Turner v. City & Cnty of S.F., No. 13–15099.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtM. SMITH, Circuit Judge
Citation788 F.3d 1206
PartiesPeter TURNER, Plaintiff–Appellant, v. CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO; San Francisco Department Of Public Works; Ed Reiskin; Bruce Storrs, Defendants–Appellees.
Docket NumberNo. 13–15099.
Decision Date11 June 2015

788 F.3d 1206

Peter TURNER, Plaintiff–Appellant
v.
CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO; San Francisco Department Of Public Works; Ed Reiskin; Bruce Storrs, Defendants–Appellees.

No. 13–15099.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

Argued and Submitted Jan. 15, 2015.
Filed June 11, 2015.


788 F.3d 1208

G. Whitney Leigh (argued), Gonzalez & Leigh LLP, San Francisco, CA, for Plaintiff–Appellant.

Jonathan Rolnick (argued), Dennis J. Herrera, and Elizabeth Salveson, City Attorney's Office, San Francisco, CA, for Defendants–Appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Edward M. Chen, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. 3:11–cv–01427–EMC.

Before: J. CLIFFORD WALLACE, MILAN D. SMITH, JR. and MICHELLE T. FRIEDLAND, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

M. SMITH, Circuit Judge:

Peter Turner, a former “temporary exempt employee” of the City and County of San Francisco (the City), appeals the dismissal with prejudice of his claims against the City for wrongful discharge. Turner contends that the district court improperly dismissed his claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that the City retaliated against him for engaging in protected speech, in violation of the First Amendment. Specifically, he contends that the statements he made to his supervisors regarding the alleged unlawful hiring and use of temporary exempt employees in contravention of the San Francisco Charter (Charter) were related to a matter of “public concern,” and were therefore protected by the First Amendment.

After permitting Turner to amend his complaint five times, the district court properly concluded that he had failed to state a claim under the First Amendment. Turner's communications were focused on, and driven by, a private grievance about his specific employment situation; he was not speaking as a citizen on a matter of public concern.

All other claims raised on appeal by Turner are addressed in a memorandum disposition filed concurrently with this opinion. We affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

We recount the facts as alleged in Turner's Fifth Amended Complaint, accepting them as true for purposes of the City's motion to dismiss. In 2007, the San Francisco Department of Public Works (DPW) announced an opening for a permanent “survey assistant” position. After completing examinations required for a permanent position, Turner was informed that he had been hired as a survey assistant. Turner was not informed until the day he started work that he had been hired as a “temporary exempt employee,” rather than as a permanent civil service employee, despite the fact that he had interviewed and been tested for a permanent position. Turner alleges that he would not have left his other employment had he known DPW was hiring him as a temporary employee. Five other individuals were also hired as temporary exempt employees at about the same time.

Turner claims that DPW manager, Bruce Storrs (Storrs) engaged in a scheme to subvert Section 10.104 of the Charter, which authorizes the hiring of temporary employees only for special projects or professional services with limited funding. Turner alleges that, in violation of the Charter, he worked on many core department tasks, and was given extra responsibility that was incongruent with his compensation. Turner also alleges that Storrs

788 F.3d 1209

and Robert Hanley (Hanley), the DPW Chief Surveyor, attempted to force Turner to approve maps and surveys he had not supervised. Storrs refused to promote Turner to a permanent position, and instead hired individuals who were less qualified than Turner.

Turner alleges that this hiring scheme was part of a broader plan by the City and Storrs—via DPW—to underbid survey work for other City and County agencies in order to “corner the market” on this work, and to make up the money by overcharging the public for mapping fees, while underpaying staff. Storrs acknowledged that the way he operated his portion of DPW “made the department money.” Turner alleges that it was illegal to use mapping fund fees to offset the cost of low survey bids.

At staff meetings, union meetings, and face-to-face meetings with Storrs and DPW officials, Turner began “speaking out against the practice” of using temporary exempt employees “in violation of civil service rules.” He also repeatedly asserted that he and other temporary exempt employees were regularly assigned to work on matters inappropriate to someone in “temporary exempt” status, and that Storrs and DPW were well aware of Turner's concerns. Turner was subsequently assigned to perform “map checking,” a task Storrs acknowledged he used to punish individuals who “did not follow instructions.”

Storrs and DPW blocked Turner's attempts at promotion, and “intervened to overturn a permanent surveying job offer that had been extended to Turner for work at the City's airport.” Turner wrote to the human resources agent handling the position and told her that he planned to expose these policies, and to report them to whatever authority would hold Storrs and DPW responsible. Shortly thereafter, Turner was summoned to a meeting with a human resources representative, Storrs, and Storrs's supervisor, during which he was “asked hostile and intimidating questions by Storrs.” Turner restated his concerns about the unlawful practices, and immediately after the meeting, Storrs informed Turner that he would be fired. The next day, DPW Director Ed Reiskin sent Turner a letter confirming his termination.

After being fired, Turner continued to inquire about new permanent survey assistant position...

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73 practice notes
  • Mucky Duck v. Directv, LLC (In re Nat'l Football League's Sunday Ticket Antitrust Litig.), No. 17-56119
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • August 13, 2019
    ...of material fact as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Turner v. City & Cty. of S.F. , 788 F.3d 1206, 1210 (9th Cir. 2015). However, "conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are insufficient to avoid a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal." Cousi......
  • Wieck v. CIT Grp., Inc., Civ. No. 16–00596 JMS–RLP
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Hawaii)
    • March 30, 2018
    ...purposes of these Motions, the court assumes the following factual allegations are true. See, e.g., Turner v. City & Cty. of S.F. , 788 F.3d 1206, 1210 (9th Cir. 2015) ("In assessing whether a party has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted, a court must take all allegations of ma......
  • Greenfield MHP Assocs., L.P. v. Ametek, Inc., CASE NO. 3:15-cv-1525-GPC-BGS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • November 18, 2015
    ...a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 676–84, 129 S.Ct. 1937 ; Turner v. City & Cty. of San Francisco , 788 F.3d 1206, 1210 (9th Cir.2015) (noting that “conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are insufficient to avoid a Rule 12(b)(6) dismiss......
  • Chaudhry v. Angell, 1:16-cv-01243-SAB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • September 29, 2021
    ...Francisco, No. C-11-1427 EMC, 2012 WL 6631490, at *6 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 19, 2012), aff'd sub nom. Turner v. City & Cty. of San Francisco, 788 F.3d 1206 (9th Cir. 2015), aff'd sub nom. Turner v. City & Cty. of San Francisco, 617 Fed.Appx. 674 (9th Cir. 2015) (quoting Hyland v. Wonder, 972 F.2d ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
73 cases
  • Mucky Duck v. Directv, LLC (In re Nat'l Football League's Sunday Ticket Antitrust Litig.), No. 17-56119
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • August 13, 2019
    ...of material fact as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Turner v. City & Cty. of S.F. , 788 F.3d 1206, 1210 (9th Cir. 2015). However, "conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are insufficient to avoid a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal." Cousi......
  • Wieck v. CIT Grp., Inc., Civ. No. 16–00596 JMS–RLP
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Hawaii)
    • March 30, 2018
    ...purposes of these Motions, the court assumes the following factual allegations are true. See, e.g., Turner v. City & Cty. of S.F. , 788 F.3d 1206, 1210 (9th Cir. 2015) ("In assessing whether a party has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted, a court must take all allegations of ma......
  • Greenfield MHP Assocs., L.P. v. Ametek, Inc., CASE NO. 3:15-cv-1525-GPC-BGS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • November 18, 2015
    ...a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 676–84, 129 S.Ct. 1937 ; Turner v. City & Cty. of San Francisco , 788 F.3d 1206, 1210 (9th Cir.2015) (noting that “conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are insufficient to avoid a Rule 12(b)(6) dismiss......
  • Chaudhry v. Angell, 1:16-cv-01243-SAB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • September 29, 2021
    ...Francisco, No. C-11-1427 EMC, 2012 WL 6631490, at *6 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 19, 2012), aff'd sub nom. Turner v. City & Cty. of San Francisco, 788 F.3d 1206 (9th Cir. 2015), aff'd sub nom. Turner v. City & Cty. of San Francisco, 617 Fed.Appx. 674 (9th Cir. 2015) (quoting Hyland v. Wonder, 972 F.2d ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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