Singson v. Farber et al

Filing 113


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1 2 3 4 5 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 6 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 7 8 DANNY M. SINGSON, 9 Plaintiff, United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 12 No. C 11-1863 SI Related Case No. C 09-5023 SI ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT v. CITY OF MILLBRAE, et al., Defendants. / 13 14 On March 9, 2012, the Court held a hearing on defendants’ motion for summary judgment. For 15 the reasons discussed at the hearing, the Court finds that there are triable issues of fact on plaintiff’s 16 retaliation claims sufficient to defeat summary judgment. 17 With regard to plaintiff’s First Amendment retaliation claim, the Court finds that the first 18 amended complaint in Singson v. Farber et al., C 09-5023 SI constitutes speech and/or petitioning 19 activity on a matter of public concern because the FAC alleged that the City and Raffaelli were 20 retaliating against him for filing a race discrimination lawsuit. See Thomas v. City of Beaverton, 379 21 F.3d 802, 809 (9th Cir. 2004) (“Unlawful conduct by a government employee or illegal activity within 22 a government agency is a matter of public concern.”). To the extent the October 2010 and December 23 2010 internal complaints alleged that Raffaelli was retaliating against plaintiff because of the 2009 24 lawsuit, those complaints also constitute speech and/or petitioning activity on a matter of public 25 concern. The Court further finds that there are disputes of fact regarding whether plaintiff’s conduct 26 was a substantial or motivating factor in the adverse employment actions, and whether defendants would 27 28 1 have taken the same actions but-for plaintiff’s complaints.1 Finally, the Court finds that the alleged acts 2 of retaliation, when taken together, are reasonably likely to deter plaintiff from engaging in activity 3 protected under the First Amendment. See Coszalter v. City of Salem, 320 F.3d 968, 976-77 (9th Cir. 4 2003). The Court has received a copy of plaintiff’s DFEH complaints. The FEHA protects employees 6 against retaliation for opposing conduct made unlawful by the act. See Cal. Gov’t Code § 12940(h). 7 Plaintiff’s April 12, 2011 and December 20, 2011 DFEH complaints allege, inter alia, that plaintiff 8 became the target of retaliation after filing a race discrimination lawsuit. The Court finds that because 9 plaintiff opposed conduct – race discrimination – made unlawful by FEHA, plaintiff can maintain a 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 5 claim for retaliation under FEHA. For the same reasons set forth above, the Court finds that there are 11 triable issues of fact as to whether defendants retaliated against plaintiff based on his protected activity. 12 Accordingly, the Court DENIES defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Docket No. 24. 13 14 15 IT IS SO ORDERED. 16 17 Dated: March 9, 2012 SUSAN ILLSTON United States District Judge 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 1 The Court notes that defendants have objected to certain evidence submitted by plaintiff. The Court finds that there is sufficient admissible evidence to create genuine disputes of fact, and that defendants may renew their objections to specific evidence at the time of trial. 2

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