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Rudy Gonzales v. City of Los Angeles

May 7, 2013

RUDY GONZALES
v.
CITY OF LOS ANGELES, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable George H. King, Chief U. S. District Judge

JS-6

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

Presiding: The Honorable GEORGE H. KING, CHIEF U. S. DISTRICT JUDGE

Beatrice Herrera N/A N/A

Deputy Clerk Court Reporter / Recorder Tape No.

Attorneys Present for Plaintiff: Attorneys Present for Defendants: None None

Proceedings: (In Chambers) Order re: Motions for Summary Judgment [Dkt. No. 44]

This matter is before us on (1) Defendants City of Los Angeles ("the City") and Police Chief Charlie Beck's ("Chief Beck" and collectively with the City, "Defendants") Motion for Summary Judgment ("Defendants' Motion") and (2) Plaintiff Rudy Gonzales's ("Gonzales" or "Plaintiff") Cross Motion for Summary Judgment ("Plaintiff's Motion"). We have considered the papers filed in support of and in opposition to these Motions, and deem them appropriate for resolution without oral argument.

L.R. 7-15. As the Parties are familiar with the facts, we will repeat them only as necessary. Accordingly, we rule as follows.

Background

The LAPD hired Gonzales in 1990. (Joint Statement of Unconverted Facts ("SUF") at P-2). On February 27, 2008, Gonzales injured himself at work when a stool he was sitting on broke. (Id. at P-10, 11). Gonzales began submitting doctor's notes to excuse him from qualifying to use his firearm. Sgt. Martin Baggesgard ("Baggesgard") supervised Gonzales and examined Gonzales's notes to determine whether they complied with department guidelines. (Id. at P-17). Baggesgard determined that Gonzales's notes did not comply because they did not state the specific month and year exempted (e.g., "no qualification for July 2008") and asked Gonzales to provide compliant notes. Gonzales did not provide notes with this specific language, and on September 17, 2008, Baggesgard issued a disciplinary comment card against him. (See id. at P-29; Baggesgard Depo. Exh. 34). On June 8, 2010, the LAPD held a Board of Rights ("BOR"), an administrative hearing, on two charges against Gonzales: (1) failure to qualify for his firearm and (2) insubordination for failing to provide doctor's notes as Baggesgard ordered. (See SUF at P-35, 38; D-16, 25). The BOR found Plaintiff guilty of insubordination and recommended a penalty of termination. (Id. at P-39, D-27). On June 24, 2010, Chief Beck adopted the BOR's recommendation and signed an order terminating Plaintiff retroactive to October 2009. (Id. at P-40). Plaintiff then filed a petition for a writ of mandate in Los Angeles County Superior Court ("Writ Court") to challenge his termination. (Id. at P-41). The Writ Court determined that the weight of the evidence did not support the BOR's finding that Gonzales was insubordinate, and on May 23, 2011, the Writ Court ordered that Gonzales be reinstated with backpay. (Id. at P-42). On January 26, 2012, Plaintiff applied for an order to show cause re: contempt in the Writ Court based on the City's failure to immediately reinstate him. (Id. at P-50). The Writ Court held a hearing on the contempt issue and the City's return of writ on February 28, 2012. (Id. at P-51). The Writ Court did not hold the City in contempt. (Id. at D-35). Defendants reinstated Gonzales as of December 2011 and paid all back pay that was due pursuant to the Writ Court's order. (Id. at P-51, 53; D-33).*fn1

Plaintiff asserts California FEHA claims and § 1983 and Monell claims. Plaintiff contends (1) he was terminated for discriminatory reasons based on disability, age, and worker's compensation, and he suffered harassment and retaliation; and (2) in particular, Baggesgard had discriminatory reasons to initiate discipline for the doctor's notes. To support these contentions, Plaintiff attests that Baggesgard "regularly call[ed] [him] and others, who were on light duty, malingerers." (Gonzales Decl. ¶ 32; see Gonzales Depo. at 270:11-271:5 ("[A]s I recall, [Baggesgard said] . . . '[w]hy do you want to be along with all those malingerers,' or words to that effect.")). Plaintiff also contends that Defendants' delay in reinstating him was a due process violation for which both Chief Beck and the City are liable under § 1983 and Monell.

Legal Standard

We may grant summary judgment only "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FRCP 56(a). "A party may move for summary judgment . . . [on] part of [a] claim." Id. As to materiality, "[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). On a motion for summary judgment, the district court's "function is ...


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