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Carlos Bejar v. City of Chula Vista

September 13, 2011

CARLOS BEJAR,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF CHULA VISTA, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: M. James Lorenz United States District Court Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS [DOC. 5]

On March 2, 2011, Defendants City of Chula Vista ("City") and Louis Vignapiano removed this personal-injury action to this Court. The Notice of Removal included Plaintiff Carlos Bejar's First Amended Complaint ("FAC") and Defendants' Answer. Defendants now move for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). Plaintiff opposes.

For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Doc. 5.)

BACKGROUND*fn1

The City employed Plaintiff beginning in 2002 until his termination in 2006. (FAC ¶ 17--23 [Doc. 1].) Initially, Plaintiff worked for the City's Fire Department. (FAC ¶ 17.) But in 2005, he was transferred to Information Technology where he reported to Vignapiano. (FAC ¶

In 2006, Vignapiano accused Plaintiff of "lying about his timesheets and other documentation regarding Plaintiff's whereabouts on November 8, 2005." (FAC ¶ 21.) Vignapiano also added allegedly false charges regarding Plaintiff's sick leave on July 13, 2006 and August 28, 2006. (FAC ¶ 23.) Eventually, Vignapiano formally charged Plaintiff with "dishonesty," which consequently led to Plaintiff's termination. (FAC ¶ 1.) Plaintiff, in response, retained counsel and "fought the charges at his pre-termination Skelly hearing, and at a lengthy evidentiary hearing before [the] Civil Service Commission," but to no avail. (Id.) After

Skelly hearing, the presiding officer at the hearing communicated with Vignapiano regarding the charges asserted against Plaintiff outside his presence. (FAC ¶¶ 6, 26--27.) Plaintiff alleges that this is Defendants' "most glaring due-process violation." (FAC ¶ 6.) At the conclusion of

Skelly process, the City terminated Plaintiff in December 2006. (FAC ¶ 24; Defs.' RJN, Ex. 1 at 20.)

Following the Skelly hearing and termination, the Civil Service Commission ("Commission") conducted another hearing regarding Plaintiff's termination in March 2007. (FAC ¶¶ 29--32; Defs.' RJN, Ex. 1 at 20.) During this hearing, the Commission-a group of five unelected members who cannot hold any salaried City office or employment (City Charter § 609)-did not allow Plaintiff to present an audio tape of "obscene threats" made by Vignapiano left on Plaintiff's voicemail. (FAC ¶ 30.) Ultimately, the Commission affirmed Plaintiff's termination. (FAC ¶¶ 31--32.)

Thereafter, Plaintiff sought judicial review of the Commission's decision by filing a petition for administrative mandamus pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure § 1094.5 ("Mandamus Proceedings") in San Diego Superior Court. (FAC ¶ 2; Defs.' RJN, Ex. 1 at 1.) Plaintiff filed the petition in September 2007, and named only the Commission as a respondent. (Defs.' RJN, Ex. 1 at 24.) In November 2009, the Superior Court granted Plaintiff's petition and reversed the Commission's decision. (FAC ¶ 2.)

On January 31, 2011, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court. (Notice of Removal, Ex. A at 12 [Doc. 1-1].) In the FAC, Plaintiff asserts six causes of actions: (1) abuse of process; (2) malicious prosecution; (3) unlawful policies, customs, or habits; (4) defamation; (5) interference; and (6) intentional infliction of emotional distress. Each of Plaintiff's claims stem from alleged civil-rights violations based on 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (FAC ¶¶ 33--55.) Furthermore, Plaintiff expressly seeks "different remedies for different injuries" than those pursued in the Mandamus Proceedings. (FAC ¶ 3.)

On March 2, 2011, Defendants removed this case to this Court.

On April 26, 2011, Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the ...


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