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Salter v. Hernandez

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 13, 2013

LINDA K. SALTER, Plaintiff,
v.
CARLOS HERNANDEZ, BETTY RODRIGUEZ, RUSS PETTIS, and DOES 1-25, Defendants.

ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS COMPLAINT

LAWRENCE J. O'NEILL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Linda K. Salter ("Salter") has brought suit against Defendants Carlos Hernandez, Betty Rodriguez, and Russ Pettis (collectively "Defendants") for civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 and for state claims. Defendants timely removed this action to this Court from Madera County Superior Court. Now pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss Salter's complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Salter opposed the motion, and Defendants have filed a reply. Upon careful consideration of the parties' arguments, the Court DISMISSES WITH PREJUDICE Salter's federal claims and REMANDS this action to Madera County Superior Court.

BACKGROUND

A. Facts

Salter worked as a Correction Counselor for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR") from 1990 until 2008 and again from 2011 until her retirement in 2012. At the relevant times during her employment, Salter worked at the Valley State Prison for Women ("VSPW"). Salter alleges that she was injured on the job on August 27, 2003, when she fell while pushing her file cart. Salter alleges that Hernandez, a Correction Counselor II at VSPW and Salter's direct supervisor, failed to timely complete an accident/injury report despite being notified that he needed to complete the report and advising Salter that he would complete the report. Hernandez completed the report on September 2, 2003.

Salter visited Rodriguez, a Return to Work Coordinator at VSPW, to request to see a doctor on September 15, 2003 for the August 27, 2003 accident. On September 15, Rodriguez filled out a form to document Salter's visit and checked the box on the form stating that "The facts do not indicate this claim of injury was work related." Salter alleges Rodriguez claimed to be suspicious of Salter because Salter did not report the August 27, 2003 accident until September 2, 2003, which was when Hernandez completed the report on Salter's accident.

On September 19, 2003, Salter saw Dr. Allen T. Nassar. Dr. Nassar diagnosed Salter with neck and back strain and later instructed her not to use her left arm. Salter alleges no accommodations were made for her at work other than having someone else push her file cart in late October 2003. Salter was removed from work after Rodriguez stated that VSPW could make no further accommodations for Salter.

Salter alleges that, in November 2003, Rodriguez notified a California Public Employees' Retirement System ("Cal-Pers") investigator that Salter would soon file a fraudulent claim. Salter further alleges Rodriguez notified the California State Compensation Insurance Fund ("State Fund") that Rodriguez was suspicious of Salter because Salter waited to see a doctor for her injuries from the August 27, 2003 accident. Cal-Pers and the State Fund each conducted surveillance on and investigated Salter. The State Fund declined to prosecute her in November 2004. Salter alleges that Hernandez and Rodriguez also caused the California Department of Insurance ("CDI") to conduct surveillance on Salter.

Salter applied for retirement at the direction of Rodriguez on February 13, 2004. On August 15, 2005, Cal-Pers notified Salter that it was denying her request for Industrial Disability Retirement benefits. In November 2005, an agreed medical examiner found Salter to be temporarily totally disabled and then permanent and stationary. Salter appealed the denial of benefits, and the Cal-Pers held a hearing on Salter's disability retirement appeal on April 30, 2007. The denial of Salter's retirement was affirmed on May 25, 2007.

In August 2007, Salter was arrested by Pettis and charged with fourteen felony counts of fraud and theft related to her injury. Salter's employment with VSPW was terminated on April 21, 2008.

Salter alleges that, in February 2009, two doctors diagnosed Salter with conditions related to depression and anxiety. Salter alleges that Defendants' conduct caused her depression and anxiety and prevented earlier diagnoses of her conditions.

In January 2011, the charges against Salter were dismissed. Salter's employment with VSPW was reinstated in February 2011.

Salter received clearance for disability retirement in May 2012. Salter's worker's compensation claim has been settled.

B. Procedural History

In a prior case before this Court, Salter had alleged federal and state claims against these same Defendants. Defendants had removed the prior case to this Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction from Madera County Superior Court. On February 14, 2013, this Court granted in part with leave to amend Defendants' motion to dismiss Salter's complaint. This Court granted Salter one opportunity to file an amended complaint in an attempt to cure the deficiencies in her dismissed claims. Salter filed an amended complaint and Defendants moved for dismissal of her amended complaint. On June 17, 2013, this Court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss Salter's federal claims and remanded her state claims to Madera County Superior Court for further proceedings. The prior case was closed on June 17, 2013.

After the case was remanded, Salter filed the instant complaint again alleging federal and state claims, and Defendants again removed to this Court. On November 8, 2013, Defendants moved for dismissal of Salter's complaint on the basis of failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Salter filed an ...


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