This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 12/07/2019 at 16:40:57 (UTC).

MARIA BEATON VS AZUSA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

Case Summary

On 06/11/2019 MARIA BEATON filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against AZUSA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Pomona Courthouse South located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are STEPHEN I. GOORVITCH, SAMANTHA JESSNER, PETER A. HERNANDEZ and GLORIA WHITE-BROWN. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******0228

  • Filing Date:

    06/11/2019

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury

  • Courthouse:

    Pomona Courthouse South

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

STEPHEN I. GOORVITCH

SAMANTHA JESSNER

PETER A. HERNANDEZ

GLORIA WHITE-BROWN

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

BEATON MARIA

Defendants

AZUSA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

JAMES COREY MR.

RUBALCABA RAMIRO MR.

SHERMAN LEROY MR.

HOKE JACKIE MS.

PEGORARI LORRAINE MS.

KAMINSKI LINDA MS.

BOMMARITO MARC MR.

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Defendant Attorney

KUNS JOSHUA ALAN

 

Court Documents

Ex Parte Application - EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER; REQUEST FOR MONETARY SANCTIONS; LEAVE FOR AMEND SECOND COMPLAINT AND EXHIBITS

12/5/2019: Ex Parte Application - EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER; REQUEST FOR MONETARY SANCTIONS; LEAVE FOR AMEND SECOND COMPLAINT AND EXHIBITS

Proof of Service by Mail - PROOF OF SERVICE BY MAIL CIVIL SUBPOENA

12/4/2019: Proof of Service by Mail - PROOF OF SERVICE BY MAIL CIVIL SUBPOENA

Proof of Service by Mail - PROOF OF SERVICE BY MAIL CIVIL SUBPOENA

12/4/2019: Proof of Service by Mail - PROOF OF SERVICE BY MAIL CIVIL SUBPOENA

Proof of Service by Mail - PROOF OF SERVICE BY MAIL CIVIL SUBPOENA

12/4/2019: Proof of Service by Mail - PROOF OF SERVICE BY MAIL CIVIL SUBPOENA

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (DEFENDANT'S HEARING ON EX PARTE APPLICATION TO ADVANCE AND CO...)

12/5/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (DEFENDANT'S HEARING ON EX PARTE APPLICATION TO ADVANCE AND CO...)

Notice of Ruling

12/5/2019: Notice of Ruling

Challenge To Judicial Officer - Peremptory (170.6)

11/25/2019: Challenge To Judicial Officer - Peremptory (170.6)

Separate Statement

11/26/2019: Separate Statement

Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses

11/26/2019: Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (EX-PARTE PROCEEDINGS) OF 11/13/2019

11/13/2019: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (EX-PARTE PROCEEDINGS) OF 11/13/2019

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR [REQUEST FOR ACCOMMODATIONS BY PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES AND RESPONSE - ORDER]

11/13/2019: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR [REQUEST FOR ACCOMMODATIONS BY PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES AND RESPONSE - ORDER]

Response - ANSWER OR RESPONSE TO INTERROGATORIES SET 1 DATED SEPTEMBER 4, 2019

10/25/2019: Response - ANSWER OR RESPONSE TO INTERROGATORIES SET 1 DATED SEPTEMBER 4, 2019

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR [REQUEST FOR ACCOMMODATIONS BY PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES AND RESPONSE]

11/4/2019: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR [REQUEST FOR ACCOMMODATIONS BY PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES AND RESPONSE]

Notice - NOTICE DEFENDANT AZUSA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT'S NOTICE OF EXTENSION TO THE RESPONSIVE PLEADING DEADLINE PER CCP SECTION 430.41(A)(2)

7/15/2019: Notice - NOTICE DEFENDANT AZUSA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT'S NOTICE OF EXTENSION TO THE RESPONSIVE PLEADING DEADLINE PER CCP SECTION 430.41(A)(2)

Proof of Personal Service

8/8/2019: Proof of Personal Service

PI General Order

6/17/2019: PI General Order

Summons - SUMMONS ON COMPLAINT

6/11/2019: Summons - SUMMONS ON COMPLAINT

Notice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case

6/11/2019: Notice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case

45 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 02/06/2020
  • Hearing02/06/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department J at 400 Civic Center Plaza, Pomona, CA 91766; Status Conference

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  • 01/21/2020
  • Hearing01/21/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department J at 400 Civic Center Plaza, Pomona, CA 91766; Hearing on Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses

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  • 01/21/2020
  • Hearing01/21/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department J at 400 Civic Center Plaza, Pomona, CA 91766; Hearing on Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses

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  • 01/21/2020
  • Hearing01/21/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department J at 400 Civic Center Plaza, Pomona, CA 91766; Hearing on Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses

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  • 01/21/2020
  • Hearing01/21/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department J at 400 Civic Center Plaza, Pomona, CA 91766; Hearing on Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses

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  • 12/05/2019
  • Docketat 09:00 AM in Department J, Gloria White-Brown, Presiding; Hearing on Ex Parte Application (to Advance and Consolidate the Hearing Date for Defendant's Four Related Motions to Compel Set for Hearings on January 21, 22 and March 2, and 4, 2020) - Held - Motion Granted

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  • 12/05/2019
  • DocketNotice of Ruling; Filed by Azusa Unified School District (Defendant)

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  • 12/05/2019
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Defendant's Hearing on Ex Parte Application to Advance and Co...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 12/05/2019
  • DocketEx Parte Application (For Protective Order; Request for Monetary Sanctions; Leave for Amend Second Complaint and Exhibits); Filed by Maria Beaton (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/05/2019
  • DocketOrder ([Proposed] Order re Defendant Azusa Unified School District's Ex Parte Application to Advance and Consolidate the Hearing Date for Defendant's Four Related Motions to Compel Set for Hearings on January 21, 22 and March 2, and 4, 2020); Filed by Azusa Unified School District (Defendant)

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52 More Docket Entries
  • 07/19/2019
  • DocketDemurrer - without Motion to Strike; Filed by Azusa Unified School District (Defendant)

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  • 07/15/2019
  • DocketNotice (Defendant Azusa Unified School District's Notice of Extension to the Responsive Pleading Deadline Per CCP Section 430.41(A)(2)); Filed by Azusa Unified School District (Defendant)

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  • 06/25/2019
  • DocketClerk's Notice of Filing Fees Required - NSF; Filed by Clerk

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  • 06/17/2019
  • DocketPI General Order; Filed by Clerk

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  • 06/17/2019
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for ([PI General Order] and Standing Order re PI Procedures and Hearing Dates); Filed by Clerk

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  • 06/11/2019
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Maria Beaton (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/11/2019
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

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  • 06/11/2019
  • DocketComplaint (First); Filed by Maria Beaton (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/11/2019
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Maria Beaton (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/11/2019
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by Clerk

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 19STCV20228    Hearing Date: January 14, 2021    Dept: C

BEATON v. AZUSA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

CASE NO.:  19STCV20228

HEARING:  01/14/21

#5

TENTATIVE ORDER

Defendant AZUSA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT’s Motion for Attorney’s Fees is GRANTED in part in the reduced amount of $18,500.00.

Moving Party to give Notice.

The Court notes that Plaintiff (in pro per) filed an Opposition on January 4, 2021, and an Amended Opposition on January 4, 2021. Plaintiff’s Opposition was supposed to be filed and served by no later than December 31, 2020 (9 court days before the hearing) pursuant to CCP §1005(b). Notwithstanding, Defendant’s arguments in Reply indicate that they have had an opportunity to review Plaintiff’s untimely filings, and would not be prejudiced by the Court’s consideration of Plaintiff’s untimely briefs.

Defendant argues that an award of attorney’s fees is appropriate under Gov. Code §12965(b) because “Plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit after she settled her claims, and continued to pursue these claims even after it became clear to her that her claims were both settled and time barred….. Plaintiff’s continued pursuit of her claims was unreasonable and frivolous.” (Motion 4:3-8.)

In Opposition, Plaintiff argues that Plaintiff’s claims are not unreasonable or frivolous because the settlement agreement is void and unenforceable; and Plaintiff’s employment claims are not time-barred.

Gov. Code §12965(b) provides, in part, that “[i]n actions brought under this section, the court, in its discretion, may award to the prevailing party reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, including expert witness fees.” Therefore, attorney’s fees and costs may be recovered by the prevailing party in any action brought under the FEHA. (Bond v. Pulsar Video Productions (1996) 50 Cal.App.4th, 918.) However, “a plaintiff should not be assessed his opponent’s attorney’s fees unless a court finds, that his claim was frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless.” (Cummings v. Banco Building Services (1992) 11 Cal.App.4th 1383, 1387-1388.) Gov. Code §12965(b) authorizes attorneys’ fees to a prevailing defendant in a FEHA action if the Court determines that a plaintiff’s case was frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless, or the plaintiff continued to litigate after the case clearly because so.”

Although not articulated in the Moving Papers or Reply, the Court notes that Defendant may also be entitled to attorney’s fees as to Plaintiff’s non-FEHA claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress under the common-law “bad faith” exception. Courts have an inherent power to award attorneys’ fees for bad faith conduct as a matter of justice, and can order a defendant to recover attorneys’ fees when a plaintiff acts in bad faith, vexatiously, wantonly, or for oppressive reasons. (Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. v. Wilderness Society (1975) 421 U.S. 240, 258-259.)

Defendant qualifies as a “prevailing party” because on June 17, 2020, this Court granted Defendant’s Ex Parte Application to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ Entire Action with Prejudice due to Plaintiff’s Failure to Timely File a Second Amended Complaint by Court Order. (Min. Order, 06/17/20.)

The Motion for Attorney’s Fees is GRANTED. In its ruling on Defendant’s Demurrer to Plaintiff’s FAC, the Court outlined all of the deficiencies raised by Defendant in the instant Motion. Specifically, the Court found that Plaintiff failed to allege that she properly exhausted her administrative remedies by filing charges with the DFEH; that Plaintiff was aware in 2016 and 2017 that Plaintiff’s previous action (BC655611) and Plaintiff’s EEOC charges do not address the same wrongs to support the applicability of equitable tolling in this case; that Plaintiff fails to allege compliance with the tort claims act; and that Plaintiff’s claims are barred by res judicata. (See Order, 04/09/20.) Notwithstanding, Plaintiff failed to timely file a Second Amended Complaint to cure any of the deficiencies highlighted by the Court in its Order sustaining Defendant’s Demurrer to the First Amended Complaint with 30 days leave to amend. Moreover, and perhaps more important, despite being placed on notice of the deficiencies articulated above by both this Court, and the Defendant (on multiple occasions), Plaintiff continued to prosecute her claims. (See Kuns Decl., Ex. 7.) As such, this Court finds that Plaintiff’s continued prosecution of barred claims is harassing, frivolous, and groundless. Accordingly, reasonable, reduced attorneys’ fees are warranted.

The determination of a reasonable amount of attorney’s fees is within the sound discretion of trial courts. (PLCM Group v. Drexler (2000) 22 Cal.4th 1084, 1095.) “The determination of what constitutes a reasonable fee generally begins with the lodestar, i.e., the number of hours reasonably expended multiplied by the reasonable hourly rate.” (Graciano v. Robinson Ford Sales, Inc. (2006) 144 Cal.App.4th 140, 154.)

Defendant submits that it has incurred $41,855.00 in attorney fees for 226.2 hours of work, supported by hourly rates of $185 and $225. The Court reduces the hourly rate to $185 for all of the work and subtracts Defendant’s Counsel’s claimed hours by 126.2 hours. The Court finds that the number of hours billed for the legislation is excessive and/or duplicative. Defendant’s firm attempts to bill for excessive hours of reviewing, analyzing, and finalizing documents. Defendant’s Motion for Attorney’s Fees is GRANTED in the reduced amount of $18,500.00.

Case Number: 19STCV20228    Hearing Date: March 03, 2020    Dept: SEC

BEATON v. AZUSA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

CASE NO.: 19STCV20228

HEARING: 3/3/20

JUDGE: OLIVIA ROSALES

#6

TENTATIVE ORDER

I. Defendant Azusa Unified School District’s motion to compel further responses to first set for employment law form interrogatories, and request for monetary sanctions is GRANTED.

II. Defendant Azusa Unified School District’s motion to compel further responses to first set of special interrogatories, and request for monetary sanctions is GRANTED.

III. Defendant Azusa Unified School District’s motion to compel further responses to first set of general form interrogatories, and request for monetary sanctions is GRANTED.

IV. Defendant Azusa Unified School District’s motion to compel further responses to first set of requests for production of documents, and request for monetary sanctions is GRANTED.

Regarding discovery motions I-IV, Plaintiff is ordered to provide further responses without objections within 20 days. Reduced sanctions are imposed against Plaintiff Beaton in the reasonable sum of $2,500.00, payable within 30 days.

V. Defendant Azusa Unified School District’s demurrer to First Amended Complaint is SUSTAINED with 10 days leave to amend.

VI. Plaintiff Beaton’s motion for leave to file second amended complaint is DENIED.

I-IV. Discovery Motions

Defendant Azusa Unified School District moves to compel further responses to discovery pursuant to CCP §§ 2030.300 and 2031.310.

CCP §§ 2030.300 and 2031.310 allow a party to file a motion compelling further answers to interrogatories and document requests if it finds that the response is inadequate, incomplete, or evasive, or an objection in the response is without merit or too general. The motion shall be accompanied with a meet and confer declaration. (CCP §§ 2030.300(b) and 2031.310(b).)

Plaintiff waived objections because she served untimely responses. (CCP § 2030.290(a).) Further, the court finds Plaintiff’s response, “Defendant(s) are already in possession of the information [or the document] pursuant to this request” is evasive and incomplete.

Each answer in a response to interrogatories shall be as complete and straightforward as the information reasonably available to the responding party permits.  (CCP § 2030.220(a).)  If an interrogatory cannot be answered completely, it shall be answered to the extent possible.  (CCP § 2030.220(b).)  If the responding party does not have personal knowledge sufficient to respond fully to an interrogatory, that party shall so state, but shall make a reasonable and good faith effort to obtain the information by inquiry to other natural persons or organizations, except where the information is equally available to the propounding party.  (CCP § 2030.220(c).)  “A representation of inability to comply with the particular demand for inspection shall affirm that a diligent search and a reasonable inquiry has been made in an effort to comply with that demand. This statement shall also specify whether the inability to comply is because the particular item or category has never existed, has been destroyed, has been lost, misplaced, or stolen, or has never been, or is no longer, in the possession, custody, or control of the responding party. The statement shall set forth the name and address of any natural person or organization known or believed by that party to have possession, custody, or control of that item or category of item. (CCP § 2031.230.)

Plaintiff owes a duty to provide complete and straightforward responses.

Plaintiff filed LATE oppositions on 2/28/20. These Oppositions will not be considered because they are untimely, and failed to give opposing party an opportunity to reasonably respond.

Accordingly, the motions are GRANTED. Plaintiff is ordered to provide further responses to discovery without objections within 10 days.

Sanctions: CCP §§ 2030.300(d) and 2031.310(h) authorize the court to impose a sanction against any party/attorney who unsuccessfully makes or opposes a motion to compel further responses, unless it finds that the one subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.

Here, sanctions are appropriate because Plaintiff served evasive and incomplete responses to discovery. The court finds that Defendants’ total request of $4,900.00 is excessive. Instead, reduced sanctions are imposed against Plaintiff Beaton in the reasonable sum of $2,500.00, payable within 30 days.

V. Demurrer

Defendant demurs to all causes of action in the First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) on the grounds that they fail to state facts sufficient to constitute causes of action.

The 44-page FAC, filed on 11/19/19, alleges that Plaintiff Beaton was discriminated against based on her Mexican ethnicity, age, and disabilities. Plaintiff had filed a complaint with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), but that matter settled. Plaintiff alleges the settlement was “illegal.” The FAC asserts causes of action for:

1. Discrimination – Disparate Treatment

2. Discrimination – Disparate Impact

3. Hostile Work Environment

4. Retaliation

5. IIED

New Parties

Following an order sustaining a demurrer, the plaintiff may amend his or her complaint only as authorized by the court's order. (People ex rel. Dept. Pub. Wks. v. Clausen (1967) 248 Cal.App.2d 770, 785 - leave to amend complaint does not constitute leave to amend to add new defendant.) The plaintiff may not amend the complaint to add a new cause of action without having obtained permission to do so. (Harris v. Wachovia Mortg., FSB (2010) 185 Cal.App.4th 1018, 1023; see also Patrick v. Alacer Corp. (2008) 167 Cal.App.4th 995, 1015.)

Plaintiff has added seven new parties to the litigation on the FAC. Leave to plead claims against these new parties was not within the scope of the Court’s Order granting leave to amend. As such, the demurrer is SUSTAINED. The court will hear from Plaintiff regarding whether these new individuals are necessary parties.

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Prior to pursuing civil claims of discrimination/harassment/retaliation in court, a Plaintiff must exhaust her administrative remedies by filing a charge with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) within one year of the alleged unlawful act. (Gov. Code § 12960(d); see Wills v. Superior Court (2011) 195 Cal.App.4th 143, 153 [”Before filing a civil action alleging FEHA violations, an employee must exhaust his or her administrative remedies with [the] DFEH.”].) Exhaustion includes the timely filing of administrative complaints addressing the claims and parties at issue, as well as the procurement of right-to-sue letters. (Romano v. Rockwell Internal., Inc. (1996) 14 Cal.4th 479, 492.) Courts have referred to this requirement as a “‘jurisdictional prerequisite.’” (E.g., Johnson v. City of Loma Linda (2000) 24 Cal.4th 61, 70 [“Exhaustion of administrative remedies is ‘a jurisdictional prerequisite to resort to the courts’”]; Okoli v. Lockheed Technical Operations Co. (1995) 36 Cal.App.4th 1607, 1613 (“in the context of the FEHA, exhaustion of the administrative remedy is a jurisdictional prerequisite to resort to the courts . . .”].) Thereafter, any action against the employer must be filed within one year after the DFEH issues a “right-to-sue” letter. (Gov. Code § 12965(b); see Johnson v. City of Loma Linda (2000) 24 Cal.4th 61, 66.) The one-year period begins to run from the date the notice was mailed. (Hall v. Goodwill Indus. of So. Cal. (2011) 193 Cal.App.4th 718, 725.)

Plaintiff’s FAC are based on events that occurred between 2015 and 2017. Plaintiff indicates that she was provided right to sue notices in or around 2017. (FAC, 22:13.) The instant action, filed on 11/19/19, is untimely because it was filed more than one year after Plaintiff purportedly received her right to sue notices. Further, Plaintiff failed to allege that she properly exhausted her administrative remedies by filing charges with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing within one year of the unlawful acts between 2015-2017.

Plaintiff’s tort claim for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress is barred unless Plaintiff filed a Government Tort Claim within 6 months after the occurrence of the event. (Gov. Code §§ 911.2 and 945.6.) Plaintiff does not allege that she complied with the tort claims requirement.

Accordingly, demurrer is SUSTAINED with 10 days leave to amend.

Res Judicata

“Under the doctrine of res judicata, a valid, final judgment on the merits is a bar to a subsequent action by parties or their privies on the same cause of action. In California, a "cause of action" is defined by the "primary right" theory. The most salient characteristic of a primary right is that it is indivisible: the violation of a single primary right gives rise to but a single cause of action. In particular, the primary right theory provides that a cause of action consists of: (1) a primary right possessed by the plaintiff; (2) a corresponding duty devolving upon the defendant; and (3) a delict or wrong done by the defendant which consists of a breach of the primary right. If the matter was within the scope of the action, related to the subject matter and relevant to the issues, so that it could have been raised, the judgment is conclusive on it despite the fact that it was not in fact expressly pleaded or otherwise urged. The reason for this is manifest. A party cannot by negligence or design withhold issues and litigate them in consecutive actions. Hence the rule is that the prior judgment is res judicata on matters which were raised or could have been raised, on matters litigated or litigable.” (Amin v. Khazindar (2003) 112 Cal.App.4th 582, 589-590.) Claim preclusion bars not only issues that were litigated in the prior action but also issues that could have been litigated. (Planning & Conservation League v. Castaic Lake Water Agency (2009) 180 Cal.App.4th 210, 226.)

Plaintiff concedes that she settled her PERB complaint by signing a settlement agreement on 4/23/19. (RJN, Ex. 6; FAC, 18:8-9.) Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Plaintiff has waived all known and unknown claims. (RJN, Ex. 4.) Therefore, the claims have been resolved and are barred.

Demurrer is SUSTAINED with 10 days leave to amend.

Punitive Damages

Plaintiffs may not recover punitive damages from public entities, even for bad faith constitutional violations. (City of Newport v. Fact Concerts, Inc. (1981) 453 U.S. 247, 271; see also Gov. Code § 818 - “public entity is not liable for damages awarded under Section 3294 of the Civil Code or other damages imposed primarily for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant”.)

Plaintiff is ordered to strike any request for punitive damages against the District.

VI. Leave to amend

Plaintiff seeks leave to amend her FAC, but the court is not in receipt of the motion. The court staff contacted Plaintiff to request a copy of the motion, but Plaintiff refused to provide a copy to the court. Therefore, the motion is DENIED because it is unclear what Plaintiff seeks to amend.

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