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Scoy v. New Albertson's Inc.


June 30, 2010


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


Defendant Save Mart Supermarkets Inc., as successor in interest to Albertsons, Inc. and Albertsons, LLC ("Defendant"), move for summary judgment as to Plaintiff Teresa Lyon ("Plaintiff") on grounds that Ms. Lyon's complaints of harassment, retailiation and discrimination in violation of the California Fair and Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"), her claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy, and her allegations that Defendant violated the California Family Rights Act ("CFRA")*fn1 are barred by the applicable statutes of limitation.

Plaintiff has not opposed Defendant's Motion. As set forth below, the Court finds that the Motion is well-taken and will be granted.*fn2


Plaintiff worked for Defendant and its predecessor in interest from May 21, 1996 through September 26, 2005. She worked in various capacities at several different store locations. Plaintiff Lyon is one of eleven different Plaintiffs bringing this action for alleged conduct that occurred when they worked at Defendant's Vallejo store. She alleges she was discriminated against based on a hostile work environment and she was denied family or medical leave to care for her disabled father. As a result, Plaintiff contends she was forced to quit Defendant's employ. As stated above, Plaintiff alleges violations of the FEHA and CFRA along with claims that she was ultimately constructively terminated in violation of public policy.


The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for summary judgment when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). One of the principal purposes of Rule 56 is to dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). Under summary judgment practice, the moving party "always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact."

Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting Rule 56(c).

If the moving party meets its initial responsibility, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue as to any material fact actually does exist. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585-587 (1986); First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Ser. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288-289 (1968).

In attempting to establish the existence of this factual dispute, the opposing party must tender evidence of specific facts in the form of affidavits, and/or admissible discovery material, in support of its contention that the dispute exists.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). The opposing party must demonstrate that the fact in contention is material, i.e., a fact that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, and that the dispute is genuine, i.e., the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 251-52 (1986); Owens v. Local No. 169, Assoc. of Western Pulp and Paper Workers, 971 F.2d 347, 355 (9th Cir. 1987). Stated another way, "before the evidence is left to the jury, there is a preliminary question for the judge, not whether there is literally no evidence, but whether there is any upon which a jury could properly proceed to find a verdict for the party producing it, upon whom the onus of proof is imposed." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251 (quoting Improvement Co. v. Munson, 14 Wall. 442, 448, 20 L.Ed. 867 (1872)). As the Supreme Court explained, "[w]hen the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts... Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586-87.


Prior to filing a suit for violation of the FEHA, a plaintiff must file an administrative complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing ("DFEH") and receive a "right to sue" letter.

Cal. Gov't Code §§ 12960, 12965(b). That administrative complaint must be filed not later than one year after the date on which the alleged unlawful employment act occurred. Id. at 12960(d). The CFRA is part of the FEHA and therefore any claim submitted pursuant to the CFRA is subject to the same requirements before any civil suit can be instituted. Dudley v. Dep't of Transp., 90 Cal. App. 4th 255, 260, 265-66 (2001). Failure to exhaust administrative remedies is a jurisdictional defect upon which dismissal of a plaintiff's complaint may properly be predicated. Okoli v. Lockheed Technical Operations Co., 36 Cal. App. 4th 1607, 1613 (1995); Martin v. Lockheed Missiles & Space Co., 29 Cal. App. 4th 1718, 1724 (1994).

Here, Ms. Lyon was terminated on September 26, 2005 and she does not allege that any harassment or other unlawful acts could possibly have occurred after her termination. Def.'s Undisputed Fact ("UF") Nos. 2, 4-5. Her Complaint of Discrimination was filed on March 21, 2007, more than one year later. UF No. 3. As such, Plaintiff's claims under the DFEH (First Cause of Action) and CFRA (Third Cause of Action) are time barred.

Plaintiff's Second Cause of Action, for wrongful termination in violation of public policy, fares no better from a timeliness perspective. The statute of limitations accruing to that particular claim is one year under California Code of Civil Procedure § 340(3). Barton v. New United Motor Mfg., Inc., 43 Cal. App. 4th 1200, 1208-09 (1996). Because Plaintiff was terminated on September 26, 2005, and did not file the instant lawsuit until March 20, 2008, well over two years later, Plaintiff's wrongful termination claim is time barred as well.


As set forth above, all three of Plaintiff Teresa Lyon's causes of action against Defendant are barred by the applicable statutes of limitation, a conclusion only underscored by the fact that Plaintiff has not opposed this Motion. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment as to Plaintiff Teresa Lyon (Docket No. 16) is accordingly GRANTED. The claims of the other named Plaintiffs, however, remain active and may proceed.


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