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Ross v. County of Riverside

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

June 20, 2019, Opinion Filed



 [**698]  McCONNELL, P. J.


Christopher Ross appeals from a summary judgment granted in favor of the County of Riverside (County) on Ross's claims for violation of Labor Code section 1102.5 and for violation of the provisions in the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (Gov. Code, § 12900 et seq.; FEHA) prohibiting disability discrimination, failure to reasonably accommodate, failure to engage in the interactive process, and failure to prevent disability discrimination.1 Because we conclude there are triable issues of material fact on the questions of whether Ross engaged in protected activity under Labor Code section 1102.5 and whether Ross had a physical disability under the FEHA, we reverse the judgment as to these claims and remand the matter for further proceedings consistent with this [***2]  decision.



Ross worked for the County as a deputy district attorney. He was assigned  [**699]  to the homicide prosecution unit and was “responsible for however many cases were assigned to [him] by [his] supervisor.” In addition to trying the cases, his duties included filing complaints and informations; conducting preliminary hearings; appearing at trial readiness conferences, settlement conferences, and motion hearings; and preparing for trial, including turning over discovery, interviewing witnesses, and conducting further investigation. Among the cases assigned to him were death penalty cases, which were considered the most difficult cases in the office.

In July or August 2011, an assistant district attorney assigned him a case initially handled by another attorney. The attorney told the assistant district attorney she believed the defendant was innocent. Although the defendant had admitted committing the crime, the attorney believed the defendant's confession was coerced.

In late November 2011, the attorney provided Ross with a memorandum in which she recommended dismissing the case because the defendant was innocent. She previously recommended dismissing the case more than a year [***3]  earlier during a meeting about the case because she believed the case lacked inculpatory evidence. However, the district attorney and assistant district attorney took no action at the time.

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36 Cal. App. 5th 580 *; 248 Cal. Rptr. 3d 696 **; 2019 Cal. App. LEXIS 565 ***; 2019 WL 2537342

CHRISTOPHER ROSS, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. COUNTY OF RIVERSIDE, Defendant and Respondent.


Subsequent History: Rehearing granted by Ross v. County of Riverside, 2019 Cal. App. LEXIS 617 (Cal. App. 4th Dist., June 20, 2019)

Later proceeding at Ross v. County of Riverside, 2019 Cal. LEXIS 5884 (Cal., July 30, 2019)

Request denied by Ross v. County of Rjverside, 2019 Cal. LEXIS 7296 (Cal., Sept. 25, 2019)

Prior History:  [***1] APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Riverside County, No. PSC1403729, David M. Chapman, Judge.

Ross v. County of Riverside, 36 Cal. App. 5th 25, 247 Cal.Rptr.3d 894 (May 20, 2019)

Disposition: Reversed and remanded for further proceedings.


disability, accommodation, stress, interactive, Homicide, clinic, out-of-state, appointment, impairment, recommended, neurological, triable, handle, fitness-for-duty, reassignment, retaliating, undergoing, phone

Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Evidentiary Considerations, Absence of Essential Element, Burdens of Proof, Movant Persuasion & Proof, Judgments, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Appeals, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review, Labor & Employment Law, Discrimination, Retaliation, Burdens of Proof, Elements, Business & Corporate Compliance, Whistleblower Protection Act, Scope & Definitions, Protected Activities, Statutory Application, Whistleblower Protection Act, Disability Discrimination, Discriminatory Conduct, Reasonable Accommodations, Disabilities Under ADA, Mental & Physical Impairments, Mental & Physical Impairments, Major Life Activities, Substantial Limitations, Judges, Inability to Proceed, Disqualification & Recusal, Writs, Common Law Writs, Mandamus