This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/15/2022 at 20:28:50 (UTC).

ALFREDO MARTINEZ ET AL VS SOUTHERN CA EDISON COMPANY ET AL

Case Summary

On 08/01/2017 ALFREDO MARTINEZ filed a Labor - Wrongful Termination lawsuit against SOUTHERN CA EDISON COMPANY. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are DALILA CORRAL LYONS, BARBARA A. MEIERS, DEBRE K. WEINTRAUB, YVETTE M. PALAZUELOS, TERESA A. BEAUDET, THERESA M. TRABER and RANDOLPH M. HAMMOCK. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****0461

  • Filing Date:

    08/01/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Labor - Wrongful Termination

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

DALILA CORRAL LYONS

BARBARA A. MEIERS

DEBRE K. WEINTRAUB

YVETTE M. PALAZUELOS

TERESA A. BEAUDET

THERESA M. TRABER

RANDOLPH M. HAMMOCK

 

Party Details

Petitioners and Plaintiffs

PAGE JUSTIN

MARTINEZ ALFREDO

Respondents and Defendants

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON COMPANY

DOES 1 TO 10

EDISON INTERNATIONAL

Not Classified By Court

ALDERLAW PC

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Petitioner and Plaintiff Attorneys

HARRISON TODD H. ESQ.

ALDER LAW

PERONA LANGER BECK SERBIN ET AL. APC

PERONA LANGER BECK SERBIN & HARRISON APC

LAW ALDER

ALDER C MICHAEL

HARRISON TODD HAMILTON

DERUBERTIS DAVID

KAHN BRENNAN S

Respondent and Defendant Attorneys

WASSERMAN HELENE J. ESQ.

LITTLER MENDELSON PC

PC LITTLER MENDELSON

HUEY BRIAN GABRIEL MENDOZA

WASSERMAN HELENE J.

 

Court Documents

Minute Order -

4/9/2018: Minute Order -

CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT -

12/27/2017: CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT -

CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT -

3/23/2018: CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT -

Minute Order -

10/26/2017: Minute Order -

DEFENDANT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON COMPANY'S MOTION FOR PEREMPTORY DISQUALIFICATION OF THE HONORABLE YVETTE M. PALAZUELOS PURSUANT TO CALIFORNIA CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE SECTION 170.6

10/24/2017: DEFENDANT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON COMPANY'S MOTION FOR PEREMPTORY DISQUALIFICATION OF THE HONORABLE YVETTE M. PALAZUELOS PURSUANT TO CALIFORNIA CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE SECTION 170.6

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (JURY TRIAL:)

6/1/2022: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (JURY TRIAL:)

Jury Question - JURY REQUEST OR QUESTION - RECEIVED AT 11:30 A.M.

6/1/2022: Jury Question - JURY REQUEST OR QUESTION - RECEIVED AT 11:30 A.M.

Jury Question - JURY REQUEST OR QUESTION - RECEIVED AT 2:31 P.M.

6/1/2022: Jury Question - JURY REQUEST OR QUESTION - RECEIVED AT 2:31 P.M.

Jury Question - JURY REQUEST OR QUESTION - RECEIVED AT 9:53 A.M.

6/1/2022: Jury Question - JURY REQUEST OR QUESTION - RECEIVED AT 9:53 A.M.

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (JURY TRIAL [PHASE 2 - PUNITIVE DAMAGES]:)

6/2/2022: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (JURY TRIAL [PHASE 2 - PUNITIVE DAMAGES]:)

Stipulation - No Order - STIPULATION - NO ORDER RE: FINANCIAL CONDITION AND ABILITY TO PAY

6/2/2022: Stipulation - No Order - STIPULATION - NO ORDER RE: FINANCIAL CONDITION AND ABILITY TO PAY

Jury Instructions - JURY INSTRUCTIONS - GIVEN [COURT'S COPY]

6/2/2022: Jury Instructions - JURY INSTRUCTIONS - GIVEN [COURT'S COPY]

Jury Instructions - JURY INSTRUCTIONS - WITHDRAWN/REFUSED [PLAINTIFFS']

6/2/2022: Jury Instructions - JURY INSTRUCTIONS - WITHDRAWN/REFUSED [PLAINTIFFS']

Special Verdict - SPECIAL VERDICT FORM FOR CLAIMS OF ALFREDO MARTINEZ

6/2/2022: Special Verdict - SPECIAL VERDICT FORM FOR CLAIMS OF ALFREDO MARTINEZ

Jury Instructions - JURY INSTRUCTIONS - GIVEN - (JURY'S COPY)

6/2/2022: Jury Instructions - JURY INSTRUCTIONS - GIVEN - (JURY'S COPY)

Jury Instructions - JURY INSTRUCTIONS - GIVEN - (JURY'S COPY)

6/2/2022: Jury Instructions - JURY INSTRUCTIONS - GIVEN - (JURY'S COPY)

Jury Instructions - JURY INSTRUCTIONS - WITHDRAWN/REFUSED [DEFENDANTS']

6/2/2022: Jury Instructions - JURY INSTRUCTIONS - WITHDRAWN/REFUSED [DEFENDANTS']

Special Verdict - PHASE TWO VERDICT FROM AS TO ALFREDO MARTINEZ

6/2/2022: Special Verdict - PHASE TWO VERDICT FROM AS TO ALFREDO MARTINEZ

369 More Documents Available
View All Documents

 

Docket Entries

  • 07/15/2022
  • Hearing07/15/2022 at 09:15 AM in Department 47 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Non-Appearance Case Review

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/14/2022
  • DocketProof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Southern California Edison Company (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/13/2022
  • Docketat 08:59 AM in Department 47, Theresa M. Traber, Presiding; Court Order

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/13/2022
  • DocketMinute Order ( (COURT ORDER:)); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/13/2022
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for ((COURT ORDER:) of 06/13/2022); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/13/2022
  • DocketStipulation and Order (to Extend Time to Submit Proposed Judgment); Filed by Southern California Edison Company (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/10/2022
  • DocketProof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Southern California Edison Company (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/09/2022
  • DocketJoint Submission of CACI and Special Jury Instructions; Filed by Alfredo Martinez (Plaintiff); Justin Page (Plaintiff); Edison International (Defendant) et al.

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/02/2022
  • Docketat 09:30 AM in Department 47, Theresa M. Traber, Presiding; Jury Trial ([Phase 2]) - Held

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/02/2022
  • DocketJury Instructions (- Given - (Jury's copy)); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
496 More Docket Entries
  • 08/16/2017
  • DocketNOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/16/2017
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/09/2017
  • Docketat 3:30 PM in Department 20; (Affidavit of Prejudice; Case is reassigned) -

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/09/2017
  • DocketMinute order entered: 2017-08-09 00:00:00; Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/09/2017
  • DocketMinute Order

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/07/2017
  • DocketPEREMPTORY CHALLENGE TO JUDICIAL OFFICER

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/07/2017
  • DocketChallenge To Judicial Officer - Peremptory (170.6); Filed by Alfredo Martinez (Plaintiff); Justin Page (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/01/2017
  • DocketSUMMONS

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/01/2017
  • DocketCOMPLAINT FOR: (1) HARASSMENT BASED ON SEX AND/OR GENDER IN VIOLATION OF THE FE HA; ETC

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/01/2017
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Alfredo Martinez (Plaintiff); Justin Page (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less

Tentative Rulings

Case Number: ****0461    Hearing Date: February 04, 2020    Dept: 47

Alfredo Martinez, et al. v. Southern California Edison Company, et al.

 

MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER RE: PLAINTIFFS’ REQUEST TO TAKE 47 ADDITIONAL DEPOSITIONS

MOVING PARTY: Defendants Southern California Edison Company and Edison International

RESPONDING PARTY(S): Plaintiffs Alfredo Martinez and Justin Page

STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS AND/OR PROCEEDINGS:

This is a wrongful termination case. Plaintiffs allege harassment based on sex and/or gender, retaliation, and related claims.

Defendants move for a protective order re: Plaintiffs’ request to take 47 additional depositions. Plaintiffs move to seal exhibits lodged conditionally under seal in support of their opposition.

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendants Southern California Edison Company and Edison International’s motion for protective order re: Plaintiffs’ request to take 47 additional depositions is CONTINUED to February 25, 2020, at 8:30 a.m. to give Plaintiffs the opportunity to decide whether to withdraw the documents they lodged conditionally under seal.

THE COURT WILL CONDUCT A MANDATORY INFORMAL DISCOVERY CONFERENCE AT TOMMORROW’S HEARING REGARDING THE MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER. THIS IDC WILL BE HELD IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE HEARING ON THE MOTION TO SEAL. COUNSEL WITH PERSONAL KNOWEGDE OF THE ISSUES CONCERING THE PROTECTIVE ORDER ARE TO BE PERSONALLY PRESENT AT TOMORROW’S IDC

Plaintiffs’ motion to seal exhibits filed in support of their opposition per the parties’ stipulated protective order is DENIED.

Plaintiffs may formally withdraw any of the documents lodged conditionally under seal within 10 days of this ruling. (CRC Rule 2.551(b)(6).) If there is no such withdrawal within this time period, all such documents shall be “unsealed” and placed in the public record. If the documents are unsealed, this Court will review and consider them, as relevant, for purposes of the continued motion for a protective order.

Any documents that are timely and formally withdrawn by the lodging party will not be considered for purposes of the continued motion.

DISCUSSION:

Motion for Protective Order

In light of Plaintiffs’ unsuccessful motion to seal certain documents filed with their opposition, this motion is CONTINUED to February 25, 2020, at 8:30 a.m.

Motion To Seal

Plaintiffs move to seal Exhibits L through FF, HH and II submitted with their opposition to this motion.

“Unless confidentiality is required by law, court records are presumed to be open.” (CRC 2.550.)

Here, Plaintiffs’ sole argument in their memorandum of points and authorities is that any confidential documents filed with the Court must be filed under seal pursuant to the parties’ stipulated protective order. However, this Court “cannot rely solely on an agreement or stipulation of the parties as the basis for permitting records to be filed under seal.” (Savaglio v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (2007) 149 Cal.App.4th 588, 600 (bold emphasis and underlining added).)

A motion seeking an order sealing the record must be accompanied by “a declaration containing facts sufficient to justify the sealing.” (CRC Rule 2.551(b)(1).) A court may order that a record be filed under seal “only if it expressly finds facts that establish” all of the following:

(1) There exists an overriding interest that overcomes the right of public access to the record;

(2) The overriding interest supports sealing the record;

(3) A substantial probability exists that the overriding interest will be prejudiced if the record is not sealed;

(4) The proposed sealing is narrowly tailored; and

(5) No less restrictive means exist to achieve the overriding interest.

(CRC 2.550(d).)

Here, the declaration submitted by Plaintiffs does not satisfy this standard. In fact, it does not appear that the Declaration of Attorney Brennan S. Kahn addressed any of these factors.

Accordingly, the motion to seal the record is DENIED.

Plaintiffs may formally withdraw any of the documents lodged conditionally under seal within 10 days of this ruling. (CRC Rule 2.551(b)(6).) If there is no such withdrawal within this time period, all such documents shall be “unsealed” and placed in the public record. If the documents are unsealed, this Court will review and consider them, as relevant, for purposes of the pending motion for a protective order.

Any documents that are timely and formally withdrawn by the lodging party will not be considered for purposes of the pending motion.

Moving party to give notice, unless waived.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Dated: February 4, 2020 ___________________________________

Randolph M. Hammock

Judge of the Superior Court

Any party may submit on the tentative ruling by contacting the courtroom via email at Smcdept47@lacourt.org


Case Number: ****0461    Hearing Date: July 08, 2020    Dept: 47

Alfredo Martinez, et al. v. Southern California Edison Company, et al.

GIVEN THE RECENT CORONAVIRUS CRISIS, THE COURT STRONGLY ENCOURAGES APPEARENCES BY COURT CALL. PLEASE MAKE SUCH ARRANGEMENTS IF YOU WISH TO APPEAR VIA COURT CALL AT (888) 882-6878 (OR WWW.COURTCALL.COM). IF YOU APPEAR IN PERSON AT THE HEARING, YOU WILL BE SUBJECT TO ALL SOCIAL DISTANCING RULES, INCLUDING THE WEARING OF AN APPROPRIATE FACE MASK/COVERING (ABSENT ANY EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES) AS CONTAINED IN THE APPLICABLE GENERAL ORDERS ISSUED BY THE PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE L.A.S.C.

MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER RE: PLAINTIFFS’ REQUEST TO TAKE 47 ADDITIONAL DEPOSITIONS

MOVING PARTY: Defendants Southern California Edison Company and Edison International

RESPONDING PARTY(S): Plaintiffs Alfredo Martinez and Justin Page

STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS AND/OR PROCEEDINGS:

This is a wrongful termination case. Plaintiffs Alfredo Martinez and Justin Page allege harassment based on sex and/or gender, retaliation, and related claims.

Defendants move for a protective order re: Plaintiffs’ request to take 47 additional depositions. At the last hearing in this case, on February 4, 2020, the Court ordered the parties to brief their positions regarding the proposed depositions in groups of ten. The parties have now filed briefs related to the next group of depositions, as to which they were unable to agree on three of the ten.

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendants Southern California Edison Company and Edison International’s motion for protective order re: Plaintiffs’ request to take 47 additional depositions is DENIED as to Anabel Olivares, Sherrelle Biggers, and Cynthia Longoria. The motion is MOOT as to the other seven witnesses Defendants have agreed to permit to be deposed: Michael Fuller, Niel Williams, Christina Warren, Joe Baca, Miguel Viagrand, William Wade, and Jarold “Wade” Parker.

Assuming that there are remaining depositions that the parties still dispute, the hearing on Defendants’ motion for protective order is CONTINUED to August 12, 2020 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 47 at Stanley Mosk Courthouse.

Plaintiffs are to file and serve a list of the next group they want to depose (with the reasons why) by July 29, 2020.

Defendants are to file and serve a response addressing any opposition to the depositions by August 5, 2020.

The parties may serve each other with the above items by email.

DISCUSSION:

Motion for Protective Order

Meet and Confer

The Declaration of Attorney Carly Nese, filed with the original motion, and the parties’ supplemental briefs establish that Defendants made a reasonable and good faith attempt at an informal resolution of each issue presented by this motion.

Analysis

Defendants move for a protective order to (1) prevent Plaintiffs from taking an additional 47 depositions, and (2) establish the sequence and timing of discovery prior to the hearing on Defendants’ motion for summary judgment or adjudication. At this time, three depositions are at issue: those of third parties Anabel Olivares, Sherelle Biggers, and Cynthia Longoria.

Defendants bring this motion pursuant to CCP ;; 2019.030(a) and 2025.420.

For “good cause shown,” the Court may grant a protective order to control deposition proceedings. (CCP ; 2025.420(b).)

(a)  Before, during, or after a deposition, any party, any deponent, or any other affected natural person or organization may promptly move for a protective order. The motion shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration under Section 2016.040.

(b)  The court, for good cause shown, may make any order that justice requires to protect any party, deponent, or other natural person or organization from unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment, or oppression, or undue burden and expense. This protective order may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following directions:

(1)  That the deposition not be taken at all.

(CCP ; 2025.420(a), (b).)

Here, as to the three depositions currently at issue, Defendants argue that would not lead to the discovery of admissible evidence because the deponents are female and therefore cannot serve as “me too” witnesses for the male plaintiffs in a case involving alleged harassment based on sex or gender. Defendants concede that they are willing to produce Anabel Oliveres for deposition to the extent that she may have witnessed allegedly harassing conduct (Defendants’ Supp. Reply, at p.5 n.3.) Defendants also concede that they are willing to produce Sherrelle Biggers for deposition regarding whether she complained about conduct and was retaliated against. (Id. at p.6, n.4.) Defendants do not indicate that they are willing to produce Cynthia Longoria on any basis.

At the outset, it is important to emphasize that the scope of discovery is broader than what would be admissible at trial. (CCP ; 2017.010.) The test for discoverability is whether the information sought might reasonably lead to other evidence that would be admissible. (Ibid.) Thus, to the extent that Defendants argue that these witnesses should not be deposed because their testimony would be inadmissible at trial, Defendants would have the Court limit discovery more than warranted. (E.g., Defendants’ Supp. Reply, at p.3 [arguing that evidence of alleged harassment may only be “admitted” when the employees are of the same sex and that Plaintiffs are not entitled to “present” evidence of harassment of employees outside of their protected class].) There are certainly bases on which fellow employees of a different gender than Plaintiffs could give testimony that would lead to the discovery of other admissible evidence, and Defendants have conceded as much as to two of these three witnesses.

Defendants nevertheless argue that these witnesses cannot lead to the discovery of admissible evidence (other than as conceded) because “me too” witnesses must be members of the same protected class as Plaintiffs (male).

“A claim for hostile environment sexual harassment exists under the FEHA where the plaintiff was subjected to unwelcome conduct or comments because of his or her sex and the result was harassment so severe or pervasive that the conditions of plaintiff’s employment were altered.” (Pantoja v. Anton (2011) 198 Cal.App.4th 87, 114, bold emphasis added.) Thus, as Defendants note, the “plaintiff must show that the harassing conduct took place because of the plaintiff’s sex, but need not show that the conduct was motivated by sexual desire.” (Ibid., bold emphasis added.) “In every case, . . . the plaintiff must show a discriminatory intent or motivation based on gender.” (Ibid.) Thus, “me-too evidence” is admissible if it “tend[s] to show that gender bias motivated the alleged [conduct].” (Ibid.) This is because a “hostile environment, to be actionable, still must constitute a form of ‘discrimina[tion] . . . because of . . . sex,’ . . . and, in fact, the FEHA ‘regard[s] the prohibition against sexual harassment as part and parcel of the proscription against sexual discrimination.” (Id. at 115, citations omitted.) Thus, in Pantoja, the trial court abused its discretion when it excluded me-too evidence from “other female employees.” (Id. at 116, bold emphasis added.)

At the same time, “evidence of one type of discriminatory conduct can . . . be probative of a defendant’s mental state in engaging in another type of conduct.” (Pantoja, supra, 198 Cal.App.4th at 115.) Thus, for example, “evidence of a male supervisor’s sexually offensive remarks to and touching of other women employees is probative of the supervisor’s discriminatory intent in firing a female plaintiff for refusing to have sex with him.” (Ibid.) Indeed, in Pantoja, the me-too evidence that had been erroneously excluded “was relevant both to prove gender bias and to rebut the defense evidence that [the defendant] had a policy of not tolerating harassment and a practice of not directing profanity at individuals.” (Id. at 116, bold emphasis added.) For the latter purpose, at least, it is hard to imagine that the witnesses would have to share Plaintiffs’ gender.

In addition to Pantoja, Defendants rely on Hatai v. Department of Transportation (2013) 214 Cal.App.4th 1287, disapproved on other grounds by Williams v. Chino Valley Independent Fire District (2015) 61 Cal.4th 97 to support their argument that “me too” evidence is inadmissible from witnesses outside of the plaintiff’s protected class. In that case, the court held that the trial court properly excluded “evidence of discrimination against employees outside of Hatai’s protected class to show discrimination or harassment against Hatai.” (Id. at 1298.) Hatai could offer evidence that “other employees . . . of east Asian or Japanese descent had been subjected to similar discrimination,” but not evidence of discrimination against those outside of his protected class, “given the nature of Hatai’s lawsuit.” (Id.) The nature of the suit was that he alleged he was a person of “Asian or Japanese race or national origin or ancestry” and that he “suffered discrimination, harassment and retaliation on the basis of his national origin and/or race.” (Id. at 1297-1298.) In other words, the case was “pled as an anti-Asian case, not as an Arab favoritism case,” which might have made other witnesses more relevant. (Id. at 1298.) Thus, issues relating to employees outside of his protected class were of “tangential relevance.” (Id. at 1298.)

Here, in contrast, Plaintiffs’ allegations make the challenged testimony directly relevant. The complaint is replete with allegations directly related to Ms. Olivares and Ms. Biggers. (E.g., Complaint ¶¶ 19, 21, 29, 31, 32.) A review of the Court’s file for this case does not indicate that Defendants ever moved to strike these allegations from the complaint as irrelevant. Thus, the “nature of the lawsuit” here involves allegations directly involving at least two of the three deponents at issue in this motion. There is no indication that the same is true in Hatai.

Other than Pantoja and Hatai, the only other case Defendants rely on is Beyda v. City of Los Angeles (1998) 65 Cal.App.4th 511. In that case, the court held that “evidence of harassment of persons other than the plaintiff” was not relevant to “prove that they engaged in similar conduct” against the plaintiff, because that would be inadmissible evidence that went to “propensity.” (Id. at 518.) This evidence was relevant, however, “as further evidence of the hostile environment,” to the extent that the plaintiff knew about it. (Id. at 519, 521.) In dictum, the court stated that this evidence “would have been relevant to establish the pervasiveness of sexual harassment” in the workplace, but ultimately the plaintiff’s case “faltered” for other reasons. (Id. at 521.) Thus, other than on the “propensity” point, this case does not support the proposition for which Defendants offer it: that “Courts have allowed” me-too evidence from employees of the same sex. (Defendants’ Motion, at pp. 10-11.) That evidence was excluded in Beyda, and even the most relevant statement in the case is dictum. (Id. at 516, 521.)

Ultimately, circling back to the scope of discovery contrasted with admissibility at trial, the bottom line is that none of Defendants’ cases address the propriety of a deposition of employees outside of a plaintiff’s protected class. Nor do they provide any guidance on the proper scope of such a deposition. Rather, all three of Defendants’ cases relate to evidentiary rules applicable at trial, not the standards for discovery. Thus, whereas Defendants may be correct that Plaintiffs might seek to stretch the boundaries of admissibility at trial, Defendants are now attempting to overly restrict the boundaries of what is discoverable.

Of course, other jurisdictions have recognized the concept of the “equal opportunity” harasser – someone who is not satisfied with harassing only one gender and chooses to harass both men and women. Under Title VII, some courts take the view that such a person cannot be liable for sexual harassment, reasoning that the harassment is not “because of” gender. (E.g., Holman v. State of Indiana (7th Cir. 2000) 211 F.3d 399, 403.) Others, however, recognize that this conduct can create a hostile work environment and can be the basis for a hostile work environment sexual harassment claim, if the harassment of both the men and women is based on their gender. For example, in Chiapuzio v. BLT Operating Corp. (D.Wyo. 1993) 826 F.Supp. 1334, a husband and wife were both subjected to sexually abusive remarks. (Id. at 1335.) The defendant sought summary judgment on their sexual harassment claim under Title VII, on the ground that the supervisor “harassed both male and female employees alike and, therefore, he could not have discriminated against the plaintiffs at bar based on gender.” (Id. at 1336.) The court reasoned, in part, that “[w]here a harasser violates both men and women, ‘it is not unthinkable to argue that each individual who is harassed is being treated badly because of gender.’” (Id. at 1337, citation omitted.) Thus, the supervisor was an “‘equal-opportunity’ harasser whose remarks were gender-driven.” (Ibid.) The court therefore rejected the defendant’s assumption that “if a harasser harasses both genders equally, it necessarily follows that the harasser did not harass the employees ‘but for’ their gender.” (Ibid.) The court also found specifically that the plaintiffs – both male and female – could introduce evidence of the supervisor’s actions toward the wife of one of the plaintiffs, because it was “relevant as to the general work atmosphere, and relevant as to whether [the supervisor] intended to harass and/or harm [the employee] because of his gender.” (Id. at 1338; see also Steiner v. Showboat Operating Co. (9th Cir. 1994) 25 F.3d 1459, 1464 [explaining that similar treatment of men and women may mean both men and women are being sexually harassed].)

Although Chiapuzio is not binding authority on this Court and was decided under Title VII, not FEHA, “California courts frequently seek guidance from Title VII decisions when interpreting the FEHA and its prohibitions against sexual harassment.” (Lyle v. Warner Brothers Television Productions (2006) 38 Cal.4th 264, 278.) Moreover, Chiapuzio’s reasoning is consistent with the broad view of relevance expressed in at least one of Defendants’ cases, Pantoja. As discussed above, that court acknowledged that the erroneously excluded me-too evidence was relevant not only to prove gender bias, but also to “rebut the defense evidence that [the defendant] had a policy of not tolerating harassment and a practice of not directing profanity at individuals.” (Pantoja, supra, 198 Cal.App.4th at 116.) None of Defendants’ cases suggest that the testimony of fellow employees outside of Plaintiffs’ protected class has no relevance. Indeed, the admissibility issues in those cases would not have arisen if those plaintiffs were not able to discover evidence from those witnesses.

Here, Plaintiffs argue that the three challenged individuals – Anabel Olivares, Sherrelle Biggers, and Cynthia Longoria – “possess directly relevant information to, and inextricably linked with, Plaintiffs’ allegations of harassment, retaliation, Defendants’ knowledge of an unchecked history of harassment, and, thus, their failure to remedy the hostile work environment which then persisted until it ultimately harmed Plaintiffs.” (Plaintiffs’ Supp. Brief, at p.2.) Based on the Court’s review of the complaint, Plaintiffs are correct that this testimony is likely to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence relevant to their claims. In addition, Plaintiffs have made clear that these are not just “me too” witnesses but also fact witnesses; therefore, there is no valid basis on which to limit their deposition testimony to any predetermined topics. (Id. at p.10 n.6.)

Accordingly, the motion for protective order is DENIED as to Anabel Olivares, Sherrelle Biggers, and Cynthia Longoria. The motion is MOOT as to the other seven witnesses Defendants have agreed to permit to be deposed: Michael Fuller, Niel Williams, Christina Warren, Joe Baca, Miguel Viagrand, William Wade, and Jarold “Wade” Parker.

Assuming that there are remaining depositions that the parties dispute, the hearing on Defendants’ motion for protective order is CONTINUED to August 12, 2020 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 47 at Stanley Mosk Courthouse.

Plaintiffs are to file and serve a list of the next group they want to depose (with the reasons why) by July 29, 2020.

Defendants are to file and serve a response addressing any opposition to the depositions by August 5, 2020.

The parties may serve each other with the above items by email.

In conclusion, and for observational purposes only, the parties (and especially the Plaintiffs) should bear in mind that although the courts generally appreciate and even encourage counsel to be “well prepared” for trial, at some point there may arise an issue as to whether the desire to take dozens and dozens of depositions could constitute a pattern of harassment and/or the needless generating of attorney’s fees, rather than to seek legitimate discovery goals. Accordingly, Plaintiffs should choose wisely as to whom and how many witnesses the seek to depose in this particular case. Food for thought.

Moving party to give notice, unless waived.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Dated: July 8, 2020 ___________________________________

Randolph M. Hammock

Judge of the Superior Court

Any party may submit on the tentative ruling by contacting the courtroom via email at Smcdept47@lacourt.org by no later than 4:00 p.m. the day before the hearing.  All interested parties must be copied on the email.  It should be noted that if you submit on a tentative ruling the court will still conduct a hearing if any party appears. By submitting on the tentative you have, in essence, waived your right to be present at the hearing, and you should be aware that the court may not adopt the tentative, and may issue an order which modifies the tentative ruling in whole or in part.


Case Number: ****0461    Hearing Date: October 21, 2020    Dept: 47

Alfredo Martinez, et al. v. Southern California Edison Company, et al.

 

GIVEN THE CURRENT CORONAVIRUS CRISIS, THE COURT STRONGLY ENCOURAGES REMOTE APPEARENCES BY “LACourtConnect.” PLEASE MAKE SUCH ARRANGEMENTS IF YOU WISH TO APPEAR REMOTELY AT WWW.LACOURT.ORG/LACC/. NO OTHER TYPES OF REMOTE APPEARANCES ARE AVAILABLE FOR THIS PARTICULAR COURTROOM, INCLUDING COURT CALL. IF YOU APPEAR IN PERSON AT THE HEARING, YOU WILL BE SUBJECT TO ALL SOCIAL DISTANCING RULES, INCLUDING THE WEARING OF AN APPROPRIATE FACE MASK/COVERING (ABSENT ANY EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES) AS CONTAINED IN THE APPLICABLE GENERAL ORDERS ISSUED BY THE PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE L.A.S.C.

MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER RE: PLAINTIFFS’ REQUEST TO TAKE 47 ADDITIONAL DEPOSITIONS

MOVING PARTY: Defendants Southern California Edison Company and Edison International

RESPONDING PARTY(S): Plaintiffs Alfredo Martinez and Justin Page

STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS AND/OR PROCEEDINGS:

This is a wrongful termination case. Plaintiffs Alfredo Martinez and Justin Page allege harassment based on sex and/or gender, retaliation, and related claims.

In January 2020, Defendants moved for a protective order re: Plaintiffs’ request to take 47 additional depositions. On February 4, 2020, the Court ordered the parties to brief their positions regarding the proposed depositions in groups of ten. For a hearing on July 8, 2020, the parties were unable to agree on three of the ten; the motion for a protective order was denied as to those three witnesses.

This hearing relates to the second group of ten witnesses, three of whom Defendants have agreed to produce. Plaintiffs request that the Court deny the motion as to the other seven witnesses, which would bring the total to ten depositions ordered by the Court (five per Plaintiff). Plaintiffs indicate that they expect this to be the last round of depositions in dispute.

TENTATIVE RULING:

The court has read and considered all pleadings in connection with this matter. No tentative is issued at this time. Counsel to “appear” and argue, or in the alternative, they may submit on their respective pleadings.

The motion is MOOT as to the other three witnesses Defendants have agreed to permit to be deposed: Troy Nielsen, Cynthia Carillo, and Tamara Sigman.

DISCUSSION:

Motion for Protective Order

Meet and Confer

The Declaration of Attorney Carly Nese, filed with the original motion, and the parties’ supplemental briefs establish that Defendants made a reasonable and good faith attempt at an informal resolution of each issue presented by this motion.

Analysis

Defendants initially moved for a protective order to (1) prevent Plaintiffs from taking an additional 47 depositions, and (2) establish the sequence and timing of discovery prior to the hearing on Defendants’ motion for summary judgment or adjudication. At this time, seven depositions are at issue: those of Irma Knight, Samantha Poitra, Gabby Campos, Soo Lohse, Angel Mejia, Jr., Ryan Barfield, and Jose Miranda.

Defendants bring this motion pursuant to CCP ;; 2019.030(a) and 2025.420.

For “good cause shown,” the Court may grant a protective order to control deposition proceedings. (CCP ; 2025.420(b).)

(a)  Before, during, or after a deposition, any party, any deponent, or any other affected natural person or organization may promptly move for a protective order. The motion shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration under Section 2016.040.

(b)  The court, for good cause shown, may make any order that justice requires to protect any party, deponent, or other natural person or organization from unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment, or oppression, or undue burden and expense. This protective order may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following directions:

(1)  That the deposition not be taken at all.

(2) That the deposition be taken at a different time.

(3) That a video recording of the deposition testimony of a treating or consulting physician or of any expert witness, intended for possible use at trial under subdivision (d) of Section 2025.620, be postponed until the moving party has had an adequate opportunity to prepare, by discovery deposition of the deponent, or other means, for cross-examination.

(4) That the deposition be taken at a place other than that specified in the deposition notice, if it is within a distance permitted by Sections 2025.250 and 2025.260.

(5) That the deposition be taken only on certain specified terms and conditions.

(6) That the deponent's testimony be taken by written, instead of oral, examination.

(7) That the method of discovery be interrogatories to a party instead of an oral deposition.

(8) That the testimony be recorded in a manner different from that specified in the deposition notice.

(9) That certain matters not be inquired into.

(10) That the scope of the examination be limited to certain matters.

(11) That all or certain of the writings or tangible things designated in the deposition notice not be produced, inspected, copied, tested, or sampled, or that conditions be set for the production of electronically stored information designated in the deposition notice.

(12) That designated persons, other than the parties to the action and their officers and counsel, be excluded from attending the deposition.

(13) That a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information not be disclosed or be disclosed only to specified persons or only in a specified way.

(14) That the parties simultaneously file specified documents enclosed in sealed envelopes to be opened as directed by the court.

(15) That the deposition be sealed and thereafter opened only on order of the court.

(16)  That examination of the deponent be terminated. If an order terminates the examination, the deposition shall not thereafter be resumed, except on order of the court.

(CCP ; 2025.420(a), (b).)

The parties’ arguments as to these witnesses are as follows:

  1. Irma Knight

    Plaintiffs: Worked with Plaintiff Justin Page in the same position as him under the three harassing supervisors. Named as a witness to harassment and alleged to have engaged in it herself. Interviewed as part of the harassment investigation.

    Defendants: Knight was never identified as an alleged harasser before. Willing to produce her only on that topic (Page’s allegation that she is an alleged harasser). Outside of that topic, she should not be deposed for the reasons discussed below as the general arguments below as to Poitra.

  2. Samantha Poitra

    Plaintiffs: Worked with Page as a designer in the same department. Names as a victim and witness to sexual harassment. Interviewed as part of the harassment investigation.

    Defendants: Completed depositions of other female “me too” witnesses show that Plaintiffs have no reasonable basis to keep requesting depositions of female employees. None of the previous witnesses testified that they witnessed any inappropriate conduct directed at Page. Also, (as argued previously and rejected previously), “me too” witnesses have to be the same sex as Plaintiffs.

    Defendants’ additional argument unique to Poitra: Deposing her would invade third parties’ right to privacy because she would be asked about an alleged intimate relationship between Sigman and Farr. This would also be cumulative on that subject.

  3. Gabby Campos

    Plaintiffs: Worked with Plaintiff Alfredo Martinez and complained about harassment in 2016. Defendants deny receiving these complaints.

    Defendants: Same as general arguments as to Poitra.

  4. Soo Lohse

    Plaintiffs: Worked with Page in the same position as him under the three harassing supervisors (like Irma Knight). Named as a witness to harassment (like Knight) and alleged to have been a victim herself (like Poitra). Not interviewed as part of the harassment investigation.

    Defendants: Same as general arguments as to Poitra.

  5. Angel Mejia, Jr.

    Plaintiffs: Worked with Page in the same position as him under the three harassing supervisors (like Knight and Lohse). According to Page, present during conversations where sex was discussed. Not interviewed during the investigation.

    Defendants: This would be duplicative. Plaintiffs are not entitled to “recreate” Defendants’ investigation or undertake their own investigation. Plaintiffs do not say who he witnessed being harassed.

  6. Ryan Barfield

    Plaintiffs: Worked with Page in the same position as him under the three harassing supervisors (like Knight, Lohse, and Mejia). According to Page, present when Page was harassed. Not interviewed during the investigation.

    Defendants: Same as Mejia.

  7. Jose Miranda

    Plaintiffs: Worked with Page in the same position as him under the three harassing supervisors (like Knight, Lohse, Mejia, and Barfield). According to witness Longoria, present during conversations in which sex was discussed in the workplace. Not interviewed during the investigation.

    Defendants: Same as Mejia.

    Defendants’ Additional Argument as to All Seven Witnesses

    Plaintiffs should not be permitted to inquire into the personal and private lives of these witnesses, such as by asking about their relationships and their sexual orientation.

  8. This Court will hear further oral argument from counsel as to the relevant issues and issue orders accordingly.


  9. Case Number: ****0461 Hearing Date: March 30, 2022 Dept: 47

    ALFREDO MARTINEZ ET AL VS SOUTHERN CA EDISON COMPANY ET AL, Case No. ****0461
    TENTATIVE RULINGS ON MOTIONS IN LIMINE
    Final Status Conference: 3/30/22
    Defendant’s MIL #1: seeking exclusion of evidence and argument regarding purported “me too” evidence
    TENTATIVE RULING: DENIED IN PART with respect to the request for a broad exclusion order but GRANTED IN PART, in that the Court orders Plaintiffs to identify in writing the exhibits they will be offering by stipulation or otherwise and the witnesses whose testimony will be offered at trial by videotaped deposition or live, no later than by noon on April 5, 2022 – the day before the Final Status Conference.
    As Plaintiffs argue in their supplemental briefing, the kind of evidence Plaintiffs reference in their Compendium of Evidence may be admissible to corroborate Plaintiff Page’s allegations that he was subjected to sexual harassment. Such evidence may be relevant to show that the alleged harassment of Plaintiff by Defendants’ supervisors and employees reflected a design, plan or pattern of misconduct because of the similarities between the misconduct directed at others and the harassment suffered by Plaintiff. (Evidence Code 1101(b); People v. Ewoldt (1994) 7 Cal. 4th 380, 393–94.) Defendants seem to argue that the only similar conduct is sexual harassment of men, but the Court disagrees. The character of the misconduct reflected in the target evidence may be substantially similar to the harassment suffered by Plaintiff for other reasons, such as the highly sexualized nature of the conduct, including patterns of propositioning sex, talking about or touching sexual body parts, and offering graphic descriptions of past or proposed sexual acts. Such evidence may also be admissible to support the credibility of Plaintiff in his complaints about the kind of harassment he claims to have suffered or to attack the credibility of others who deny such harassment took place in their presence, either because they themselves were accused of unlawful harassment or for other reasons. (Evidence Code 1101(c).)
    The evidence referred to by Plaintiffs in their Compendium may also be admissible to demonstrate that Plaintiff was subjected to harassment by co-workers because such misconduct is unlawful where the employer, “or its agents or supervisors, knows or should have known of [the employee’s harassment] and fails to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.” (Gov’t Code 12940(j)(1).) To the extent that any of the co-worker harassment complained of by Plaintiff occurred in the presence of Defendants’ supervisors, Kanowsky, Farr, and Morgan, or was otherwise known to them, the question of Defendants’ liability for that misconduct may depend on the nature of their managerial authority. A supervisor’s knowledge of co-worker harassment will be imputed to the employer where the supervisor has “substantial authority and discretion to make decisions concerning the terms of the harasser's or harassee's employment, such as authority to counsel, investigate, suspend, or fire the accused harasser, or to change the conditions of the harassee's employment,” or even it the supervisor lacks that authority, he or she will be “nonetheless classified as management if he has an official or strong de facto duty to act as a conduit to management for complaints about work conditions.” (Swinton v. Potomac Corp. (9th Cir. 2001) 270 F.3d 794, 804–05 [Citations and internal quotation marks omitted].)
    In addition, evidence of harassment by Defendants’ employees who were not disciplined may be admissible to show that Defendant failed to conduct a thorough and effective investigation and to take steps to prevent harassment from occurring. The same is true as to testimony by harassment victims and others who recounted harassment in the workplace during their depositions that was not uncovered by Defendants or that was left unremedied. Evidence of harassment by undisciplined employees might also be probative of Plaintiffs’ retaliation claims. To the extent that Defendants retained harassers in their prior positions without meting out any discipline, those individuals may have been in a position to retaliate against Plaintiff Martinez, who alleges that he received seven largely anonymous complaints against him from February 23, 2017 through April 10, 2017 that were used by Defendant to terminate him. Further, Plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence to show that Defendants’ maintaining these “bad actors” in their jobs forced him to transfer to another locale to avoid contact with them.
    Finally, Plaintiffs argue that the kind of evidence they seek to offer will corroborate their good faith belief in the complaints they made to Defendants about harassment in the workplace and to demonstrate the likelihood that their complaints would provoke a retaliatory intent on Defendants’ part. While it is true that some of the evidence referenced would be probative of these matters, the Court questions the need for the volume of evidence referenced by Plaintiff to achieve these ends, particularly given Defendants’ offer to stipulate to the admission of many key exhibits that are referred to in Plaintiffs’ Appendix A. Before ruling on the admissibility of specific evidence offered for this purpose or for any of the other reasons outlined above, the Court needs to know what documentary evidence will be offered by stipulation or otherwise. Only then can the Court rule on Defendants’ objection that the testimony or other evidence offered by Plaintiffs is cumulative.
    In summary, the Court concludes that much of the evidence discussed in the parties’ supplemental briefing is probative of key issues that will be tried and, thus, declines to issue the broad exclusionary order sought by Defendants. But to determine whether specific testimony or other evidence falls into the categories outlined above or to assess whether the evidence is cumulative and should be limited to avoid duplication, the Court must have notice of specific testimony and other evidence Plaintiffs seek to offer. Accordingly, the Court orders Plaintiffs to identify in writing the exhibits they will be offering by stipulation or otherwise and the witnesses whose testimony will be offered at trial by videotaped deposition or live, no later than by noon on April 5, 2022 – the day before the Final Status Conference.
    Defendant’s MIL #5: Seeking exclusion of evidence of alleged expenses incurred and/or reimbursed
    TENTATIVE RULING: DENIED
    Defendant’s MIL #6: Seeking exclusion of evidence of alleged improper conduct or harassment outside the workplace
    TENTATIVE RULING: DENIED
    Plaintiffs seek to demonstrate that Defendants’ supervisors engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment that was conducted not only on the worksite but in various social settings such as restaurants, bars, and golf course. Plaintiffs will offer evidence that these off-site gatherings were work-related because Defendants’ supervisors regularly pressured employees to join in these social events as a condition of employment and often during work hours. Such an argument is viable, since an employer is liable for unlawful harassment that occurs outside of the workplace where the off-site interaction or meeting has a work-related connection. (Myers v. Trendwest Resorts, Inc. (2007) 148 Cal. App. 4th 1403, 1420.)
    Plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence to demonstrate the connection between these social gatherings organized by Defendants’ harassing supervisors. In support of their theory, Plaintiffs may offer evidence that the harassing supervisors used their authority to arrange these off-site gatherings and to pressure Plaintiff Page and others to attend the outings as a condition of their employment. They may also present admissible evidence of expenses incurred by Defendants’ harassing supervisors for these for off-site gatherings, requests for reimbursements approved by a disciplined manager, and reimbursements paid by Defendants, as further support for the work-related character of the off-site activities. The evidence that may be offered by Plaintiff is relevant to these issues even if Plaintiff Page does not claim to have been harassed at all the off-site events. The pattern of supervisor conduct and expense reimbursements as to these kinds of social gatherings outside the workplace is relevant to show that a particular off-site event where Plaintiff Page was harassed was in fact work-related.
    The Court finds that such evidence is probative of Plaintiffs’ contention that Defendants’ supervisors pursued a pattern of work-related harassment that occurred at the workplace and also spilled over into off-site activities organized and paid for by the same supervisors. The Court also concludes that the probative value of this evidence outweighs any of the concerns raised by Defendants under Evidence Code 352.


    related-case-search

    Dig Deeper

    Get Deeper Insights on Court Cases


    Latest cases where ALDERLAW PC is a litigant

    Latest cases where EDISON INTERNATIONAL is a litigant

    Latest cases where SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON COMPANY is a litigant

    Latest cases represented by Lawyer DERUBERTIS DAVID MICHAEL