United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Yim You United States Magistrate Judge
Christina Grant (“Grant”), an Oregon City School
District No. 62 employee, has filed a complaint alleging a
single-count violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. She contends
that defendants Oregon City School District No. 62, Cheryl
Howell, John Ogden, and Laura Poore (collectively
“defendants”), while acting under color of state
law, violated her procedural due process rights by
terminating her employment without providing (a) prior notice
of the charges, (b) prior notice of the sanctions being
considered, (c) an opportunity to refute the charges, and (d)
a pre-termination hearing. Compl. ¶ 42, ECF #1.
Defendants move pursuant to FRCP 12(b)(6) to dismiss the
complaint on the basis that it is duplicative of a previously
#15), and seek the imposition of sanctions (ECF #19). For the
reasons discussed below, the instant action is not
duplicative and defendants' motions to dismiss and for
imposition of sanctions should be DENIED.
AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
October 14, 2015, Grant was injured by a student while
employed as a classroom assistant in a pre-kindergarten class
in Oregon City School District No. 62 (the
“District”). Compl. ¶¶ 11-13, ECF #1.
Her workers' compensation claim was granted and she
returned to work on modified duty until she was terminated
for cause on February 5, 2016. Id. at ¶¶
21, 24, 34. On November 21, 2016, Grant filed suit against
the District challenging the stated reasons for termination
and alleging (1) discrimination and retaliation in violation
of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”);
(2) discrimination and retaliation in violation of state
whistleblower protection provisions, ORS 659A.199 and ORS
659A.230; (3) injured worker discrimination and retaliation
in violation of ORS 659A.040; (4) violation of the Oregon
Rehabilitation Act, ORS 659A.103 et seq.; and (5) wrongful
termination. Grant v. Oregon City School District No.
62, No. 3:16-cv-02202-YY (“Grant I”), ECF
January 26, 2018, Grant filed the instant action against the
District and several of its employees: Cheryl Howell, the
District's Early Childhood After School Age Programs
Coordinator; John Ogden, the District's Director of Human
Resources; and Laura Poore, the District's Community
Education Supervisor. Compl. ¶¶ 6-8, ECF #1. In
this second action, Grant alleges that the defendants acted
under color of law in depriving her of her federally
protected rights. Id. Grant alleges that although
she was at all relevant times an employee of the District,
not a probationary employee, she was not given a due process
hearing or fair opportunity to be heard prior to termination,
in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Id. at ¶
37. Defendants move to dismiss this second action as
duplicative (ECF #15) and seek the imposition of sanctions
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under FRCP
12(b)(6) may be granted only when there is no cognizable
legal theory to support the claim or when the complaint lacks
sufficient factual allegations to state a facially plausible
claim for relief. Mollett v. Netflix, Inc., 795 F.3d
1062, 1065 (9th Cir. 2015); Shroyer v. New Cingular
Wireless Servs., Inc., 622 F.3d 1035, 1041 (9th Cir.
2010). When evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint's
factual allegations, the court must accept as true all
well-pleaded material facts alleged in the complaint and
construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Davidson v. Kimberly-Clark Corp., 873 F.3d 1103,
1107 n.1 (9th Cir. 2017) (citing Daniels-Hall v.
Nat'l Educ. Ass'n, 629 F.3d 992, 998 (9th Cir.
2010)); see also Dowers v. Nationstar Mortg., LLC,
852 F.3d 964, 969 (9th Cir. 2017) (citing Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). And while this Court
need not credit a plaintiff's “legal conclusions,
” the presumption of truth indisputably extends to all
“factual allegations” in a complaint, however
“conclusory.” Iqbal, 566 U.S. at 678
(citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
Relevant Law Regarding Claim Preclusion
determining whether a second suit is duplicative, the court
looks to the doctrine of claim preclusion or res judicata.
Res judicata bars all grounds for recovery that could have
been asserted, whether they were or not, in a prior suit
between the same parties on the same cause of action.
McClain v. Apodaca, 793 F.2d 1031, 1033 (9th
Cir.1986). To determine “whether successive suits
involve the same cause of action, ” and thus claim
preclusion applies, the Ninth Circuit looks to four factors:
(1) whether rights or interests established in the prior
judgment would be destroyed or impaired by prosecution of the
second action; (2) whether substantially the same evidence is
presented in the two actions; (3) whether the two suits
involve infringement of the same right; and (4) whether the
two suits arise out of the same transactional nucleus of
facts. Clark v. Bear Stearns & Co., 966 F.2d
1318, 1320 (9th Cir. 1992) (citing Costantini v. Trans
World Airlines, 681 F.2d 1199, 1201-02 (9th Cir.),
cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1087 (1982)).
burden of establishing improper claim splitting is on the
moving party.” Unicolors, Inc. v.
Macy's, Inc., No. CV 14-08611-RGK SSX, 2015 WL
1020101, at *2 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 6, 2015) (citing Taylor, 553
U.S. at 907 (discussing the burden for claim preclusion)).
“After weighing the equities of the case, the district
court may exercise its discretion to dismiss a duplicative
later-filed action, to stay that action pending resolution of
the previously filed action, to enjoin the parties from
proceeding with it, or to consolidate both actions.”
Adams v. California Dep't of Health Servs., 487
F.3d 684, 692-93 (9th Cir.2007), overruled on other
grounds by Taylor v. Sturgell, 553 U.S. 880 (2008).
Judgment in the first action would not be destroyed or