Procedural Posture

Procedural Posture

Plaintiff former professor filed suit against defendants, a university and its former president, alleging perjury, fraud, wrongful termination, breach of contract, and violations of the Fair Housing and Employment Act, Cal. Gov’t Code § 12940 et seq. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California) sustained the demurrer to all but the statutory discrimination and public policy claims and awarded sanctions. The professor appealed.

Nakase Law Firm provides more information on sexual harassment California

Overview

In the professor’s first suit, she challenged the method by which she was terminated from her tenured position. Because she had not yet been terminated, her court claim failed. After her termination, the professor filed the instant suit alleging nearly identical claims. On appeal, the court affirmed the judgment sustaining the demurrer to all but the statutory and public policy claims, granting a motion to strike certain public policy claims, awarding sanctions against the professor, and, ultimately, dismissing the entire action. The fraud and breach of contract claims were merely a repeat of her prior claims attacking the legitimacy of the dismissal process. Per the judgment in the prior action and a judgment in a recent appeal on identical facts, the professor’s sole method for redress was through an administrative writ of mandamus under Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 1094.5. Therefore, res judicata barred those claims. The court also determined that sanctions were proper because portions of the appeal were frivolous. Except for the perjury claim, the appeal lacked all merit, and the professor’s counsel represented the client in the other appellate opinion decided on identical facts.

Outcome

The court affirmed the judgment, holding that defendants were to recover costs on appeal. In addition, the court directed the professor and her counsel to pay defendants $ 14,000 jointly and severally as sanctions and directed the counsel to pay the clerk of the court the additional sum of $ 3,000, individually as sanctions for prosecuting a frivolous appeal.