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Edinger v. City of Westminster

United States District Court, C.D. California

December 2, 2014

MATTHEW EDINGER
v.
CITY OF WESTMINSTER, ET AL

ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFF: Not Present.

ATTORNEYS FOR DEFENDANT: Not Present.

CIVIL MINUTES -- GENERAL

THE HONORABLE DAVID O. CARTER, JUDGE.

PROCEEDINGS (IN CHAMBERS): ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO DISMISS [31]

Before the Court is Defendants Ron Coopman, William Collins, and Albert Panella's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint (" Motion") (Dkt. 31). Having considered the Motion, opposition, and reply, the Court hereby GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the Motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Matthew Edinger (" Mr. Edinger") has been employed by Defendant City of Westminster, Westminster Police Department (" City of Westminster") as a police officer since 1997. Third Am. Compl. (" TAC") ¶ ¶ 3, 11. Up until 2010, Mr. Edinger received " exemplary performance evaluations" and " numerous awards and commendations." Id. ¶ 11.

In July 2010, one of Mr. Edinger's coworkers (Reyes) claimed that a supervisor was discriminating against him. Id. ¶ 12. Defendant Ron Coopman (" Mr. Coopman"), then Captain of the Department, advised the police chief of the allegations, who in turn assigned the investigation to Defendant Albert Panella (" Mr. Panella"), then a lieutenant in internal affairs, to complete. Id. ¶ 13. During an investigation of the coworker's allegations, Mr. Edinger provided a truthful statement relating to his observations of the interactions between the coworker and the coworker's supervisor to Mr. Panella's assistant. Id. ¶ 16. The statement supported the coworker's claim and implicated Mr. Edinger's supervisor. Id. Mr. Edinger's participation in the investigation quickly became well-known in the Department. Id.

Not long after making his statement, Mr. Edinger was informed that the Department had concluded Reyes' complaints were unfounded. Id. ¶ 18. At the conclusion of the investigation, Mr. Coopman reviewed the information gathered during the investigation, including Mr. Edinger's interview. Id. Panella was also aware of the content of the interview, due to his supervisory role in the investigation. Id. Defendant William Collins (" Mr. Collins"), who oversaw three Internal Affairs investigations against Mr. Reyes, learned of Mr. Edinger's interview by late December 2010. Id.

Shortly thereafter, Mr. Edinger received two negative log entries from his supervisors. Id. ¶ 19. Also, in the following months, he was denied several assignments and promotions. Id. ¶ 20. In November 2010, a junior officer was selected for the Narcotics/Special Investigations Unit over Mr. Edinger. Id. In January 2011, Mr. Edinger was passed over for a promotion to corporal. Id. ¶ 21. Seven officers were promoted, and five had less experience than him. Id. In November 2011, he was again denied a promotion to corporal, and a junior officer who had not submitted a memorandum of interest or taken the written test was promoted instead. Id. ¶ 22. In March 2012, he applied but was not selected for a Narcotics position, and a junior officer with no prior experience in the detective's bureau was given the assignment instead. Id. ¶ 23.

In October 2012, Mr. Edinger submitted a memorandum of interest for a position as an Auto Theft Detective, but a junior officer with a disciplinary record was selected instead. Id. ¶ 24. When Mr. Edinger expressed disappointment to Mr. Collins about being passed over, Mr. Collins advised him that the position was 'entry level' and that Mr. Edinger should apply for apposition in Robbery/Homicide as it would be a better fit for his experience. Id. In October 2012, Mr. Edinger also submitted his name for consideration for a position in the Special Investigations Unit, but was not selected. Id. ¶ 25. At all relevant time, Mr. Collins was the decision-maker regarding detective promotions within the department. Id. ¶ 27.

In October and November of 2012, two sergeants hid Mr. Edinger's assigned patrol vehicle on two separate occasions. Id. ¶ 26. A sergeant also removed Mr. Edinger's duty gear from his patrol vehicle and left it on the floor of the watch commander's office. Id. He reported these incidents to Mr. Panella. Id.

In November 2012, Mr. Edinger was deposed in connection with a civil action filed against the City of Westminster by a coworker who claimed to be the target of discrimination. Id. ¶ 28. His testimony tended to support his coworker's claims. Id. ¶ 30. Prior to the deposition, Mr. Panella called Plaintiff multiple times to discuss his testimony, and became upset when Plaintiff refused. Id ¶ 28.

Around that time, Mr. Edinger reported to Mr. Panella his concern that he was being retaliated against for his testimony related to his coworker's discrimination claims. Id. ¶ 31. Mr. Panella divulged this report to Mr. Collins and Defendant Dan Schoonmaker (" Mr. Schoonmaker"). Id.

Afterwards, Westminster Police Department employees began playing additional practical jokes on and teasing Mr. Edinger. Id. ΒΆ 32. His ...


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