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Lanier v. Clovis Unified School District

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

June 6, 2013

JAMES M. LANIER, Plaintiff,
v.
CLOVIS UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant.

ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Doc. 71)

LAWRENCE J. O'NEILL, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Pending before the Court is defendant Clovis Unified School District's ("Clovis Unified") motion for summary judgment. Clovis Unified seeks summary judgment on pro se plaintiff James Lanier's ("Mr. Lanier") race and employment discrimination claims under Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Mr. Lanier opposes the motion. For the reasons discussed below, this Court GRANTS Clovis Unified's motion for summary judgment. To the extent Mr. Lanier's opposition can be construed as a counter-motion for summary judgment, the motion is DENIED.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

Mr. Lanier is African American. He owns and operates an accredited sports officiating service called Sports Time Officials Association. In May 2010, Mr. Lanier sought to provide sports officiating services to Clovis Unified as an independent contractor. (Doc. 73, ¶ 2, 14). In response to a request for bids from Clovis Unified, he submitted a proposal to provide sports officiating services for the district's athletic programs for the 2010-2011 school year. (Doc. 73, ¶ 1, 2).

As part of the bidding process, each bidder was required to complete a questionnaire about its organization. (Doc. 84-1, p. 3). Question five of the questionnaire required the bidder to state the number of officials registered with its organization. (Doc. 84-1, p. 11). The question also required the bidder to provide the names of the certified/credentialed officials registered with its organization, the officials' years of experience, and sports background. (Doc. 84-1, p. 11, 13). Mr. Lanier did not provide this information. (Doc. 73 ¶ 7). Only four of the seven bidders provided this information. ( Id. ).

After interviewing the top scoring bidders, the selection committee determined that the contract for the 2010-2011 school year should be split between three organizations. (Doc. 73 ¶ 8, 9). Mr. Lanier's organization was not selected. (Doc. 73 ¶ 9). All three of the selected organizations submitted rosters with the names of the officials registered with their organizations as required by question five of the questionnaire. (Doc. 73 ¶ 7, 9). Clovis Unified elected to renew the contract with the three organizations for the 2011-2012 school year. (Doc. 73 ¶ 11). Thus, there was no bidding process for the 2011-2012 contract. ( Id. ).

B. Procedural History

On September 23, 2011, Mr. Lanier filed a complaint in which he alleged a Title VI claim and two state law claims. (Doc. 1). After a screening of Mr. Lanier's pro se complaint, the Court dismissed his state law claims with prejudice and allowed his Title VI claim to proceed. (Doc. 5). Clovis Unified filed a motion to dismiss. (Doc. 13). In response, Mr. Lanier filed a first amended complaint which was not screened by the Court. (Doc. 23). In the first amended complaint, Mr. Lanier re-alleged his Title VI claim of race-based discrimination in the awarding of the sports officiating contracts for the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000d. ( Id. ). He also added two Title VII claims. ( Id. ). He alleged a disparate treatment/disparate impact discrimination in employment claim, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2, and a retaliation claim, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3. ( Id. ).

Clovis Unified brought a motion to dismiss Mr. Lanier's first amended complaint. (Doc. 25). It challenged the Title VI claim on a number of grounds and the Title VII claims solely on a res judicata theory. ( Id. ). This Court denied Clovis Unified's motion to dismiss in its entirety. (Doc. 32).

Now before the Court is Clovis Unified's motion for summary judgment. (Docs. 71, 72). It argues that it is entitled to summary judgment because Mr. Lanier cannot prevail on his Title VI claim. ( Id. ). It asserts that Mr. Lanier cannot establish a prima facie case of discrimination and that even if he could Clovis Unified had a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for not awarding him the contract. ( Id. ). Clovis Unified further argues that it is entitled to summary judgment on Mr. Lanier's Title VII claims because Mr. Lanier was never employed by Clovis Unified. ( Id. ).

In Mr. Lanier's opposition, he contends that Clovis Unified's motion for summary judgment on his Title VI claim should be denied because there is a triable issue of material fact as to whether Clovis Unified's proffered reason for not awarding him the contract was a mere pretext for unlawful discrimination. (Doc. 97, p. 14). In the alternative, Mr. Lanier argues that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on this claim.[1] (Doc. 96, p. 2:1-2). Mr. Lanier does not challenge Clovis Unified's arguments regarding this Title VII claims. (Doc. 97, p. 19).

The Court found Clovis Unified's motion suitable for a decision without oral argument, pursuant to Local Rule 230(g), and vacated the June 4, 2013, hearing date. (Doc. 93). Having considered the arguments ...


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