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September 2022

Gordon & Rees Team Successfully Defends Summary Judgment Victory in California Appellate Win

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani partners Robyn Leonard, Mark Posard, and Don Willenburg successfully defended a summary judgment victory on behalf of a school district and two of its employees following an appeal to the Court of Appeal of the State of California, First Appellate District.

The plaintiff is a former elementary school principal who was transferred to a teaching position following demonstrated shortcomings in job performance, competence and leadership. After plaintiff failed to appear for her first day of school as a teacher, the school district reported her to the California Teaching Commission (“CTC”) for job abandonment.  The plaintiff filed suit, alleging that she had been discriminated against and harassed based on her race, and that she was demoted and reported to the CTC for making complaints about discrimination and unfair treatment.

Defendants moved for summary judgment, citing in part requests for admission that had been deemed admitted, asserting that plaintiff could not prove her claims of discrimination, retaliation or harassment. The trial court granted defendants’ motion, finding that defendants had met their burden of showing that no triable issue of material fact existed as to plaintiff’s claims, and that no reasonable jury could find in her favor based on their evidentiary submission.

The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by disregarding evidence of a hostile work environment.  She contended that the trial court’s order granting a motion to compel her deposition “necessarily vacated” its earlier order deeming requests for admission as admitted, and that defendants took a “contrary position” by litigating facts after the order issued. The plaintiff further alleged that the trial court’s discovery rulings in general were so excessive as to deprive her of her due process rights. Robyn Leonard argued the case and the Court of Appeal agreed with Robyn and the firm that plaintiff’s arguments were without merit and that the trial court properly dismissed plaintiff’s claims, affirming the judgment of the court below.

Robyn A. Leonard
Mark S. Posard
Don Willenburg