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McFadden v. City of El Centro

United States District Court, S.D. California

July 2, 2014



JEFFREY T. MILLER, District Judge.

Defendant City of El Centro ("El Centro") moves to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Plaintiff Andrew McFadden opposes the motion. Pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(d)(1), this matter is appropriate for decision without oral argument. For the reasons set forth below, the court grants the motion to dismiss the Title VII retaliation and discrimination claims, finds the federal claims barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion, declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims, and instructs the Clerk of Court to close the file.


The Present Action

On April 17, 2014, Plaintiff filed the SAC alleging five claims for relief: (1) retaliation in violation of Title VII and California Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"); (2) discrimination based on race in violation of Title VII and FEHA; (3) wrongful termination in violation of public policy; (4) failure to prevent discrimination, retaliation, or harassment in violation of Cal. Gov't Code §12940 et seq.; and (5) violation of Cal. Civil Code §56.20. (Ct. Dkt. 17). Plaintiff alleges federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1331. (SAC ¶¶1, 2).

The SAC alleges that Plaintiff, an African-American male older than 40, began working as a police officer with El Centro in 1989. (SAC ¶¶16, 17). Between 2002 and 2010, Plaintiff was allegedly subjected to discriminatory, hostile, and harassing employment practices by employees of the El Centro Police Department. (SAC ¶18). In 2009 and in 2010, Plaintiff filed charges of racial discrimination with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing ("DFEH") and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against several El Centro police officers and El Centro. In 2010, Plaintiff filed a civil lawsuit against El Centro "alleging race discrimination, disability discrimination, retaliation, and deprivation of civil rights." (FAC ¶19). After he filed the suit, Plaintiff alleges that the acts of discrimination "escalated." (SAC ¶21).[1]

In January 2011, Plaintiff was subjected to an "administrative investigation" into his driving practices. The administrative investigation was allegedly based upon a citizen's complaint about the driving practices of the El Centro Police Department in general. (SAC ¶22). Plaintiff was allegedly the only target of the investigation. On March 29, 2011, Sergeant John Seaman completed his report, determined that "Plaintiff's driving practices were poor, " and recommended that Plaintiff's employment with El Centro Police Department should be terminated. (SAC ¶23). On April 20, 2011, the Executive Commander recommended to the Chief of Police that Plaintiff's employment should be terminated.

Despite two previous Fitness for Duty examinations, El Centro requested that Plaintiff participate in another Fitness for Duty examination. On September 12, 2011, Plaintiff traveled to Los Angeles "to attend a Fitness for Duty assessment as demanded by Defendant's Human Resources Director." (SAC ¶25). Upon arrival to the doctor's office, Plaintiff was instructed to sign a medical release form. The doctor would not perform the fitness exam unless Plaintiff signed the release. Plaintiff was unwilling to sign the release. On December 22, 2011, Plaintiff's employment with El Centro Police was terminated based upon the investigation into Plaintiff's driving practices and his failure to complete the Fitness for Duty test. (SAC ¶26).

The Earlier Filed Action

As noted above, on September 30, 2010, Plaintiff commenced an action against El Centro alleging four causes of action: (1) race discrimination in violation of Title VII and FEHA; (2) disability discrimination in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act; (3) retaliation discrimination in violation of Title VII and FEHA; and (4) violation of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §1983. McFadden v. City of El Centro. Case No. 10cv2042 WQH ("McFadden I").

On September 26, 2012, Judge Hayes granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant, and against Plaintiff, on all claims. With respect to the race discrimination and retaliation claims, the court concluded that Plaintiff failed to state a prima facie claim of discrimination and, even if he did, undisputed "evidenced in the record shows that Plaintiff's work performance as police officer was unsatisfactory." (Ct. Dkt. 47 at p.8:24-25). On the disability claim of dyslexia, Judge Hayes determined that Plaintiff failed to state a prima facie case of discrimination. On the civil rights claim, the court found that Plaintiff had failed to submit any evidence that his constitutional rights had been violated.


Legal Standards

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) dismissal is proper only in "extraordinary" cases. United States v. Redwood City , 640 F.2d 963, 966 (9th Cir. 1981). Courts should grant 12(b)(6) relief only where a plaintiff's complaint lacks a "cognizable legal theory" or sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dept. , 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). Courts should dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim when the factual allegations are insufficient "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (the complaint's allegations must "plausibly suggest[]" that the pleader is entitled to relief); Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662 (2009) (under Rule 8(a), well-pleaded facts must do more than permit the court to infer the mere possibility of misconduct). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id . at 678. Thus, "threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id . The defect must appear on the face of the complaint itself. Thus, courts ...

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