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Peoples v. Puget Sound's Best Chicken!, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 2

February 3, 2015

Leon Peoples , Appellant ,
v.
Puget Sound's Best Chicken!, Inc., et al. , Respondents

Appeal from Pierce County Superior Court. Docket No: 12-2-16052-5. Judge signing: Honorable Garold E Johnson. Judgment or order under review. Date filed: 06/14/2013.

Thaddeus P. Martin IV, for appellant.

Joshua C. Allen Brower, Benjamin J. Stone, and Danielle N. Granatt (of Veris Law Group PLLC ), for respondents.

Authored by Thomas R Bjorgen. Concurring: Bradley A. Maxa, Rich Melnick.

OPINION

Page 812

[185 Wn.App. 693] Bjorgen, A.C.J.

¶ 1 Leon Peoples sued Puget Sound's Best Chicken! Inc., doing business as Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits, along with Bennie Martin and Martin's marital community (collectively Popeye's),[1] for events that occurred during his employment at a Popeye's restaurant on Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM). The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Popeye's based on the federal enclave doctrine and dismissed Peoples's lawsuit without prejudice after determining that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction.

[185 Wn.App. 694] ¶ 2 On appeal, Peoples argues that the trial court erred by dismissing his lawsuit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and by granting summary judgment based on the federal enclave doctrine, because his causes of action predated Washington's cession of the land comprising JBLM to the federal government.

¶ 3 We partially reverse the order of summary judgment. The federal enclave doctrine bars state law causes of action arising from events occurring on a federal enclave if the cause of action did not exist in state law at the creation of the enclave. The trial court correctly determined that Peoples's statutory discrimination and intentional infliction of emotional distress (outrage) causes of action did not exist when Washington ceded the land encompassing JBLM to the federal government. Summary judgment on these claims was appropriate. However,

Page 813

Peoples's negligent hiring or retention cause of action existed in Washington's common law before cession of the JBLM land, making summary judgment in favor of Puget Sound's Best Chicken! inappropriate on this claim.

¶ 4 We also reverse the order of dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The trial court's decision to dismiss Peoples's lawsuit assumed that he had no valid state law claims, an assumption that our partial reversal of the order of summary judgment renders erroneous. Consequently, we reverse in part and remand the matter for further proceedings.

FACTS

¶ 5 Peoples alleges that during his employment Martin, his manager, subjected him to degrading taunts based on his sexual orientation and that his employer took no action to stop the harassment despite notice of its occurrence.

¶ 6 Peoples filed suit against Popeye's in Pierce County Superior Court, claiming (1) violations of the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD), chapter 49.60 RCW, (2) outrage, and (3) negligent hiring or retention.

[185 Wn.App. 695] ¶ 7 Popeye's moved for summary judgment on its claims under CR 56(c) and dismissal of Peoples's complaint based on CR 12(b)(1). Popeye's argued that the trial court should grant summary judgment in its favor because the events at issue occurred on a federal enclave and the federal enclave doctrine barred Peoples's state law causes of action. Popeye's conceded that Peoples might have valid federal claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,[2] but contended that until Peoples exhausted his administrative remedies, the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over these claims. Because no evidence suggested that he had done so, Popeye's moved the trial court to dismiss Peoples's lawsuit without prejudice.

¶ 8 The trial court granted Popeye's CR 56(c) and CR 12(b)(1) motions, dismissing Peoples's complaint without prejudice. Peoples now appeals.

ANALYSIS

I. Standard of Review

¶ 9 We review de novo an order granting summary judgment, performing the same inquiry as the trial court. Lakey v. Puget Sound Energy, Inc., 176 Wn.2d 909, 922, 296 P.3d 860 (2013). We view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences from the evidence in that party's favor. Lakey, 176 Wn.2d at 922. Summary judgment is appropriate where the " pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file," along with any affidavits, show that ...


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