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Rulenz v. Ford Motor Co.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

May 20, 2013



GONZALO P. CURIEL, District Judge.

Presently before the Court is Plaintiff Patricia Rulenz's memorandum filed in response to the Court order (Dkt. No. 15) requiring Plaintiff to show cause why the amended complaint should not be stricken. (Dkt. No. 16). For the reasons stated below, the Court hereby STRIKES Plaintiff's Amended Complaint WITHOUT PREJUDICE.


On May 26, 2010, Patricia Rulenz ("Plaintiff") filed a civil action against defendants Ford Motor Company, Ford Motor Company, LLC, Does 1 to 50, inclusive, and Scott Rone in the California Superior Court ("Defendants" or "Ford Motor Company").[1] On August 26, 2010, the defendants removed the case to the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. (Dkt. No. 1.) On December 28, 2010, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' complaint pursuant to federal rule of civil procedure 12(b)6. (Dkt. No. 8.) Rather than file an opposition in response, Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint ("FAC") against Ford Motor Company, Ford Motor Credit Company, LLC, and Does 1 through 50, Inclusive ("Defendants"). (Dkt. No. 13.) The Court dismissed without prejudice the Plaintiff's original complaint and ordered Plaintiff to show cause why the FAC should not be stricken. (Dkt. No. 15.) The Court noted that the show cause' memorandum should focus on whether Plaintiff's FAC has remedied any defects addressed in Defendants' motion to dismiss the original complaint. (Dkt. No. 15 at 2.) On March 4, 2011, Plaintiff submitted a Memorandum of Points and Authorities to show cause why amended complaint should not be stricken and on March 18, 2011 Defendants filed an Opposition. (Dkt. Nos. 16, 21.)


The FAC asserts three causes of action against all Defendants: (1) age discrimination under California Government Code section 12940(a); (2) wrongful termination under California Government Code section 12940(a); and (3) intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED"). Beginning around April 1980, Plaintiff Patricia Rulenz became an employee for Ford Motor Company in San Diego, where she worked for approximately twenty-nine years. Plaintiff began her employment as a switchboard operator, a "pay grade one" position, and, by 2007, had advanced to the position of Credit Sales Analyst, a "pay grade six" position. Plaintiff had always received "Excellent Plus" performance ratings for her work.

In 2007, Defendants informed Plaintiff that many positions were being relocated to Henderson, Nevada, but at least one Account Manager position would remain in San Diego. Plaintiff applied for the San Diego opening but was not selected. Plaintiff believes the individual who obtained this position was younger than forty, not as well qualified as Plaintiff, and required relocation compensation. Plaintiff interviewed and was selected for an Account Manager position in Las Vegas, Nevada. She maintained her residency in California but began working in Las Vegas. Around January 2009, Plaintiff was informed that some Account Management positions would be eliminated in Las Vegas and she was instructed to apply for positions in Colorado Springs and Nashville. After applying for nine positions in both cities, Plaintiff was interviewed for a Dealer Analyst position in Colorado Springs. She was told by her manager that she was a very good candidate, however, she was not selected for the job. Ten Las Vegas employees were selected for the Colorado Springs Dealer Analyst positions. The employees selected were less than forty years old, had less experience than Plaintiff and, in some instances, no experience, and received relocation compensation which Plaintiff had agreed to forfeit.

Around February 2009, Plaintiff inquired about "pay grade five" and "pay grade four" positions in the Loss Prevention department in Las Vegas. On February 11, 2009, Plaintiff requested Defendants also consider her for a Team Lead or Customer Service position in Las Vegas. She informed Defendants of her Excellent Plus performance rating, over twenty-eight years of experience, her interest in various positions, her willingness to take a lower pay classification, and reminded Defendants she was available to work in Las Vegas, thus relocation compensation was not required. On or about February 26, 2009, Plaintiff was terminated from her job. Her manager informed her that the selection process for termination was based on employees' performance ratings and length of service, explaining employees with the lowest years of service would be terminated first. Fifty employees had been selected for Loss Prevention positions; the new employees are less than forty years old and many are less qualified than Plaintiff. Plaintiff asserts that the motivating reason for her termination was her age, which is over forty years old.


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a party to raise by motion the defense that the complaint "fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." The Court evaluates whether a complaint states a cognizable legal theory and sufficient facts in light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), which requires a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Although Rule 8 "does not require detailed factual allegations, ' it [does] demand[] more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In other words, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555 (citing Papasan v. Allain , 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). "Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s]' devoid of further factual enhancement.'" Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly , 550 U.S. at 557).


Plaintiff contends she has sufficiently pled facts to support all three causes of action alleged in the FAC. (Dkt. No. 16 at 2.) Defendants claim the FAC does little or nothing to remedy the defects identified by their motion to dismiss the original complaint and does not meet minimum federal pleading standards. (Dkt. No. 21 at 1.)

A. Age Discrimination and Wrongful Termination in Violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act

Defendants claim Plaintiff's first two causes of action fail because California's Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"), Cal. Gov't Code ยงยง 12900-12996, does not protect out-of-state residents from actions occurring outside of California and the allegedly wrongful termination took place in Nevada. (Dkt. No. 21 at 3.) Defendants also argue Plaintiff's FEHA claims fail because Plaintiff cannot challenge any adverse employment actions without first exhausting her administrative remedies. (Dkt. No. 21 at 6.) Plaintiff asserts she maintained her ...

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