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Light v. Department of Parks & Recreation

Court of Appeal of California, Fourth Appellate District, Division One

August 8, 2017, Opinion Filed

Civil No. D070361


 [**673]  McCONNELL, P. J.—Plaintiff Melony Light appeals judgments in favor of her employer, defendant Department of Parks and Recreation (Department), and her former supervisors, defendants Leda Seals and Kathy Dolinar, following orders granting defendants' motions for summary judgment. Light contends the trial court erred by summarily adjudicating her claims against the Department for retaliation, disability discrimination, and failure to prevent retaliation [****2]  and discrimination, all in violation of the California  [*81] Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA; Gov. Code, § 12900 et seq.).2  [**674]  She also contends the trial court erred by summarily adjudicating her claims against Seals for intentional infliction of emotional distress and assault and summarily adjudicating her claim against Dolinar for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The court also summarily adjudicated an additional claim against Seals, for false imprisonment, but Light does not challenge that ruling in this appeal.

As to the Department, we conclude triable issues of material fact preclude summary adjudication of Light's retaliation claim, but not her disability discrimination claim. Light's claim against the Department for failure to prevent retaliation or discrimination therefore survives based on Light's retaliation claim. As to Seals and Dolinar, we conclude contrary to the trial court that workers' compensation exclusivity does not bar Light's claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress under the circumstances here. However, as to the merits of that claim, we conclude Light has raised a triable issue of fact only as to Seals, not Dolinar. We further conclude Light has raised triable issues of fact [****3]  on her assault claim against Seals. We will therefore affirm in part and reverse in part the judgments in favor of the Department and Seals, and we will affirm in full the judgment in favor of Dolinar. Because our discussion of the interplay between workers‘ compensation exclusivity and intentional infliction of emotional distress addresses an important legal issue, and our interpretation differs from a recent opinion by our colleagues in Division Three of this court, we will publish that discussion, as well as our discussion of the FEHA retaliation claim on which it relies. Because our discussions of Light's FEHA disability discrimination and assault claims raise no similar issues, they remain unpublished.


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14 Cal. App. 5th 75 *; 221 Cal. Rptr. 3d 668 **; 82 Cal. Comp. Cases 987 ***; 2017 Cal. App. LEXIS 688 ****; 2017 WL 3393079

MELONY LIGHT, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION et al., Defendants and Respondents.


Subsequent History: Related proceeding at Hurley v. Cal. Dep't of Parks & Rec., 20 Cal.App.5th 634, 229 Cal.Rptr.3d 219, 83 Cal. Comp. Cases 631, 2018 Cal. App. LEXIS 135 (Cal. App. 4th Dist., Feb. 21, 2018)

Prior History:  [****1] San Diego County Superior Court No. 37-2013-00069437-CU-OE-CTL—Hon. Richard E. Strauss, Judge

Disposition: Appeal from judgments of the Superior Court of San Diego County. Judgments affirmed in part, reversed in part, and plaintiff to recover costs on appeal.


retaliation, emotional, distress, infliction, triable, retaliatory, disability, interview, harassment, seasonal, assault, bargain, trier, talk, out-of-class, outrageous, workplace, nonretaliatory, training, sexual, accommodation, imprisonment, summarily, pretext, facie, door, classification, discriminatory, whistleblower, visitor

Evidence, Judicial Notice, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Appropriateness, Burdens of Proof, Movant Persuasion & Proof, Nonmovant Persuasion & Proof, Labor & Employment Law, Discrimination, Retaliation, Burdens of Proof, Elements, Elements, Adverse Employment Actions, Governments, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Causation, Workers' Compensation & SSDI, Defenses, Exclusivity Provisions, Actionable Discrimination, Torts, Intentional Torts, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Retaliation, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress