Taylor v. Lockheed Martin Corp., No. B122436.

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtCoffee
Citation92 Cal.Rptr.2d 873,78 Cal.App.4th 472
PartiesWalter TAYLOR, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. LOCKHEED MARTIN CORPORATION et al., Defendants and Respondents.
Docket NumberNo. B122436.
Decision Date23 February 2000
92 Cal.Rptr.2d 873
78 Cal.App.4th 472
Walter TAYLOR, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
LOCKHEED MARTIN CORPORATION et al., Defendants and Respondents.
No. B122436.
Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 6.
February 23, 2000.
Rehearing Denied March 22, 2000.

[92 Cal.Rptr.2d 875]

[78 Cal.App.4th 476]

Lascher & Lascher, Wendy C. Lascher and Gabriele Mezger-Lashly, Ventura, for Plaintiff and Appellant.

Curiale Dellaverson Hirschfeld Kelly & Kraemer, Joel P. Kelly and Leonora M. Schloss, Los Angeles, for Defendants and Respondents.

COFFEE, J.


An employee of a civilian contractor operating on a federal military enclave brought a lawsuit for wrongful termination. We conclude

78 Cal.App.4th 477

that all but one of his state law claims are barred by article I, section 8, clause 17 of the United States Constitution.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Respondent Lockheed Martin Corporation (Lockheed) is a civilian contractor that

92 Cal.Rptr.2d 876

provides launch operations services at Vandenberg Air Force Base (Vandenberg). Appellant Walter Taylor (Taylor), who is an African American, was employed by Lockheed as a rocket engine mechanic for almost 15 years. In 1996, he filed a complaint with the Division of Occupational Safety and Health of the State Department of Industrial Relations (Cal/OSHA). Taylor became ill after using the chemical trichloroethane and alleged that rubber gloves provided to him by Lockheed were inadequate to prevent that chemical from penetrating the skin. Cal/OSHA issued two citations against Lockheed after an investigation.

Taylor was placed on an unpaid leave of absence in September of 1996. He was then constructively terminated when Lockheed placed him on an unpaid suspension without a definite return date. He claims this action was racially motivated and was in retaliation for his complaint to Cal/ OSHA. Lockheed has maintained that Taylor was suspended due to unresolved issues relating to his work performance.

Taylor filed a complaint alleging four causes of action against Lockheed and his supervisors there, Cal Moser and Raymond Harris (collectively, "defendants"): (1) wrongful termination in violation of the public policy found in Labor Code sections 1102.5 and 6310; (2) violation of Labor Code sections 1102.5 and 6310; (3) race discrimination in employment in violation of Government Code section 12940; and (4) wrongful termination in violation of public policy under the California Constitution, article I, section 8 (prohibiting race discrimination).

Defendants moved for summary judgment on the ground that Vandenberg has been a federal enclave since 1943 and is under the legislative jurisdiction of the federal government, subject to limitations not here relevant. They argued that a wrongful termination claim that arises within a federal enclave is governed by federal law and by any state law that was in effect when the federal government assumed legislative jurisdiction. Defendants argued that Taylor's claims arose solely under state law enacted after 1943 and were not cognizable.

The trial court agreed that Vandenberg was a federal enclave, found that Taylor's "predominant job situs" was on that enclave, and concluded that the

78 Cal.App.4th 478

state law claims in Taylor's complaint were barred. It treated the motion as one for judgment on the pleadings, granting it with leave to amend so that Taylor could plead federal causes of action, state causes of action based on California law in effect at the time Vandenberg became an enclave, or state causes of action based on conduct arising outside the federal enclave. Taylor did not file an amended complaint and judgment was entered in favor of defendants.

DISCUSSION
I.
Federal Enclaves

A federal enclave is land over which the federal government exercises legislative jurisdiction. (Kelly v. Lockheed Martin Services Group (D.Puerto Rico 1998) 25 F.Supp.2d 1, 3.) The federal power over such enclaves emanates from article I, section 8, clause 17 of the United States Constitution, which gives Congress the power "[t]o exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever" over the District of Columbia and "to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings."

An enclave is created when the federal government purchases land within

92 Cal.Rptr.2d 877

a state with the state's consent, which may be conditioned on the retention of state jurisdiction consistent with the federal use. (Paul v. United States (1963) 371 U.S. 245, 264-265, 83 S.Ct. 426, 437-38, 9 L.Ed.2d 292, 304-305.) Unlike those situations where the United States has a mere proprietary interest in a piece of land, the voluntary cession of land by a state to the federal government is an actual transfer of sovereignty. (Vincent v. General Dynamics Corp. (N.D.Tex. 1977) 427 F.Supp. 786, 795; see also People v. Crusilla (1999) 77 Cal.App.4th 141, 148-150, 91 Cal.Rptr.2d 415.)

II.
Standard of Review

Before addressing whether Taylor's claims are barred because they arose on a federal enclave, we consider a procedural issue presented by the trial court's decision to treat Lockheed's summary judgment motion as a motion for judgment on the pleadings. (See Yancey v. Superior Court (1994)

78 Cal.App.4th 479

28 Cal.App.4th 558, 561-562, 33 Cal.Rptr.2d 777.) We must initially determine the propriety of this action, because it affects the scope of our review.

When ruling upon a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the court may consider only the face of the pleadings and matters that are a proper subject of judicial notice. (Smiley v. Citibank (1995) 11 Cal.4th 138, 146, 44 Cal.Rptr.2d 441, 900 P.2d 690.) When a motion for summary judgment challenges the sufficiency of the pleadings rather than the evidence supporting the allegations contained therein, it is tantamount to a motion for judgment on the pleadings and may be treated as such by the trial court. (Hand v. Farmers Ins. Exchange (1994) 23 Cal.App.4th 1847, 1853, 29 Cal.Rptr.2d 258.) The practical effect of this procedure is that in granting judgment on the pleadings, the trial court may give the plaintiff the opportunity to amend the complaint even when no motion to amend has been filed. (See Lee v. Bank of America (1994) 27 Cal.App.4th 197, 216, 32 Cal.Rptr.2d 388; Hansra v. Superior Court (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 630, 647, 9 Cal.Rptr.2d 216.)

In this case, the trial court's written ruling states that it was electing to treat the summary judgment motion as one for judgment on the pleadings because "[Taylor's complaint] coupled with facts of which the court may take judicial notice discloses the problem of applying state law within a federal enclave." This is incorrect because extrinsic evidence was needed to establish two essential facts supporting the ruling— that Taylor actually worked at Vandenberg and that his claims arose on the base. (Compare Saltarelli & Steponovich v. Douglas (1995) 40 Cal.App.4th 1, 5, 46 Cal.Rptr.2d 683 [declaration not proper subject of judicial notice].)

We therefore treat the court's order as one granting summary judgment and review it de novo. (Isaac v. City of Los Angeles (1998) 66 Cal.App.4th 586, 594, 77 Cal.Rptr.2d 752.) This approach is appropriate because other language in the written ruling makes it clear the trial court found no triable issue of fact as to whether the claims arose on a federal enclave. It simply erred in concluding that the evidence offered in support of summary judgment was also subject to judicial notice, and thus could be considered as part of a motion for judgment on the pleadings so that Taylor could be given the opportunity to amend.

III.
There is No Triable Issue of Fact that Taylor's Claims Arose on a Federal Enclave

The land on which Vandenberg is located was purchased by the United States

92 Cal.Rptr.2d 878

Department of the Army in 1941 and became the Camp Cooke

78 Cal.App.4th 480

Military Reservation. The United States Government accepted jurisdiction over the property in January of 1943, and the base was transferred to the Air Force in 1957. (Curnutt v. Holk (1964) 230 Cal.App.2d 580, 582, fn. 2, 41 Cal.Rptr. 174; see also United States v. Barnes (S.D.Ca.1959) 175 F.Supp. 60, 61 [noting exclusive jurisdiction of federal government over Camp Cooke]; former 50 U.S.C. § 175, now 40 U.S.C. § 255.)

Former Political Code section 34, which was in effect when the United States Government accepted jurisdiction over the base, provided, "The Legislature consents to the purchase or condemnation by the United States of any tract of land within this State for the purpose of erecting forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings," with certain reservations of authority to the state for the service of process and taxation, not here material. (Stats.1939, ch. 710, § 1, p. 2231.) This blanket consent to federal jurisdiction rendered Vandenberg a federal enclave.1

The evidence supporting defendants' summary judgment motion included the declaration of defendant Harris, who had been Taylor's supervisor. This declaration established that Taylor had been assigned to work in Building 8401A, which was located in an area within the Vandenberg enclave.2 A declaration by Nieves Dominguez, a human resources manager at Lockheed's Vandenberg operations, established that the decision to discipline Taylor and the implementation of that discipline occurred on the enclave, in the human resources department located in the same building. This evidentiary showing shifted the burden to Taylor to present evidence that his causes of action arose outside the enclave. (Code Civ. Proc, § 437c, subds. (n)(1) & (o)(2); Deschene v. Pinole Point Steel Co. (1999) 76 Cal. App.4th 33, 38, 90 Cal.Rptr.2d 15.)

78 Cal.App.4th 481

Taylor's opposition papers did not present any evidence sufficient to raise a triable...

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