Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Coyne v. County of San Diego

May 4, 2010

KATHLEEN COYNE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Janis L. Sammartino United States District Judge

ORDER (1) RE: MOTIONS IN LIMINE; (2) SCHEDULING PRETRIAL CONFERENCE AND OTHER DATES

On February 5, 2010, this Court gave both parties in the above-captioned matter leave to file up to six (6) brief motions in limine.*fn1 (Doc. No. 47.) On April 8, 2010, Defendant County of San Diego ("Defendant") filed five motions in limine. (Doc. Nos. 50-54.) Also on that date, Plaintiff Kathleen Coyne filed six motions in limine. (Doc. Nos. 55-60.) Responses to each of the motions were filed on April 15, 2010. (Doc. Nos. 60-71.)

A final pretrial conference is HEREBY SCHEDULED for Thursday, July 15, 2010 in Courtroom 6. The parties' memoranda of contentions of fact and law and all pretrial disclosures SHALL BE FILED on or before June 14, 2010. The proposed final pretrial conference order, including objections, SHALL BE LODGED with the Court on or before June 28, 2010.

For the reasons stated below, the Court HEREBY: - GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendants' motion in limine No. 1. (Doc. No. 50.) - DENIES Defendant's motion in limine No. 2. (Doc. No. 51.) - DENIES Defendant's motion in limine No. 3. (Doc. No. 52.) - DENIES Defendant's motion in limine No. 4. (Doc. No. 53.) - GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendant's motion in limine No. 5. (Doc. No. 54.) - DENIES Plaintiff's motion in limine No. 1. (Doc. No. 55.) - DENIES Plaintiff's motion in limine No. 2. (Doc. No. 56.) - DENIES Plaintiff's motion in limine No. 3. (Doc. No. 57.) - GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Plaintiff's motion in limine No. 4. (Doc. No. 58.) - GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Plaintiff's motion in limine No. 5. (Doc. No. 59.) - GRANTS Plaintiff's motion in limine No. 6.

DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS IN LIMINE

I. To Exclude Evidence that Attempts to Relitigate Prior Gender Discrimination Complaints

Plaintiff's gender discrimination and retaliation claims arise out of her speaking out against the alleged gender discrimination in 2006 where two women and twelve men were promoted (the "2006 promotions"). Defendant's first motion in limine seeks to exclude "[a]ll of the evidence about the 2006 promotions, investigations into those promotions and even the details about the results of the administrative hearing and lawsuit . . ." (Def. MIL No. 1 at 2.)

First, Defendant contends that the allegations of discrimination in the 2006 promotions have been fully and finally adjudicated by the Civil Service Commission for two of the non-promoted women and by California Superior Court for two other non-promoted women. All claims were found to be unsupported.*fn2 (Def. MIL No. 1 at 2-3; see also Carroll Decl. Exs. 3 & 4.) Defendant therefore argues that "Plaintiff cannot relitigate in this forum the question of whether there was merit to the underlying claims of gender discrimination." (Def. MIL No. 1 at 3.)

Second, Defendant contends that any arguments related to the 2006 promotions are irrelevant to the present issue because Defendant concedes that Plaintiff's speaking out in support of the non-promoted women is protected activity regardless of whether the support was misplaced or not.*fn3 (Def. MIL No. 1 at 3-5.) Defendant goes on to assert that any attempt by Plaintiff to introduce other complaints of discrimination as probative evidence of her claim should be excluded under FRE 403 because "the probative value is greatly outweighed by possible prejudice and the fact that addressing such claims will be misleading, confusing and inordinately time-consuming." (Def. MIL No. 1 at 4; Fed. R. Evid. 403.

The Court generally agrees that Plaintiff is properly barred from introducing evidence of the alleged discrimination in the 2006 promotions as unduly prejudicial and time-consuming under FREs 401-403. The parties should not re-litigate the merits of the other women's claims involving the 2006 promotions.*fn4 To be sure, other allegations of discrimination similar to Plaintiff's claim of gender discrimination are somewhat probative, but the Court is of the opinion that any probative value is outweighed by the time-consuming nature of introducing witnesses and evidence of those discrimination claims. To do so would force Defendant to introduce evidence in an effort to establish that those claims are without merit. These claims, however, have already been litigated and are not properly before the Court in this action.

That said, the Court finds that Defendant's request for what evidence and testimony should be excluded is overly broad. Defendant seeks to exclude any evidence "about the subsequent litigation and administrative proceedings that arose after plaintiff's colleagues challenged those promotions." (Def. MIL No. 1 at 4.) This, however, would necessarily exclude all evidence of Plaintiff's involvement in those proceedings, which the Court finds is relevant to her current retaliation claim. The extent of Plaintiff's involvement is probative of whether or not her transfer was motivated by her speaking out in support of the women's claims of discrimination prior to, during, and after the litigation and administrative proceedings. As Plaintiff asserts in her opposition to the motion, "[o]ne of the principal themes of Plaintiff's case is that Messrs. Carroll and Coker perceived her as the ringleader of a revolt which was directed at these gentlemen personally" and what may have contributed to this alleged perception and, as a result, discrimination and retaliation, is relevant.

Accordingly, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendants' first motion in limine.*fn5

II. To Exclude Evidence About Disciplinary Action

Defendant's second motion in limine involves the disciplinary action resulting from Plaintiff's motion to disqualify Judge Parsky, which occurred roughly a year and a half after Plaintiff's transfer. (MIL No. 2 at 1-2; Carroll Decl., Exs. 11 & 12.) Asserting that Plaintiff's motion was riddled with errors and was otherwise inappropriate, the Public Defender issued a letter of reprimand which was later reduced to a letter of warning. (Id.) Defendant contends that this disciplinary action should be excluded because it was not raised in any administrative action and therefore cannot be raised in this action. (Id. at 2.)

"The jurisdictional scope of a Title VII claimant's court action depends upon the scope of both the EEOC charge and the EEOC investigation." Sosa v. Hiraoka, 920 F.2d 1451, 1456 (9th Cir. 1990) (citation omitted); see also Okoli v. Lockheed Tech. Operations Co., 36 Cal. App. 4th 1607, 1613 (1995) (stating that Plaintiff must specify wrongful act in FEHA administrative charge as jurisdictional prerequisite). The EEOC charge must be construed liberally, and the Court "must inquire 'whether the original EEOC investigation would not have encompassed the additional charges' made in the court complaint but not included in the EEOC charge itself." Id. Thus, the test is whether the present claims are "'like or reasonably related to' the allegations contained" in the EEOC charge. Id. at 1457. It is uncontested that the administrative complaint did not include the disciplinary action, as it had not yet occurred at the time the EEOC claim was filed. The issue, therefore, is whether the disciplinary action is a claim of discrimination that "can be reasonably expected to grow out of the charge of discrimination" in the EEOC charge. See id. at 1456 (citation omitted). In other words, whether the present claims are "like or reasonably related to the allegations" in the EEOC charge. See id. at 1457.

Defendant contends that the sole charges of discrimination in the administrative claims at issue here are the transfer and Plaintiff's presentation at the Commission on the Status of Women. (Def. MIL No. 2 at 3; see also id. Exs. 1, 2.) "Nothing about the allegations in the charges would reasonably trigger an investigation that would include the subsequent disciplinary letter." (Id. at 3.) Thus, Defendant argues that the disciplinary action is not "like or reasonably related to the allegations" in the charges and therefore not properly before this Court. Defendant further argues that the disciplinary letter is not even in the Complaint, which again only contests the transfer and does not mention the disciplinary action.*fn6 (Id. at 3-4.)

The claims in the DFEH and EEOC charge in this matter are substantially the same. Plaintiff states in both that she spoke at the Commission on the Status of Women and thereafter was transferred to the Juvenile Delinquency branch. Plaintiff further claims that "[t]his transfer was punitive and retaliatory, and in direct response to my statement to the Commission in March 7, and my longstanding opposition to gender bias in the Department." (See Def. MIL No. 2, Exs. 1 (DFEH charge) & 2 (EEOC charge).)

Given the case law and Plaintiff's administrative claims, the Court finds that Plaintiff has sufficiently proven that the disciplinary action is "like or reasonably related to" the charges in the EEOC and DFEH claim in order to give this Court jurisdiction over her ongoing retaliation claim. The cases of Sosa v. Hiraoka and Chung v. Pomona Valley Community Hosp. are illustrative. In Sosa, the court found that the various allegations in the EEOC indicated a pattern of discrimination sufficient to give the court federal jurisdiction:

Sosa's allegations in his EEOC charge-of a course of intimidation, harassment, and disparate treatment; of a pattern of retaliation discrimination; of the refusal to promote him; and that he had lodged other "discrimination charges/complaints"-are together sufficient to have apprised the EEOC of all discriminatory acts Sosa ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.