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Broadnax v. Adams & Associates, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 5, 2017



          Troy L. Nunley United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court pursuant to Defendant Adams & Associates, Inc.'s (“Defendant”) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. (ECF No. 18.) Plaintiff Sheila Broadnax (“Plaintiff) opposes the motion. (ECF No. 21.) Defendant has filed a reply. (ECF No. 22.) For the reasons detailed below, the Court hereby GRANTS Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings (ECF No. 18).

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff was employed as a Residential Advisor for Sacramento Job Corps Center (“SJCC”), a career development facility for at-risk young adults. (ECF No. 18-1 ¶¶ 9-10.) Plaintiff is an African-American female over 40 years of age. (ECF No. 18-1 ¶¶ 27, 35, & 44.) Plaintiff alleges during her 12-year tenure at SJCC she had no disciplinary history and worked “with support and praise from her supervisors.” (ECF No. 18-1 ¶ 11.) Plaintiff alleges she was an active member of California Federation of Teachers Union (“CFTU”). (ECF No. 18-1 ¶ 12.)

         In February 2014, Defendant became the new managing corporation of SJCC. (ECF No. 18-1 ¶ 13.) Defendant evaluated all SJCC employees and rehired some, including Plaintiff who was rehired as a Residential Advisor in March 2014. (ECF No. 18-1 ¶¶ 14-15.) Defendant fired Plaintiff in April 2014 for “sleeping on the job, failing to follow directives, and poorly performing tasks at work.” (ECF No 18-1 ¶¶ 16-17.) Plaintiff alleges Defendant “used a single incident where she closed her eyes while entering time on her timecard as grounds to falsely accuse her of sleeping at work.” (ECF No. 18-1 ¶¶ 18-19.) Plaintiff alleges she was not provided with any progressive discipline or process. (ECF No. 18-1 ¶ 19.)

         On November 18, 2015, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the Superior Court of Sacramento County. (ECF No. 18-1 at 4.) Defendant answered in the Superior Court denying each claim and asserting affirmative defenses. (ECF No. 1-1 at 21-27.) On February 12, 2016, Defendant removed this action to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. (ECF No. 1.) Defendant then moved for judgment on the pleadings contending that Plaintiff fails to state any claim on which relief can be granted. (ECF No. 18 at 7.)

         Plaintiff alleges claims for violations of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) and common law, including: (i) age, sex, and race discrimination in violation of California Government Code § 12940(a); (ii) wrongful termination in violation of public policy; (iii) retaliation in violation of California Government Code § 12940(h); (iv) failure to prevent discrimination in violation of California Government Code § 12940(k); and (v) intentional infliction of emotional distress. (ECF No. 18-1 at 4, 6-14.)

         II. Standard of Law

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides “[a]fter the pleadings are closed - but early enough not to delay trial - a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). The issue presented by a Rule 12(c) motion is substantially the same as that posed in a 12(b) motion - whether the factual allegations of the complaint, together with all reasonable inferences, state a plausible claim for relief. See Cafasso v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., 637 F.3d 1047, 1054-1055 (9th Cir. 2011). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)).

         In analyzing a 12(c) motion, the district court “must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Fleming v. Pickard, 581 F.3d 922, 925 (9th Cir. 2009). Nevertheless, a court “need not assume the truth of legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations.” United States ex rel. Chunie v. Ringrose, 788 F.2d 638, 643 n.2 (9th Cir. 1986). “A judgment on the pleadings is properly granted when, taking all the allegations in the non-moving party's pleadings as true, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Ventress v. Japan Airlines, 603 F.3d 676, 681 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted).

         A judgment on the pleadings is not appropriate if the Court “goes beyond the pleadings to resolve an issue; such a proceeding must properly be treated as a motion for summary judgment.” Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1550 (9th Cir. 1989); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). A district court may, however, “consider certain materials - documents attached to the complaint, documents incorporated by reference in the complaint, or matters of judicial notice - without converting the motion to dismiss [or motion for judgment on the pleadings] into a motion for summary judgment.” United States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir. 2003).

         “While Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not expressly provide for partial judgment on the pleadings, neither does it bar such a procedure; it is common to apply Rule 12(c) to individual causes of action.” Strigliabotti v. Franklin Res., Inc., 398 F.Supp.2d 1094, 1097 (N.D. Cal. 2005) (citing Moran v. Peralta Cmty. Coll. Dist., 825 F.Supp. 891, 893 (N.D. Cal. 1993)). Courts have the discretion in appropriate cases to grant a Rule 12(c) motion with leave to amend, or to simply grant dismissal of the action instead of entry of judgment. See Lonberg v. City of Riverside, 300 F.Supp.2d 942, 945 (C.D. Cal. 2004); Carmen v. S.F. Unified Sch. Dist., 982 F.Supp. 1396, 1401 (N.D. Cal. 1997).

         III. Analysis

         Defendant argues Plaintiff failed to plead sufficient facts to support any of her claims. (ECF No. 18 at 7.) The ...

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