United States District Court, E.D. California
case asserting age and gender-based discrimination, the court
previously granted motions to dismiss brought by the County
of El Dorado (the County), Pamela Knorr and Vernon Pierson
(collectively, “defendants”), with leave to
amend. ECF No. 23. Plaintiff Kelly Webb filed her first
amended complaint on January 18, 2016 as ordered. First
Amended Complaint (FAC), ECF No. 26. Defendants now move to
dismiss her amended federal claims. ECF Nos. 28-1, 29-1,
31-1. Plaintiff opposed. ECF No. 32. Defendants each replied.
ECF Nos. 33, 34, 35. The court held a hearing on March 11,
2016. Douglas Watts appeared for plaintiff, C. Christine
Maloney appeared for the County, Kristin Blocher appeared for
Knorr, and John Bridges appeared for Vernon Pierson.
explained below, the motions are granted in full with leave
to amend plaintiff’s §§ 1985 and 1986 claims.
filed the original complaint against defendants Joseph Harn,
Knorr, Pierson, and the County on June 2, 2015, alleging four
state claims, which are not at issue here, and three federal
claims: (1) a First Amendment claim against the County based
on 42 U.S.C. § 1983, (2) conspiracy to violate her
rights based on age and gender based on U.S.C. § 1985,
and (3) neglecting to prevent the violation of her civil
rights based on age and gender against all defendants.
See generally ECF No. 1. Plaintiff subsequently
voluntarily dismissed Harn a month later. ECF No. 7.
Defendants Knorr, Pierson, and the County each moved to
dismiss the federal claims. ECF Nos. 9, 10, 12. As noted, on
December 23, 2015, the court granted the motion to dismiss in
full with leave to amend. Order, ECF No. 23.
Plaintiff’s first amended complaint sets forth seven
claims: (1) violations of civil rights law, 42 U.S.C. §
1983 against defendant County; (2) conspiracy to violate
plaintiff’s civil rights based on her gender, 42 U.S.C.
§ 1985 against all defendants; (3) neglect to prevent
violation of civil rights law, 42 U.S.C. § 1986 against
all defendants; (4) age discrimination under Fair Employment
and Housing Act (FEHA), California Government Code section
12940, et seq. against defendant County; (5)
gender-based discrimination under FEHA against defendant
County; (6) retaliation under FEHA against defendant County;
and (7) failure to prevent discrimination and retaliation
under FEHA against defendant County. At issue here are the
first three federal claims.
support of its pending motion, the County requests the court
to take judicial notice of the following exhibits:
(1) Exhibits A-E: Minutes of the County’s Board of
Supervisors (the Board) meetings;
(2) Exhibit F: Resolution No. 127-2011 adopted by the Board
to assign responsibility for the role of County Chief
Technology Officer to Vern Pierson;
(3) Exhibit G: A staff memo by Terri Daly in support of
Resolution No. 127-2011;
(4) Exhibit H: Excerpt of Resolution No. 015-2014 adopted by
the Board to update the language in the County of El Dorado
(5) Exhibit I: Resolution No. 199-2014 adopted by the Board
on November 21, 2014, to specify the number and
classification of all authorized positions for each
department of the County;
(6) Exhibit J: A staff memo by Pierson in support of
Resolution No. 199-2014; and
(7) Exhibit K: Excerpts of the County’s salary
ECF No. 30, Exs. A-K. Plaintiff does not oppose the request
for judicial notice. The documents, other than the salary
schedule, are all available to the public online at the
County’s Board of Supervisors’ website. See
of a government agency’s board meeting may be
judicially noticed as public records. Sumner Peck Ranch,
Inc. v. Bureau of Reclamation, 823 F.Supp. 715, 724
(E.D. Cal. 1993). This court previously has found a
County’s Board of Supervisors’ resolutions and
administrative decisions are judicially noticeable.
Sacramento Cty. Retired Employees Ass’n v. Cty. of
Sacramento, 975 F.Supp.2d 1150, 1154 (E.D. Cal. 2013)
(citations omitted). Staff memoranda are also judicially
noticeable. Comm. for Reasonable Regulation of Lake Tahoe
v. Tahoe Reg’l Planning Agency, 311 F.Supp.2d 972,
1000 (D. Nev. 2004). Lastly, information on government agency
websites is also frequently a proper subject for judicial
notice. Paralyzed Veterans of Am. v. McPherson, No.
06-4670, 2008 WL 4183981, at *5 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 9, 2008).
The court takes judicial notice of the fact these documents,
including the one excerpt, exist.
is a 53-year-old woman without a college degree. FAC
¶¶ 1, 39. She worked for the County full-time from
May 11, 1985 until her premature retirement in 2015.
Id. ¶ 11. Plaintiff was chosen by then-Chief
Administrative Officer (CAO) Terri Daly to oversee the
County’s Information Technologies (IT) Department on
February 15, 2011, and was formally appointed as acting IT
Director in March 2011, and provided with a substantial pay
raise by the County. Id.
2013, the Board unanimously voted to approve plaintiff as the
permanent IT Director. Id. ¶ 13. A month later,
the Board reversed its decision, and plaintiff became the
interim IT Director, allegedly because of disparaging
comments made by the County’s Auditor Joseph Harn
regarding plaintiff’s professional abilities.
Id. ¶ 14. In the same month, former County HR
Director Knobelauch resigned and Knorr was appointed the new
HR Director, effective September 7, 2013. Not long after
defendant Pierson, the County’s District Attorney (DA)
and Chief Technology Officer (CTO), asked plaintiff about her
retirement plans. Id. ¶ 17. Plaintiff told
Pierson she had no intention of retiring. Id.
Pierson and Knorr met on several occasions without plaintiff
to discuss changing the IT Department’s management
structure. Id. ¶ 18. Plaintiff learned from
David Russell, who was the Assistant IT Director at the time,
that the meeting was part of a plan to remove plaintiff from
her interim IT Director position. Id.
asked plaintiff about her retirement plans again some time
later. He told plaintiff there were “political issues
brewing” within the County, and her employment future
was thus “not safe.” Id. ¶ 19.
Specifically, there was “a very good chance” Joe
Harn would win the re-election and remain County Auditor for
another four years, and, if Harn were re-elected, Pierson
said plaintiff would likely lose her job. Id.
Pierson urged plaintiff to “think about [her]
options” and move out of IT into another department,
because “sometimes bad things happen to good
same day, plaintiff met with Daly and, later on February 12,
2014, with Knorr to complain about Pierson’s comments,
because she believed Pierson’s comments were
discriminatory and motivated by plaintiff’s age and
gender. Id. ¶¶ 20-21. Knorr brushed her
concerns aside and instead asked plaintiff if there were any
positions plaintiff would be interested in, other than the IT
Department Director. Id. ¶¶ 21, 30.
about February 13, 2014, Daly informed plaintiff she had
followed up with Pierson regarding plaintiff’s
complaint. Id. ¶ 22. Pierson later apologized
in light of the fact that plaintiff’s father had
recently passed away when he made his comments to her.