Keenan v. Allan

Decision Date12 May 1995
Docket NumberNo. CS-94-0070-AAM.,CS-94-0070-AAM.
Citation889 F. Supp. 1320
PartiesShirley D. KEENAN and Daniel E. Keenan, husband and wife, Plaintiffs, v. Wallace E. ALLAN, a married man; Janis M. Whitener-Moberg, a married woman; County of Grant By and Through the Grant County District Court and the Grant County Board of Commissioners; and Helen Fancher, Leroy Allison and Tim Snead, personally and in their representative capacities as members of the Grant County Board of County Commissioners, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Washington
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Robert A. Dunn and Keller W. Allen of McCormick, Dunn & Black, P.S., Spokane, WA, for plaintiffs Shirley D. and Daniel E. Keenan.

John Francis Kennedy, Tacoma, WA, for defendant Wallace E. Allan.

Sheryl J. Willert and Elizabeth K. Maurer of Williams, Kastner & Gibbs, Seattle, WA, for defendant Janis M. Whitener-Moberg.

Daniel E. Huntington of Richter-Wimberley, P.S., Spokane, WA, for defendants Grant County, Helen Fancher, Leroy Allison and Tim Snead.

ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT

McDONALD, District Judge.

Before the Court are Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment Re Defendant Allan's Affirmative Defenses, Ct.Rec. 185; Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment Re Defendant Whitener-Moberg's Affirmative Defenses, Ct.Rec. 190; Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment Re Defendants Grant County, Fancher, Allison and Snead's Affirmative Defenses, Ct.Rec. 188; Defendant Allan's Motion for Summary Judgment of Dismissal and for Statutory Costs, Ct.Rec. 178; Defendant Whitener-Moberg's Motion for Summary Judgment, Ct.Rec. 174; and Defendants Grant County, Allison, Fancher and Snead's Motion for Summary Judgment, Ct.Rec. 200.

At hearing without oral argument, plaintiffs ("Keenan" and "Daniel Keenan", collectively "the Keenans") were represented by Robert A. Dunn and Keller W. Allen of McCormick, Dunn & Black, P.S., Spokane, Washington. Defendant Allan was represented by John Francis Kennedy of Tacoma, Washington. Defendant Whitener-Moberg was represented by Sheryl J. Willert of Williams, Kastner & Gibbs, Seattle, Washington. Defendants Grant County ("the County"), Fancher, Allison and Snead (collectively "the County Defendants") were represented by Daniel E. Huntington of Richter-Wimberley, P.S., Spokane, Washington.

                                          CONTENTS
                A. SUMMARY ................................................................. 1335
                B. LITIGATION BACKGROUND ................................................... 1335
                C. STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ........................................... 1335
                D. AGREED FACTS ............................................................ 1336
                
                E. DISPUTED FACTS .......................................... 1351
                F. COUNT I: WRONGFUL DISCHARGE/BREACH OF CONTRACT .......... 1356
                G. COUNT II: FIRST AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT (DUE PROCESS
                   FREE SPEECH AND SEXUALLY HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT) ...... 1360
                H. COUNT III: CONSPIRACY TO VIOLATE CIVIL RIGHTS ........... 1364
                I. COUNT IV: WHISTLEBLOWER TERMINATION ..................... 1365
                J. COUNT V: RETALIATORY DISCHARGE .......................... 1366
                K. COUNT VI: SEXUAL HARASSMENT (HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT)    1370
                L. COUNT VII: AGE DISCRIMINATION ........................... 1376
                M. COUNT VIII: FAILURE TO PAY WAGES ........................ 1378
                N. COUNT VIII: FAILURE TO PAY WAGES ........................ 1382
                O. COUNT X: CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT ........................ 1382
                P. COUNT XI: DETRIMENTAL RELIANCE/PROMISSORY ESTOPPEL ...... 1383
                Q. COUNT XII: NEGLIGENT MISREPRESENTATION .................. 1385
                R. COUNT XIII: DEFAMATION .................................. 1386
                S. COUNT XIV: OUTRAGE ...................................... 1389
                T. COUNT XV: INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS .............. 1390
                U. COUNT XVI: VICARIOUS LIABILITY OF THE COUNTY ............ 1391
                V. COUNT XVII: NEGLIGENCE .................................. 1391
                W. COUNT XVIII: INVASION OF PRIVACY/FALSE LIGHT ............ 1392
                X. COUNT XIX: LOSS OF CONSORTIUM ........................... 1393
                Y. CONCLUSION .............................................. 1393
                
A. SUMMARY

A summary of the disposition of motions and claims is provided in the final pages of this Order. All claims are dismissed.

B. LITIGATION BACKGROUND

The Keenans filed suit on March 4, 1994. They state as causes of action:

· I: wrongful discharge/breach of contract;

· II: First and Fourteenth Amendment violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983;

· III: conspiracy to violate civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3);

· IV: whistleblower termination under RCW 42.41.010;

· V: wrongful discharge in violation of state public policy;

· VI: sexual harassment under RCW 49.60 and 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3;

· VII: age discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, 29 U.S.C. § 623, RCW 49.60 and RCW 49.44.090;

· VIII and IX: failure to pay wages under 29 U.S.C. § 201, RCW 49.52.050 and RCW 49.48.010;

· X: Consumer Protection Act violation under RCW 19.86;

· XI: detrimental reliance/promissory estoppel;

· XII: negligent misrepresentation;

· XIII: defamation;

· XIV: outrage;

· XV: infliction of emotional distress;

· XVI: vicarious liability of the County;

· XVII: negligence;

· XVIII: invasion of privacy/false light; and

· XIX: loss of consortium (for Daniel Keenan).

Keenan seeks compensatory damages (and/or reinstatement), punitive damages, injunctive relief and attorneys fees.

Trial is set for June 26, 1995.

C. STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

A party is entitled to summary judgment where the documentary evidence produced by the parties permits only one conclusion. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250-51, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The party seeking summary judgment must show that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law by "pointing out" to the Court that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325-26, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2554, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). "A material issue of fact is one that affects the outcome of the litigation and requires a trial to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth." SEC v. Seaboard Corp., 677 F.2d 1301, 1306 (9th Cir.1982). The Court must construe all facts in favor of the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, 106 S.Ct. at 2513-14.

The party opposing summary judgment must go beyond the pleadings to designate specific facts establishing a genuine issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24, 106 S.Ct. at 2553; Claar v. Burlington Northern R. Co., 29 F.3d 499, 502 (9th Cir. 1994) (experts cannot rely on unsupported conclusions); Marks v. United States, 578 F.2d 261, 263 (9th Cir.1978) (genuine issues are not raised by mere conclusory allegations). The nonmoving party may do this by use of affidavits (including his own), depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions. Celotex 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. at 2552-53. Summary judgment is required against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish an essential element of a claim, even if there are genuine factual disputes regarding other elements of the claim. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23, 106 S.Ct. at 2552. There is no issue for trial unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249, 106 S.Ct. at 2510-11.

D. AGREED FACTS

According to the parties' statements of material facts, the following facts are agreed under LR 56(c).1 The citation following the fact designates where the fact is found: in the Keenans' ("K"), Allan's ("A"), Whitener-Moberg's ("W"), the County Defendants' ("C"), or joint defendants' ("D") statements of material facts, and the paragraph number of the fact.

As an initial matter, it should be noted that most of the recited facts are not material. It may be that Hinojosa was not qualified for her position, or that the Judicial Commission breached its promise of confidentiality to Keenan.2 However, such immaterialities (even when disputed) are insufficient to get to a jury. Rather, Keenan must allege facts supporting her claims, against these defendants. To the extent the facts are undisputed and sufficient to determine the validity of a claim or defense, the Court will decide it on summary judgment. To the extent the facts are disputed or insufficient, the jury will decide them. For the benefit of the parties and a potential reviewing court in determining the extent to which Keenan supports her claims or merely raises immaterialities, this Court itemizes all agreed and disputed facts, whether or not material.

Background of plaintiff Shirley Keenan. Keenan was born on October 16, 1947. D1.

Keenan never had a position of major responsibility or authority before being hired as Court Administrator. D21.

On October 2, 1989, Keenan was hired as the Temporary Office Manager for Grant County District Court. K7; D2. At the time she was hired, Keenan's employer was Grant County, by and through the district court, Allan and Judge Carl N. Warring. K15.

In October, 1989, Keenan applied to become the Grant County District Court Administrator. K8. She was hired for that position in December, 1989, at the age of 42. K8. Her appointment was effective January 1, 1990. D3.

Keenan was neither the youngest nor the oldest person employed at Grant County District Court. D44.

Background of defendant Allan. Allan became a Grant County District Court Judge on April 1, 1982. K1. He was appointed by the Grant County Commissioners to fill the position and was re-elected twice. K1. He...

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