California Court of Appeals, Third District, Sacramento
[DEPUBLISHED BY ORDER]
APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Sacramento County, No. 34-2011-00106805-CU-OE-GDS Richard K. Sueyoshi, Judge.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai, Timothy G. Yeung and Steven P. Shaw for Defendant and Appellant.
Law Office of M. Catherine Jones, M. Catherine Jones; and George F. Allen for Plaintiff and Respondent.
BLEASE, ACTING P. J.
Defendant Superior Court of Nevada County (SCNC) appeals a jury verdict in favor of plaintiff and former employee
Emily Gallup. Gallup brought this action alleging, in part, that SCNC retaliated against her in violation of Labor Code section 1102.5, subdivision (b) for engaging in protected activity when she complained to her supervisor, other court management, and the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) that the Family Court Services Department (FCS) was not providing services in compliance with the law, rules, regulations, and policies. SCNC demurred to this cause of action on the ground Gallup had failed to exhaust her administrative remedies under section 98.7.
The trial court overruled the demurrer, relying on Lloyd v. County of Los Angeles (2009) 172 Cal.App.4th 320 [90
Cal.Rptr.3d 872]. The case was tried before the jury on the section 1102.5, subdivision (b) cause of action alone, as all Gallup’s other causes of action were disposed of by demurrer or summary judgment. The jury found in Gallup’s favor, awarding her past economic loss in the amount of $168, 206, future economic loss in the amount of $105, 000, and past noneconomic loss in the amount of $40, 000, for a total of $313, 206.
SCNC appeals from the judgment, raising as the only issue the trial court order overruling the demurrer. We shall conclude that Campbell v. Regents of University of California (2005) 35 Cal.4th 311 [25
Cal.Rptr.3d 320, 106 P.3d 976] (Campbell), is the controlling authority, and shall reverse the judgment.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
This is an appeal from a final judgment in a case that was tried before a jury after the trial court overruled defendant SCNC’s demurrer. The only issue tendered is whether the trial court erred in overruling the demurrer. For purposes of review, we accept as true all facts properly pleaded in the complaint in order to determine whether the demurrer was properly overruled. (Guardian North Bay, Inc. v. Superior Court (2001) 94 Cal.App.4th 963, 971 [114
Cal.Rptr.2d 748].) The standard of review is de novo. (Ibid.)
Gallup was employed by SCNC as a mediator in the FCS. Beginning in late 2009, Gallup raised concerns both verbally and in writing to her superiors about FCS’s possible failure to follow applicable legal and ethical mandates. Gallup’s concerns included insufficient time for mediation appointments, inadequate review of records and gathering of facts, failure to consider criminal histories, failure to advocate for the best interests of the children, failure to offer separate mediation to domestic violence victims, and use of undue influence to pressure parents into mediated agreements.
After Gallup made the above complaints, she was subjected to criticism and accusations of behaving unethically and unprofessionally, of being ineffective, and of taking too long on cases. Her work was subject to excessive scrutiny, and she was inappropriately interrupted while engaged in mediation sessions.
In April 2010 Gallup filed a grievance against SCNC pursuant to SCNC’s Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual (Personnel Manual), alleging she was the victim of retaliation and harassment because she had voiced her concerns about violations of the California Rules of Court and the Family Code. Gallup went out on medical leave on July 2, 2010. She returned to work the day after completion of the grievance arbitration hearing, which was concluded on September 28, 2010.
On December 7, 2010, Gallup received a formal written reprimand. On December 8, 2010, she discovered a document left on the office printer when she retrieved her own work from the printer. It consisted of journal entries written by her supervisor, and was part of an effort to discredit her work performance. The next day Gallup gave the document to her attorney, then returned it to her supervisor. A day later she was called into a disciplinary meeting and accused of violating the confidentiality of the parties because she had shared the journal entries with her attorney. On December 14, 2010, Gallup received a “Notice of Intent to Dismiss from Employment.” The stated reason for the termination was Gallup’s disclosure of confidential information.
Gallup filed this action in April 2011. Her complaint contained several causes of action, including retaliation for whistleblowing pursuant to section 1102.5, subdivision (b). She alleged that she engaged in activity protected by section 1102.5, subdivision (b) when she complained to her supervisor, other court management, and the AOC, and informed them that FCS was not providing services in compliance with the law. She alleged her complaints were a contributing factor in SCNC’s decision to retaliate against her by terminating her employment.
SCNC demurred to the complaint. The trial court sustained the demurrer in part and overruled it in part. At issue in this appeal is the trial court’s overruling of the demurrer to Gallup’s cause of action under section 1102.5. SCNC had argued such claims were barred because Gallup had failed to exhaust her administrative remedies. Relying on Lloyd v. County of Los Angeles, supra, 172 Cal.App.4th 320, the trial court concluded exhaustion of the administrative procedure was not a prerequisite to a civil action.
The case proceeded to jury trial solely on Gallup’s cause of action under section 1102.5, subdivision (b). The jury found in Gallup’s ...