Case: United States v. City of Torrance

2:93-cv-04142 | U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

Filed Date: July 14, 1993

Closed Date: Sept. 20, 2000

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On July 14th, 1993, the United States Department of Justice ("DOJ") filed an employment discrimination lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against the City of Torrance. We don't have the complaint, but the lawsuit seems to have alleged discrimination under three different theories: disparate treatment (apparently relating to background checks); disparate impact (claiming that Torrance used employment tests that had the effect of discriminating against blac…

On July 14th, 1993, the United States Department of Justice ("DOJ") filed an employment discrimination lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against the City of Torrance. We don't have the complaint, but the lawsuit seems to have alleged discrimination under three different theories: disparate treatment (apparently relating to background checks); disparate impact (claiming that Torrance used employment tests that had the effect of discriminating against blacks, Hispanics, and Asians seeking to become police officers and firefighters) and hostile working environment.

After numerous discovery disputes, see 163 F.R.D. 590, (Jul. 25, 1995); 164 F.R.D. 493 (Jul. 25, 1995), Torrance moved to dismiss at least the disparate impact claim (and possibly the suit--it's difficult to tell without more documentation) on the grounds that the United States had failed to demonstrate a prima facie case--that is, that it failed to show disparate impact. The district court denied the motion, explaining that since the case "was not a jury trial," it "thought it advisable to hear all of the evidence before resolving a matter involving such serious allegations." The case proceeded to trial. It seems that some small portion of the matter may have settled, but on December 9th, 1996, the Court (Judge Mariana R. Pfaelzer) issued a judgment for the defendant on the remainder, which included at least the disparate impact claim, and imposed costs against the United States.

On February 6th, 1997, DOJ filed a Notice of Appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. On May 20th, 1998, the judgment of the District Court was affirmed in an unpublished opinion. On September 4th, 1998, the District Court (Judge Mariana R. Pfaelzer) issued Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, which sanctioned the DOJ and directed it to pay Torrance's attorneys' fees plus interest.

The district court determined that the attorneys fee sanction was appropriate because the Government had an insufficient factual basis for bringing the adverse impact claim" and "that the Government continued to pursue the claim ... long after it became apparent that the case lacked merit." As described by the Court of Appeals, when it affirmed the order,

For example, the district court found that the United States 'approved' one of the challenged police-officer examinations for use 'in other municipalities in Southern California.' It also found that the United States took 'substantial discovery' on, and challenged up until trial, seven examination for which it 'offered no evidence' of adverse impact at all. The district court further determined that the United States 'fall[ed] to provide meaningful discovery regarding its allegations or the bases of those allegations' and '[t]his unnecessarily and substantially increased the cost of defending the action.' Finally, the court found that 'the United States ... offered no alternative selection device that would equally serve Torrance's legitimate hiring objectives' while repeatedly assuring the district court it would do so.
The DOJ objected, and the district court stayed the judgment. DOJ appealed to the 9th Circuit on October 21st, 1998; the Court of Appeals affirmed in July 2000. On September 20th, 2000, the District Court (Judge Mariana R. Pfaelzer) issued a Notice of Satisfaction of Judgment and Order, saying that the plaintiff has fully and finally satisfied said judgment by payment of the full amount to defendants plus interest, and dismissing the case with prejudice.

Summary Authors

Jennifer Hau (11/27/2007)

People


Judge(s)

Chapman, Rosalyn M. (California)

Fernandez, Ferdinand Francis (California)

Pfaelzer, Mariana R. (California)

Wardlaw, Kim McLane (California)

Weiner, Charles R. (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Adelstein, Jay (District of Columbia)

Annexstein, Leslie T. (New York)

Bowers, Terree (California)

Cader, M. Yasmin (California)

Chandler, Thomas E. (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Chapman, Rosalyn M. (California)

Fernandez, Ferdinand Francis (California)

Pfaelzer, Mariana R. (California)

Wardlaw, Kim McLane (California)

Weiner, Charles R. (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Adelstein, Jay (District of Columbia)

Annexstein, Leslie T. (New York)

Bowers, Terree (California)

Cader, M. Yasmin (California)

Chandler, Thomas E. (District of Columbia)

Chen, Edward Milton (California)

Chun, Marisa A (California)

Dimsey, Dennis J. (District of Columbia)

Eisenstein, Miriam R. (District of Columbia)

Eure, Philip K (District of Columbia)

Fenton, William B. (District of Columbia)

Ford, Donna J. (California)

Hack, Elizabeth (District of Columbia)

Lee, Bill Lann (District of Columbia)

Turner, James P. (District of Columbia)

Weidman, Leon W. (California)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Bottger, William C (California)

Connelly, Blair G (California)

Eschen, Lisa Von (California)

Fellows, John L. (California)

Flick, Wayne S. (California)

Keroes, Amy Nicole (California)

Pfister, Thomas L. (California)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket (PACER)

Sept. 22, 2000 Docket
356

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

221 F.3d 1349

July 14, 2000 Order/Opinion
358

Notice of Satisfaction of Judgment by Plaintiff United States and Order of Dismissal with Prejudice

Sept. 20, 2000 Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: California

Case Type(s):

Equal Employment

Key Dates

Filing Date: July 14, 1993

Closing Date: Sept. 20, 2000

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

United States, on behalf of black, Hispanic, and Asian applicants for firefighter and police positions in Torrance, California

Plaintiff Type(s):

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

City of Torrance (Torrance, Los Angeles), City

Defendant Type(s):

Fire

Law-enforcement

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e

Constitutional Clause(s):

Equal Protection

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Non-settlement Outcome

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Issues

General:

Disparate Impact

Disparate Treatment

Discrimination-area:

Harassment / Hostile Work Environment

Hiring

Testing

Discrimination-basis:

National origin discrimination

Race discrimination

Race:

Asian/Pacific Islander

Black

National Origin/Ethnicity:

Hispanic