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Niblett v. Cty. of Los Angeles

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

July 27, 2018, Opinion Filed

B270460

Opinion

Plaintiff and appellant Neill Niblett (Niblett) sued defendant and respondent County of Los Angeles (the County) for retaliation. The allegations arise out of his employment as a mechanic for the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACFD). The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the County, and Niblett appeals, arguing that his evidence raised triable issues of material fact. We conclude that Niblett failed to demonstrate a disputed issue of material fact in support of a prima facie case of retaliation based on the only theory pleaded in his complaint—his transfer to the East Los Angeles mechanics shop was in retaliation for his testifying in a fellow employee's employment case against the County. He similarly failed to show a disputed issue of material fact that the County's asserted reason for the transfer—the inability of Niblett and another [*2]  employee at the Lancaster mechanic's shop to get along—was pretextual. Accordingly, we affirm.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

A. Complaint

Niblett resides in the Antelope Valley. On June 4, 2014, Niblett filed a complaint alleging a single cause of action for retaliation under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Government Code section 12940, et seq.

Niblett alleged that he was hired by LACFD in 2006. According to Niblett, he testified in a lawsuit brought by a colleague, Donald Rakisits, against the LACFD. He further asserted that because of his testimony, the County retaliated by "transfer[ing] Plaintiff's work location from the Antelope Valley to some seventy-plus miles away." Niblett alleged that he faced the same retaliation as Rakisits, but provided no factual allegations to support this conclusory allegation.2 Niblett sought "an order returning his work station to the Antelope Valley."

As set forth above, Niblett claims that "he was transferred to East Los Angeles on April 5, 2013 because of his involvement in the Rakisits lawsuit." The transfer order stated: "This is to advise you that effective Monday, April 8, 2013, you have been reassigned from the North County Fire Shops to the Eastern Fire shops in your regularly assigned position [*3]  as a Fire Equipment Mechanic. . . . It should be noted that this reassignment will remain in effect until further notice."

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2018 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 5145 *; 2018 WL 3599256

NEILL NIBLETT, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, Defendant and Respondent.

Notice: NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS. CALIFORNIA RULES OF COURT, RULE 8.1115(a), PROHIBITS COURTS AND PARTIES FROM CITING OR RELYING ON OPINIONS NOT CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION OR ORDERED PUBLISHED, EXCEPT AS SPECIFIED BY RULE 8.1115(b). THIS OPINION HAS NOT BEEN CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION OR ORDERED PUBLISHED FOR THE PURPOSES OF RULE 8.1115.

Prior History:  [*1] APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. BC547643, Teresa Sanchez-Gordon, Judge.

Disposition: Affirmed.

CORE TERMS

retaliation, undisputed, facie, causal, shop, lawsuit, retaliatory, freeway, therapy, cards, grievance, triable, discriminatory, reassignment, proximity, yelling