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LCW Partner Morin Jacob, And Associates Will Ambramovitz, Jessica Tam, And Brian Hawkinson Win Dismissal Of AG Commissioner’s Lawsuit
A County Board of Supervisors (BOS) appointed an Agricultural Commissioner (AC). A little more than one year later, the BOS terminated the AC due to poor performance and mismanagement of his department.
The AC sued the County, every member of the BOS, and five of his former subordinates. The AG’s lawsuit alleged: termination in violation of California laws in the Food & Agriculture and Business & Professions Code; discrimination on the basis of national origin and religion; subordinate harassment because of his race and religion; retaliation for complaining to senior staff about his subordinates; and failure to prevent his harassment.
The LCW team strategically disposed of this lawsuit piece by piece. First, LCW filed a series of demurrers and motions for judgment on the pleadings, with the following results: dismissal of his California law claims for failure to state a cause of action; and judgment in favor of all members of the BOS and all five subordinates because the AG failed to adequately exhaust his administrative remedies.
Second, LCW filed a successful motion for summary judgment, in which the County argued: the BOS had legitimate, non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reasons for terminating the AC; the County had no knowledge of the AG’s national origin, religion or protected activity at the time of his termination; the harassment claims failed because both the AC failed to adequately exhaust his administrative remedies, and the County had no knowledge that any non-supervisory employees harassed the AC.
The Court granted summary judgment and dismissed the lawsuit, which allowed the County to avoid a costly trial in late January 2024.