Cook v. State, Dept. of Transp., No. 22672

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho
Writing for the CourtKIDWELL, Justice.
Citation133 Idaho 288,985 P.2d 1150
PartiesCathy COOK, individually and on behalf of the United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. STATE of Idaho, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Jim Ross, Devin Rigby, Defendants-Respondents. Cathy Cook, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. State of Idaho, Department of Transportation, Jim Ross, Devin Rigby and John Does I through X, Defendants-Respondents.
Docket Number No. 22672, No. 24358.
Decision Date31 August 1999

985 P.2d 1150
133 Idaho 288

Cathy COOK, individually and on behalf of the United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
STATE of Idaho, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Jim Ross, Devin Rigby, Defendants-Respondents.
Cathy Cook, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
State of Idaho, Department of Transportation, Jim Ross, Devin Rigby and John Does I through X, Defendants-Respondents

Nos. 22672, 24358.

Supreme Court of Idaho, Idaho Falls, May 1999 Term.

August 31, 1999.


985 P.2d 1153
Stephen A. Meikle, Idaho Falls, for appellant

Hon. Alan G. Lance, Attorney General, Boise; and Thompson and Stephens, P.A., Idaho Falls, for respondents. J. Michael Wheiler argued.

KIDWELL, Justice.

This is an employment discrimination case. The appellant terminated her employment after being turned down for a promotion. She claimed that she was discriminated against because the senior technician promotion she sought was closed when she was the only woman who applied. Appellant was denied relief by a grievance panel of appellant's employer, the Idaho Human Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After a jury trial again denied appellant relief, she filed an appeal with this Court. We affirm the decision of the district court.

I.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

After obtaining an Associates Degree, Cathy Cook was hired by the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) in May of 1988 as an apprentice technician in Idaho Falls. Cook was assigned to District Six with offices in Rigby and Idaho Falls. Defendant Devin Rigby was the resident engineer for Idaho Falls and Defendant Jim Ross was the resident engineer for the Rigby office. After six months in the Idaho Falls office, Cook was promoted to a transportation technician.

At trial, Cook testified that her second assignment was with a crew from District Five surveying the Blackfoot interchange. During this survey she noticed the crew was not following procedure. When she reported the problem to her supervisor, she testified that she was told to work on getting along with others. During this project she noticed other discrepancies which she did not report.

In July of 1991, two positions came open for senior technicians, one in Rigby and the other in Idaho Falls. Cook applied for each position but was turned down for both. A male employee was promoted to the Rigby position and the Idaho Falls position was not filled. When Cook inquired as to the closing of the position, she was told that the Idaho Falls register did not have enough applicants.

Her supervisor, Rigby, told her the reasons why she was not promoted and suggested it might help if she "use[d] the fact that she was a woman at the next interview." Rigby also informed Cook that he thought she had a bad attitude. Cook reported the conversation and Rigby was given a written reprimand for his comments.

On July 25, 1991, Cook filed a grievance with ITD concerning the decision not to fill the Idaho Falls position. The grievance resulted in meetings between Ross, Rigby and Cook. The grievance process culminated in a decision by a three-person panel which concluded that the panel could not resolve the issue. The panel decided that it was within the ITD management's prerogative whether or not to fill the position, and that Cook and her superiors should work on their communications.

On October 31, 1991, Cook filed a complaint with the Idaho Human Rights Commission (IHRC) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In her complaint Cook asserted that she had been discriminated against based on her sex when "[r]espondent closed the promotion offering and said that the position would not be filled." On April 3, 1992, Cook amended her EEOC complaint to add a claim of "retaliation," which she believed resulted from bringing her discrimination claim. On August 17, 1992, the IHRC concluded that no discrimination based on sex had occurred and dismissed the complaint. On September 25, 1992, the EEOC adopted the IHRC's findings and likewise dismissed the claim.

In July of 1992, Cook interviewed for the reopened senior technician position in the Idaho Falls office. In light of Cook's civil rights complaints, Rigby requested that others from outside the district perform the interviews. Rigby gave the panel the questions for the applicants. The questions were weighted to show which questions the resident engineer, Rigby, thought were most

985 P.2d 1154
important. Based on the panel's recommendation, the position was filled by an employee other than Cook

In 1991, at an engineers' conference, Ross spoke with other district engineers about the complaints filed by Cook. Cook maintains that these conversations were the reason she was not able to transfer to other districts which had openings at the time.

Also in 1991, Ross called Cook's physicians to discuss Cook's health. Cook was not informed of the calls until after they were made.

In 1992, a contractor complained to Rigby that Cook was not taking the required test samples on one of the projects. After Rigby had conducted an investigation, ITD hired a private investigator to investigate the allegations against Cook. The investigator concluded that the evidence concerning Cook was inconclusive. During the investigation, she was suspended with pay. Following the suspension, a written letter of reprimand was placed in Cook's file.

On October 29, 1992, Cook gave notice to ITD, terminating her employment on November 6, 1992.

On December 17, 1992, Cook filed a complaint in United States District Court. Her complaint alleged a due process violation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and discrimination under Title VII, as well as wrongful discharge claims under state law. Following the defendants' motion to dismiss, the United States District Court dismissed Cook's § 1983 claim and her state law claims on July 19, 1993. However, the court granted Cook leave to remove her state law claims, as well as her § 1983 claim and her Title VII claim, to state court.

Cook filed a complaint in state court on November 12, 1993. Her complaint alleged claims for relief for discrimination under Title VII, "retaliation," violation of privacy, tortious interference with contract, unlawful termination, defamation, sexual harassment, "violation of morals or public policy," negligent infliction of emotional distress and intentional infliction of emotional distress and punitive damages. The defendants named were the State of Idaho, Department of Transportation, Jim Ross, Devin Rigby, Joyce Riley, Delayne Newcomb, Todd Tuckett, John Does I-X and Jane Does I-X.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss and a motion to strike on November 30, 1993. On December 17, 1993, the district court dismissed the claim of "violation of morals or public policy" and the claim for punitive damages. On November 12, 1993, Cook amended her complaint to strengthen her discrimination claim.

On March 16, 1994, the defendants filed a motion for partial summary judgment. On April 18, 1994, Cook filed a second amended complaint to include a claim for relief for spoliation of evidence and violation of § 1983 under the Fourteenth Amendment.

On June 3, 1994, Cook filed a third amended complaint in the form of a sealed complaint. On June 9, 1994, Cook again amended her complaint to add a claim of assault. On June 29, 1994, the court ordered that Cook submit another amended complaint which should separate the sealed False Claims Act claims from the remaining unsealed claims.

Cook subsequently filed her fifth and sixth amended complaints. In response, the defendants filed motions to strike, dismiss and for summary judgment.

On September 21, 1994, the district court entered a memorandum decision regarding the defendants' motions. Of the thirteen counts that Cook had pled, the court dismissed all but three because Cook had missed the 180-day notice requirement for tort claims. The court ruled that the 180 days should begin to run on the date of resignation rather than the date of her last day of work. Notice of resignation was given on October 29, 1992, and the notice of tort claim was filed May 5, 1993, 188 days later.

The court allowed count I, for Title VII discrimination, to proceed, although, the court limited the claim to the state and ITD rather than individual state employees. The court also allowed count XI, spoliation of evidence, to proceed, provided that Cook amend her complaint to allege negligent spoliation. However, the court ruled that this claim could only be brought at the conclusion

985 P.2d 1155
of the proceedings on the underlying claims for relief. Finally, the court allowed count XII, the § 1983 due process claim to continue, provided that no reference be made to the state or to state officials in their official capacity

On November 3, 1994, the United States Attorney for the District of Idaho filed a notice of removal with the United States District Court in order to remove Cook's third amended complaint to federal court. On December 9, 1994, the United States Attorney filed notice with the Federal District Court that the United States would not intervene or participate in the proceedings concerning Cook's federal False Claims Act claims. On January 11, 1995, the United States District Court granted the defendants' motion to remand the case.

On July 5, 1995, Cook moved to have defendant Joyce Riley dismissed from the case. The motion was granted on the same day.

On August 1, 1995, defendants filed their second motion for partial summary judgment. On August 10, 1995, Cook filed her seventh amended complaint.

The district court issued its memorandum decision on October 2, 1995. The court ruled that Cook was barred from asserting a Title VII claim regarding the 1991 Rigby senior technician promotion. The court also dismissed Cook's § 1983 claims relating to loss of promotion and transfer, violation of due process, sexual harassment, and all Jane and John Does. The court further ruled that Cook's...

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12 practice notes
  • Baxter v. Craney, No. 25549.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • December 15, 2000
    ...to deny an amendment to pleadings is reviewed by this Court under an abuse of discretion standard. See Cook v. State Dep't of Transp., 133 Idaho 288, 296, 985 P.2d 1150, 1158 (1999). In determining whether the trial court has abused its discretion, this Court applies the three-factor test a......
  • Raymond v. Idaho State Police, Docket No. 46272
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • October 18, 2019
    ...an independent tort for spoliation of evidence was warranted arose again before this Court in Cook v. State Department of Transportation, 133 Idaho 288, 985 P.2d 1150 (1999). We explained "[e]ven though this Court has not expressly adopted spoliation of evidence in Idaho, it has recognized ......
  • Raymond v. Idaho State Police, Docket No. 46272
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • October 18, 2019
    ...an independent tort for spoliation of evidence was warranted arose again before this Court in Cook v. State Department of Transportation, 133 Idaho 288, 985 P.2d 1150 (1999). We explained "[e]ven though this Court has not expressly adopted spoliation of evidence in Idaho, it has recognized ......
  • Samuel v. Hepworth, Nungester & Lezamiz, Inc., No. 24156.
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • February 28, 2000
    ...claiming attorney fees must assert the specific statute, rule, or case authority for its claim. See Cook v. State, Dep't of Transp., 133 Idaho 288, 298, 985 P.2d 1150, 1160 (1999); Bingham v. Montane Resource Assocs., 133 Idaho 420, 424, 987 P.2d 1035, 1039 (1999). See also I.A.R. 35(b)(5) ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
12 cases
  • Baxter v. Craney, No. 25549.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • December 15, 2000
    ...to deny an amendment to pleadings is reviewed by this Court under an abuse of discretion standard. See Cook v. State Dep't of Transp., 133 Idaho 288, 296, 985 P.2d 1150, 1158 (1999). In determining whether the trial court has abused its discretion, this Court applies the three-factor test a......
  • Raymond v. Idaho State Police, Docket No. 46272
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • October 18, 2019
    ...an independent tort for spoliation of evidence was warranted arose again before this Court in Cook v. State Department of Transportation, 133 Idaho 288, 985 P.2d 1150 (1999). We explained "[e]ven though this Court has not expressly adopted spoliation of evidence in Idaho, it has recognized ......
  • Raymond v. Idaho State Police, Docket No. 46272
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • October 18, 2019
    ...an independent tort for spoliation of evidence was warranted arose again before this Court in Cook v. State Department of Transportation, 133 Idaho 288, 985 P.2d 1150 (1999). We explained "[e]ven though this Court has not expressly adopted spoliation of evidence in Idaho, it has recognized ......
  • Samuel v. Hepworth, Nungester & Lezamiz, Inc., No. 24156.
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • February 28, 2000
    ...claiming attorney fees must assert the specific statute, rule, or case authority for its claim. See Cook v. State, Dep't of Transp., 133 Idaho 288, 298, 985 P.2d 1150, 1160 (1999); Bingham v. Montane Resource Assocs., 133 Idaho 420, 424, 987 P.2d 1035, 1039 (1999). See also I.A.R. 35(b)(5) ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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