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Gunchick v. Federal Insurance Co.

United States District Court, C.D. California

April 16, 2015

JEFFREY GUNCHICK, Plaintiff,
v.
FEDERAL INSURANCE COMPANY; and DOES 1 through 20, inclusive, Defendants.

ORDER Re: DEFENDANT FIC'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT [22]

RONALD S.W. LEW, Senior District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Currently before the Court is Defendant Federal Insurance Company's ("FIC" or "Defendant") Motion for Summary Judgment or, in the Alternative, Partial Summary Judgment [22]. The Court, having reviewed all papers and arguments submitted pertaining to this Motion, NOW FINDS AND RULES AS FOLLOWS: The Court DENIES Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

Motion for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine issue is one in which the evidence is such that a reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The evidence, and any inferences based on underlying facts, must be viewed in a light most favorable to the opposing party. Diaz v. American Tel. & Tel. , 752 F.2d 1356, 1358 n.1 (9th Cir. 1985).

Where the moving party does not have the burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue, the moving party may meet its burden for summary judgment by showing an "absence of evidence" to support the non-moving party's case. Celotex v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986).

The non-moving party, on the other hand, is required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e) to go beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324. Conclusory allegations unsupported by factual allegations, however, are insufficient to create a triable issue of fact so as to preclude summary judgment. Hansen v. United States , 7 F.3d 137, 138 (9th Cir. 1993) (citing Marks v. Dep't of Justice , 578 F.2d 261, 263 (9th Cir. 1978)). A non-moving party who has the burden of proof at trial must present enough evidence that a "fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the [opposing party] on the evidence presented." Anderson , 477 U.S. at 255. In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court's function is not to weigh the evidence, but only to determine if a genuine issue of material fact exists. Id.

B. Analysis

a. Summary Judgment on the Wrongful Termination Claim

At the summary judgment stage of a claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy, courts follow a three part burden-shifting framework established in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green , 411 U.S. 792 (1973):

In the first stage, the plaintiff must show (1) he or she engaged in a protected activity, (2) the employer subjected the employee to an adverse employment action, and (3) a causal link existed between the protected activity and the employer's action. If the employee successfully establishes these elements and thereby shows a prima facie case exists, the burden shifts to the employer to provide evidence that there was a legitimate, nonretaliatory reason for the adverse employment action. If the employer produces evidence showing a legitimate reason for the adverse employment action, the presumption of retaliation drops out of the picture, and the burden shifts back to the employee to provide substantial responsive evidence that the employer's proffered reasons were untrue or pretextual.

Loggins v. Kaiser Permanente Int'l , 151 Cal.App.4th 1102, 1109 (2007)(internal citations and punctuation omitted). Each ...


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