United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER RE MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [DOC. NO. 35,
CATHY ANN BENCIVENGO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendants' motions for
summary judgment. The motions have been fully briefed, and
the Court deems them suitable for submission without oral
argument. For the following reasons, the motions are granted.
Paradigmworks Group, Inc. (“PGI”), provided
outreach admission services pursuant to a subcontract with
Defendant Cornerstone Solutions, Inc.
(“Cornerstone”) in San Diego, California. PGI
first hired Plaintiff Corinna Ruiz as an outreach and
admissions counselor at its El Centro, California, office in
October 2009. [Doc. No. 37-3 at 19.] Her job duties included
recruiting, interviewing, and processing prospective
employees, providing customer service and answering phone
calls and emails, and working with agencies and schools.
[Id. at 23-24.] On October 31, 2014, PGI relocated
Ruiz to an office in San Diego after the El Centro office
closed. [Id. at 70.] PGI's subcontract with
Cornerstone required PGI to have five admissions counselors
performing the scope of work of the subcontract, with
acceptable staff vacancy periods not to exceed thirty days.
[Doc. No. 47-1 at 7.]
November 11, 2015, Ruiz fell and broke her ankle. [Doc. No.
40-2 at ¶¶ 2-3.] Following the fall, Ruiz's
doctor faxed a note to PGI stating that Ruiz was temporarily
totally disabled from November 16 to 20, 2015. [Id.
at ¶ 3; Doc. No. 37-3 at 99.] On November 20, 2015,
Ruiz's doctor provided another note to PGI stating that
Ruiz would be temporarily totally disabled through February
22, 2016. [Doc. No. 40-2 at ¶ 4; Doc. No. 37-3 at 101.]
On November 23, 2015, Ruiz underwent surgery on her ankle.
[Doc. No. 40-2 at ¶ 4.] Based on these notes from her
doctor, PGI provided Ruiz with unpaid leave through February
22, 2016. [Doc. No. 40-8 at 2.] While Ruiz was on leave, Ruiz
could not perform any essential functions of her job. [Doc.
No. 37-3 at 30.] Meanwhile, Ruiz received disability benefits
from state of California from November 21, 2015 through
September 23, 2016. [Doc. No. 37-3 at 18, 48.]
February 18, 2016, Ruiz's doctor provided a new note
stating that she would be temporarily totally disabled
through April 1, 2016. [Doc. No. 37-3 at 114.] On February
29, 2016, PGI terminated Ruiz's employment. [Doc. No.
37-3 at 116.] PGI's president, however, invited Ruiz to
apply for any positions that became available when she was
able to work again. [Doc. No. 37-3 at 83-84, 90-91.] A
position with PGI subsequently became available, but Ruiz did
not apply. [Doc. No. 37-3 at 92.]
familiar summary judgment standard applies here. A party is
entitled to summary judgment “if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of
law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
322 (1986); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. To avoid
summary judgment, disputes must be both 1) material, meaning
concerning facts that are relevant and necessary and that
might affect the outcome of the action under governing law,
and 2) genuine, meaning the evidence must be such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248 (1986); Cline v. Indus. Maint. Eng'g &
Contracting Co., 200 F.3d 1223, 1229 (9th Cir. 2000)
(citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248).
the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact falls on the moving party. See
Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-323. If the moving party
can demonstrate that its opponent has not made a sufficient
showing on an essential element of his case, the burden
shifts to the opposing party to set forth facts showing that
a genuine issue of disputed fact remains. Id. at
324. When ruling on a summary judgment motion, the court must
view all inferences drawn from the underlying facts in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
587 (1986). However, “[t]he district court need not
examine the entire file for evidence establishing a genuine
issue of fact, where the evidence is not set forth in the
opposing papers with adequate references so that it could
conveniently be found.” Carmen v. San Francisco
Unified Sch. Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1031 (9th Cir. 2001).
however, Ruiz's employers (or alleged employers) are
moving for summary judgment meaning:
“the burden is reversed . . . because the defendant who
seeks summary judgment bears the initial burden.”
Dep't of Fair Emp't & Hous. v. Lucent Techs.,
Inc., 642 F.3d 728, 745 (9th Cir. 2011) (quotation
omitted). “Thus, [t]o prevail on summary judgment, [the
employer is] required to show either that (1) plaintiff could
not establish one of the elements of [the] FEHA claim or (2)
there was a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its
decision to terminate plaintiff's employment.”
Id. (quotation omitted) (alterations in original).
If the employer meets its burden, the discharged employee
must demonstrate either “that the defendant's
showing was in fact insufficient or ... that there was a
triable issue of fact material to the defendant's
showing.” Id. at 746 (quotation omitted)
(omission in original).
Lawler v. Montblanc N. Am., LLC, 704 F.3d 1235, 1242
(9th Cir. 2013).
PGI's Motion for Summary Judgment