Shoemaker v. County of Glenn et al, No. 2:2010cv01625 - Document 18 (E.D. Cal. 2010)

Court Description: ORDER GRANTING WITH PREJUDICE 7 Motion to Dismiss signed by Judge John A. Mendez on 11/22/10. (Kaminski, H)
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Shoemaker v. County of Glenn et al Doc. 18 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 DAVID J. SHOEMAKER, 12 Plaintiff, 13 14 15 v. THE COUNTY OF GLENN; THE GLENN COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS; DOES 1 through 100, inclusive, 16 Defendants. 17 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Case No. 2:10-CV-01625 JAM-KJN ORDER GRANTING COUNTY OF GLENN’S MOTION TO DISMISS This matter comes before the Court on Defendant County of 18 19 Glenn’s (“County”) Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 8). County asks the 20 Court to dismiss the Complaint (Doc. 1) filed by Plaintiff David J. 21 Shoemaker (“Plaintiff”). Plaintiff opposes the motion. 1 22 I. 23 FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND On May 3, 2005, Plaintiff signed the Employment Agreement For 24 25 the Position of Glenn County Administrative Officer (Plaintiff 26 Exhibit A). 27 28 Plaintiff alleges that he was to remain in the 1 This motion was determined to be suitable for decision without oral argument. E.D. Cal. L.R. 230(g). The hearing was scheduled for November 3, 2010. 1 Dockets.Justia.com 1 “exclusive employ” of the Glenn County Board of Supervisors 2 (“Board”), until January 1, 2007. 3 amendment to the Employment Agreement extended Plaintiff’s 4 employment to January 1, 2011 (Plaintiff Exhibit B). 5 Plaintiff alleges that an The Complaint alleges that on August 18, 2009, County notified 6 Plaintiff that the employment extension was “invalid” and that 7 Plaintiff’s employment would end on January 1, 2010, one year prior 8 to the contractual expiration date. 9 10 11 Plaintiff alleges that he was deprived of one year’s salary of $115,424.40 plus other expenses, costs, and fees. Plaintiff alleges that he was given no notice of any charges 12 against him, nor given the opportunity to present any evidence 13 regarding his competency to perform the duties required by his 14 employment contract. 15 Plaintiff brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging 16 that because the County and the Board breached the Employment 17 Agreement, they deprived him of his property without due process in 18 violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. 19 20 21 22 23 II. A. OPINION Legal Standard 1. Motion to Dismiss A party may move to dismiss an action for failure to state a 24 claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of 25 Civil Procedure section 12(b)(6). 26 dismiss, the court must accept the allegations in the complaint as 27 true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. 28 Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1975), overruled on other 2 In considering a motion to 1 grounds by Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183 (1984); Cruz v. Beto, 405 2 U.S. 319, 322 (1972). 3 conclusions,” however, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. 4 Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009), citing Bell 5 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). 6 motion to dismiss, a plaintiff needs to plead “enough facts to 7 state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” 8 550 U.S. at 570. 9 fails to state a claim supportable by a cognizable legal theory. 10 Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Department, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th 11 Cir. 1990). 12 Assertions that are mere “legal To survive a Twombly, Dismissal is appropriate where the plaintiff Upon granting a motion to dismiss for failure to state a 13 claim, the court has discretion to allow leave to amend the 14 complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure section 15 15(a). 16 appropriate unless it is clear . . . that the complaint could not 17 be saved by amendment.” 18 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003). 19 20 “Dismissal with prejudice and without leave to amend is not 2. Eminence Capital, L.L.C. v. Aspeon, Inc., Section 1983 Plaintiff’s claims against Defendant are brought under 42 21 U.S.C. § 1983. 22 actors for the deprivation of rights, privileges, or immunities 23 secured by the Constitution and laws, a plaintiff must show that 24 (1) acts by the defendants (2) under color of state law (3) deprived him of federal rights, privileges or immunities and (4) caused him damage. Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred. Accordingly, the conduct complained of must have deprived the plaintiff of some right, privilege or immunity protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.” 25 26 27 28 To prevail in a § 1983 civil action against state 3 1 Thornton v. City of St. Helens, 425 F.3d 1158, 1163-64 (9th Cir. 2 2005) (internal citations omitted). 3 B. Claims for Relief 4 County asks the Court to review Plaintiff’s employment 5 contract, which was attached to the Complaint, to find that 6 Plaintiff was an “at will” employee whose termination was proper 7 and who therefore was not unconstitutionally deprived of a property 8 interest. 9 ambiguous and should be interpreted against the party who caused Plaintiff argues that the contract is unclear and 10 the uncertainty to exist. 11 applies to contracts and that he is entitled to due process when 12 being deprived of his property interest. 13 1. 14 He further argues that 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Review of the Employment Agreement Generally, a district court may not consider any material 15 beyond the pleadings when ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. 16 Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Finer & Co., Inc., 896 F.2d 1542, 17 1555 n. 19 (9th Cir. 1990). 18 submitted as part of the complaint may be considered.” 19 Accordingly, the Court has reviewed Plaintiff’s Exhibit A and 20 Plaintiff’s Exhibit B. 21 Hal However, “material which is properly Id. “Resolution of contractual claims on a motion to dismiss is 22 proper if the terms of the contract are unambiguous.” 23 Tenet Healthcare Corp., 2000 WL 206633, at *1 (9th Cir. 2000); 24 citing Rennie & Laughlin, Inc. v. Chrysler Corp., 242 F.2d 208, 25 209-12 (9th Cir. 1957). 26 /// 27 /// 28 4 Bedrosian v. 1 The Court has carefully considered both exhibits and found 2 that Plaintiff is clearly an at will employee who can be terminated 3 without cause as long as he is given 120 days notice as evidenced 4 by the following contract provisions: 5 Section 2B: “Nothing in this Agreement shall 6 prevent, limit, or otherwise interfere with the 7 right of the Board of Supervisors to terminate the 8 services of David J. Shoemaker at any time, subject 9 only to the provision set forth in Section 3 of this 10 Agreement.” 11 Section 3A: “The County Administrative Officer 12 serves at the will of the Board of Supervisors.” 13 (Emphasis added). 14 Section 3A.2, under the heading “Non-Renewal of 15 Contract or Termination Without Cause”: “If the 16 Board of Supervisors determines at any time not to 17 renew or continue David J. Shoemaker’s contract, the 18 Board of Supervisors will give David J. Shoemaker 19 120 days notice.” 20 (Emphasis added). (Emphasis added). The Court finds that the contract is unambiguous that 21 Plaintiff is an at will employee. 22 Plaintiff’s contract to January 2011, that extension does not alter 23 Plaintiff’s at will status. 24 Though the Board extended Aside from the broad claim that the Agreement is unclear, 25 Plaintiff does not point to any inconsistencies or ambiguities in 26 the Employment Agreement.2 27 2 28 Plaintiff also argues because the County entered into his employment contract after passing Ordinance 1172, which limits the term of the County Administrative Officer to three years, the 5 1 2. 2 Constitutionally Protected Property Interest Plaintiff, as an at will employee, has no constitutionally 3 protected property interest in continued employment. “A public 4 employee serving at the pleasure of the appointing authority . . . 5 [can be] subject to removal without judicially cognizable good 6 cause.” 7 1971); see also Board of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564 (1972) 8 (holding that an assistant professor at a state university had no 9 property interest protected by the Fourteenth Amendment that was Bogacki v. Board of Supervisors, 5 Cal.3d 771, 783 (Cal. 10 sufficient to require university authorities to give him a hearing 11 when they declined to renew his contract of employment). 12 Accordingly, Plaintiff fails to state a claim based on 42 U.S.C. 13 § 1983 because he has not been deprived of a constitutional right. 14 3. 15 Termination Procedure County did not breach the Employment Agreement because it 16 followed proper termination procedures. The Complaint avers that 17 County gave Plaintiff notice on August 18, 2009 that he would be 18 terminated on January 1, 2010. 19 120 days notice of his impending termination and the County 20 properly ended his employment. 21 /// 22 /// 23 /// Thus, Plaintiff received more than 24 25 26 27 28 ordinance’s time limit is waived because the County approved an extension to Plaintiff’s contract, which Plaintiff himself introduced. This argument is without merit. The ordinance does not change Plaintiff’s status as an at will employee and based on the facts in this case, Plaintiff is now trying to take advantage of his own error in proposing an extension to his term of office that was not authorized by the County Code that created his own office. 6 1 /// 2 III. ORDER 3 For the reasons set forth above, 4 County’s Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED WITH PREJUDICE. 5 IT IS SO ORDERED. 6 Dated: November 22, 2010 ____________________________ JOHN A. MENDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 7