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Collins v. Nordstrom

submitted*fn*: July 8, 1992.

SQUAKEE-MARTHA COLLINS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
NORDSTROM, A WASHINGTON CORP.; SCOTT WETZEL SERVICES, A PRIVATE INSURANCE CORPORATION; DR. MICHAEL BIDGOOD, A MEDICAL PHYSICIAN; RALPH POND, AN ATTORNEY, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. D.C. No. CV-91-0332-CRD. Carolyn R. Dimmick, District Judge, Presiding.

Before: Poole, Beezer, and Kozinski, Circuit Judges.

MEMORANDUM

Squakee-Martha Collins appeals pro se the district court's summary judgment in her civil rights action in favor of defendants Nordstrom, Inc.; Ralph Pond, Nordstrom's attorney; Scott Wetzel Services, Inc. ("Wetzel"); and Dr. Michael Bidgood, a medical physician. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291.*fn1 We review de novo, Kruso v. International Tel. & Tel. Corp., 872 F.2d 1416, 1421 (9th Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 110 S. Ct. 3217 (1990), and affirm.

I

Background

In October 1982, Collins, then an employee of Nordstrom, allegedly injured her back while working. As a result of the injury, Collins instituted a worker's compensation claim against Nordstrom. Defendant Wetzel, Nordstrom's worker's compensation administrator, processed the claim. In that same month, Nordstrom discharged Collins from her employment for allegedly screaming obscenities, in the presence of customers, at a store manager and a store personnel manager who were giving her an annual review.

Collins received worker's compensation for her back injury through 1987, at which time defendant Bidgood diagnosed her condition as having stabilized. Collins worker's compensation case was then closed and her payments were terminated.

In September 1987, Collins filed a civil action in Washington State Court against Nordstrom alleging racial discrimination and discrimination based on handicap, i.e., the back injury that she suffered while working. Defendant Ralph Pond represented Nordstrom in the state court discrimination action. A jury found in favor of Nordstrom in March 1985 and Collins did not appeal the judgment.

Collins now brings this action asserting that (1) Nordstrom discriminated against her on the basis of race and physical handicap and discharged her in retaliation for filing a claim with the Washington Human Rights Commission; (2) attorney Pond engaged in unlawful and unethical conduct and slandered Collins during Collins's 1987 Superior Court trial against Nordstrom; (3) Wetzel offered false testimony against her in her workers' compensation proceeding; and (4) Dr. Bidgood conspired to defraud her, breached the physician-patient privilege, and committed medical malpractice when he reported his medical findings to the Department of Labor.

II

Civil Rights Action

Collins contends that the district court erred when it found that her civil rights claim against Nordstrom was barred by res judicata. This contention lacks merit.

Federal court are required to give "full faith and credit" to state judicial proceedings. 28 U.S.C. § 1738; Gilbert v. Ben-Asher, 900 F.2d 1407, 1410 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 111 S. Ct. 177 (1990). Thus, we look to Washington state law of res judicata and give the state court judgment the same preclusive effect as would state courts. Gilbert, 900 F.2d at 1410; Matter of Lockard, 884 F.2d 1171, 1174 (9th Cir. 1989).

In Washington, res judicata bars parties or their privies from relitigating issues that were or could have been raised in the previous action. Mellor v. Chamberlin, 673 P.2d 610, 611 (Wash. 1983). Res judicata is appropriate when the current action and the prior judgment involve the same subject matter, cause of action, ...


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