and Submitted November 13, 2019 Pasadena, California
from the United States District Court D.C. No.
5:16-cv-01756-JGB-SP for the Central District of California
Jesus G. Bernal, District Judge, Presiding
Valerie Ross (argued), Law Offices of Valerie Ross,
Victorville, California; A. Cabral Bonner (argued) and
Charles A. Bonner, Law Offices of Bonner & Bonner,
Sausalito, California; for Plaintiff-Appellant.
E. Coleman (argued) and Kristina Doan Strottman, Burke
Williams & Sorensen LLP, Los Angeles, California; for
Before: Susan P. Graber, Marsha S. Berzon, and Morgan
Christen, Circuit Judges.
panel affirmed in part and reversed in part the district
court's summary judgment in favor of San Bernardino
County Department of Children and Family Services defendants
in an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and
state law alleging that defendants fired plaintiff from his
post as a social services practitioner in retaliation for his
challenged his termination, unsuccessfully, through an appeal
to the County's Civil Service Commission and subsequently
filed the present action. The district court granted summary
judgment for defendants, holding in part, that
plaintiff's claims for retaliation under California Labor
Code section 1102.5 and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 were barred by
claim preclusion and issue preclusion.
panel first held that the Commission's order sustaining
plaintiff's dismissal did not preclude plaintiff's
section 1102.5 claim for retaliation. The panel noted that
although in California decisions by administrative agencies
typically have preclusive effect, the California Court of
Appeal recently applied a legislative-intent exception and
held that administrative findings by a state agency do not
preclude claims for retaliation brought under section 1102.5.
See Taswell v. Regents of Univ. of Cal., 232
Cal.Rptr.3d 628, 643 (Ct. App. 2018). The panel concluded
that defendants had failed to persuade it that the
Taswell court misapplied California law such that
the California Supreme Court would disagree with
Taswell's reasoning or conclusion.
panel's conclusion regarding legislative intent did not
extend to plaintiff's claim under § 1983. The panel
noted that plaintiff did not argue that giving an
administrative proceeding preclusive effect in a later §
1983 action was contrary to legislative intent, and the panel
declined to conduct that analysis sua sponte. The panel held
that plaintiff had a full opportunity to litigate the
propriety of his termination before the administrative
agency, as evidenced by the comprehensive evidentiary record
and the availability of judicial review. The panel concluded
that plaintiff's § 1983 claim was precluded by the
Commission's order and affirmed the district court's
ruling on this claim.
GRABER, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Eric Bahra was fired from his post as a social services
practitioner in Defendant San Bernardino County's
Department of Children and Family Services ("CFS").
Plaintiff challenged his termination, unsuccessfully, through
an appeal to the Civil Service Commission of the County of
San Bernadino ("Commission"). He then filed this
action, in which he alleges that CFS and two of its employees
fired him in retaliation for his whistleblowing activities,
in violation of California Labor Code section 1102.5 and 42
U.S.C. § 1983. The district court dismissed the action
on the ...