state law employment claims. That lawsuit resulted in a judgment of non-suit in favor of Farmers. Years later, Plaintiff filed this federal lawsuit, this time asserting federal employment claims arising out of the same circumstances.

A. The 1991 Lawsuit

Previously, Plaintiff filed a state court lawsuit against Farmers in Merced County Superior Court which both parties refer to in the briefing as the "1991 lawsuit." As alleged in the Third Amended Complaint ("TAC") filed September 23, 1993, the lawsuit included claims (i) for race, sex, ancestry and age discrimination in violation of California's Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"), California Government Code § 12940; (ii) retaliation in violation of FEHA; (iii) intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED"); (iv) breach of contract; (v) breach of an implied in fact contract of employment; (vi) wrongful termination in violation of public policy; and (vii) and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.*fn1

In the TAC, Plaintiff claimed that her termination violated FEHA and contravened California public policy. The TAC also alleged discrimination in certain actions leading up to her termination, such as denying her promotions into upgraded positions.

In an order dated December 8, 1993, the Superior Court granted in part and denied in part Farmers's motion for summary judgment or, in the alternative, summary adjudication. (Doc. 6, Ex. B.) The Superior Court determined that the IIED claim was preempted by California's Workers' Compensation Act and granted summary adjudication on this claim. Otherwise, the remainder of the motion was denied.

Later, at trial, the Superior Court granted a judgment of non-suit in favor of Farmers, entered December 14, 1994. (Doc. 6, Ex. C.; see also Doc. 6, Ex. D at 2.) The order granting the non-suit indicates, among other things, that, at trial, Plaintiff failed to carry her burden on her claim for discrimination under FEHA, failed to carry her burden on her claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy, failed to show a causal connection between protected activity and her termination from employment (precluding her FEHA retaliation claim), and that good cause existed for Plaintiff's termination. Costs were taxed against Plaintiff on February 22, 1995, in the amount of $29,225.53.

B. The Current Lawsuit

Fourteen years later, in September 2009, Plaintiff filed this federal lawsuit. Her federal complaint, like her earlier Third Amended Complaint in state court, challenges the legality of her termination from employment, and actions leading up to her termination, including denying her promotions. The federal complaint includes claims for (i) "Wrongful Discharge -- Constructive"; (ii) Conspiracy to Defraud; (iii) IIED; and (iv) Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress.

In her claim for "Wrongful Discharge -- Constructive" (referred to in this order as the "Constructive Wrongful Discharge" claim), Plaintiff asserts that her termination violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA") and Title VII's prohibition on national origin, race, color, and sex discrimination. The complaint alleges that on or about June 12, 2009, Plaintiff filed a claim with the EEOC concerning her wrongful discharge, and the EEOC rejected the claim. The EEOC's "Dismissal and Notice of Rights," dated June 24, 2009, is attached to the complaint as Exhibit A. On this EEOC document, the EEOC stated that it was closing Plaintiff's case because: "Your charge was not timely filed with the EEOC, in other words, you waited too long after the date(s) of the alleged discrimination to file your charge."

Apart from the Constructive Wrongful Discharge claim, the remaining claims are state law claims. The complaint does not allege diversity jurisdiction. However, federal question jurisdiction exists over the Title VII and ADEA claims, ...


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