The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge
This is a sexual harassment and assault action brought under Title IX and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA") by Plaintiff Marina Large ("Plaintiff") against Defendants The Regents of the University of California ("University") and Eduardo Blumwald (hereafter collectively referred to as "Defendants").
Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment or Partial Summary Judgment ("MSJ") (ECF No. 58) with respect to Plaintiff's Title IX, FEHA, and common law tort claims against Defendants.
As set forth below, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
The alleged sexual harassment occurred during Plaintiff's time as a graduate student at U.C. Davis, while working in Defendant Blumwald's lab. Plaintiff alleges that Blumwald sexually harassed her by exposing her to a hostile work environment, and that the University failed to take reasonable and timely steps to end the abuse.
Plaintiff came to UC Davis to begin a PhD program in the Plant Sciences Department in 2002, and in the spring of 2003 began working as a graduate student under the supervision and direction of Professor Blumwald.*fn1 (Complaint ("Compl."), ECF No. 58-5 at 3.) Within a few months, Blumwald allegedly began directing sexually offensive and inappropriate comments toward Plaintiff. (Id.) Plaintiff claims she alerted the Manager of the Graduate Group Complex to Blumwald's behavior but to no avail. (Id.) In late 2004 or early 2005, Blumwald allegedly slapped Plaintiff's face and stated, "this is how it's done in my lab dear." (Id. at 3-4.) Plaintiff claims she once again reported this incident to the Manager of the Graduate Group Complex, who claimed she would file a report. (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff claims she never received any follow-up information. (Id.)
Plaintiff alleges that over the next few years, Blumwald continued to verbally harass, intimidate and threaten her. (Id.) He allegedly commented on her weight and pinched the sides of her waist. (Id.) He would allegedly comment on her sex life, remarking, "if you got laid you would be much more happy and easygoing." (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Blumwald often demeaned her professionally, calling her an "idiot," and "not fit to be a graduate student." (Id.) He allegedly asked her if he was wasting his time with her because she might choose to have children instead of pursuing a career in science. (Id.) Plaintiff claims that Blumwald threatened to ruin her academic future, saying he would "fuck" and "screw" her at her thesis committee meetings. (Id. at 5.)
Plaintiff claims that on October 18, 2007, she was standing outside with some friends when Blumwald approached and interrupted the conversation. (Id.) At one point, Blumwald allegedly reached across the circle and slapped Plaintiff across the face. (Id.) Plaintiff reported this incident to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing on October 9, 2008, and received a Right-To-Sue letter. (Id. at 2.)
Plaintiff filed her Complaint with the Yolo Superior Court on October 20, 2008. Defendants removed the case to this Court. Plaintiff's claims are as follows: (1) sexual harassment in violation of FEHA against University and Blumwald; (2) failure to prevent sexual harassment in violation of FEHA against University; (3) sexual harassment in violation of Title IX against University and Blumwald; (4) failure to prevent sexual harassment in violation of Title IX against University; (5) assault and battery against Blumwald; (6) false imprisonment against Blumwald; (7) intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) against University and Blumwald; (8) negligence against University and Blumwald; and (9) intentional interference with prospective economic advantage against Blumwald.
Defendant University moves for summary judgment as to all claims. Defendant Blumwald also moves for summary judgment on all claims with the following exceptions; (1) the fifth cause of action for assault and battery to the extent it is based on an alleged assault on October 18, 2007, (2) the sixth cause of action for false imprisonment, and (3) the seventh cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress against Blumwald. (MSJ, ECF No. 58 at 1.) Plaintiff does not contest Defendants' Motion as to the ninth cause of action, and therefore Defendants' Motion is GRANTED regarding the claim for intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. (Pl.'s Opp. to MSJ ("Opp."), ECF No. 59 at 1.)
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 that ...