United States District Court, D. Nevada
MIRANDA M. DU UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a Title VII retaliation case brought by a pro se
plaintiff. The Court previously construed Plaintiff Guangyu
Wang's First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) as
advancing five independent claims for retaliation and granted
summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff on the first two of
those claims. (ECF No. 50 at 1, 3.) The parties now have
filed cross-motions for summary judgment as to the following
issues: (1) damages in connection with the first two claims
(ECF Nos. 52, 78); (2) liability in connection with the third
claim (ECF Nos. 53, 56); and (3) liability in connection with
the fourth claim (ECF Nos. 61, 68). The Court has reviewed
those motions as well as the parties' responses (ECF Nos.
54, 55, 59, 67, 72, 81) and replies (ECF Nos. 57, 58, 60, 70,
73, 84). For the following reasons, the Court
grants summary judgment in favor of Defendant Nevada System
of Higher Education as to each issue raised.
following facts are undisputed unless otherwise indicated.
began working as a “Research Assistant Professor”
at the University of Nevada Reno School of Medicine
(“UNR Med”) on October 1, 2010. (ECF No. 53 at
3.) Plaintiffs position was funded with a grant
(“Grant”) from the American Heart Association
(“AHA”). (Id. at 3; ECF No. 21 at 48-53
(Ex. 10, Ex. 11).) Plaintiff received notice on June 15,
2012, that his employment would terminate 180 days later.
(ECF No. 53 at 3; ECF No. 21 at 159 (Ex. 39).) Plaintiff was
discharged on December 12, 2012. (ECF No. 21 at 161 (Ex.
40).) Plaintiff filed charges of discrimination with the
Nevada Equal Rights Commission (“NERC”) and the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)
as well as a lawsuit. (ECF No. 53 at 3; ECF No. 55 at 4.) The
charges and the lawsuit were settled around April 11, 2013.
(ECF No. 55 at 4; ECF No. 21 at 13-23 (Ex. A, Ex. B).)
alleges that despite the settlement, Plaintiffs former
supervisor-a non-party named Iain Buxton who heads up UNR
Med-intentionally retaliated against Plaintiff for filing the
charges of employment discrimination and the lawsuit in a
number of ways: (1) by making disparaging comments about
Plaintiff and unfavorable references to the fiscal official
at UNR Med (Charlene Hart) and the hiring official at UC
Davis (Peter Cala); (2) by disclosing Plaintiffs previous
lawsuit against Defendant as a negative reference to the
hiring official at UC Davis; (3) by depriving Plaintiff of
funding from the Grant; (4) by refusing to transfer
Plaintiffs lab chemical and biological products and supplies
(“Lab Supplies”) from UNR to UC Davis and by
discarding them without Plaintiffs consent; and (5) by
threatening Plaintiff and damaging his good reputation when
he was prohibited from accessing the UNR campus. (ECF No. 21
purpose of summary judgment is to avoid unnecessary trials
when there is no dispute as to the facts before the
court.” Nw. Motorcycle Ass'n v. U.S. Dep't
of Agric, 18 F.3d 1468, 1471 (9th Cir. 1994). Summary
judgment is appropriate when the pleadings, the discovery and
disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits “show
there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986).
An issue is “genuine” if there is a sufficient
evidentiary basis on which a reasonable fact-finder could
find for the nonmoving party and a dispute is
“material” if it could affect the outcome of the
suit under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986). Where reasonable
minds could differ on the material facts at issue, however,
summary judgment is not appropriate. See Id. at
250-51. “The amount of evidence necessary to raise a
genuine issue of material fact is enough ‘to require a
jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions
of the truth at trial.'” Aydin Corp. v. Loral
Corp., 718 F.2d 897, 902 (9th Cir. 1983) (quoting
First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253,
288-89 (1968)). In evaluating a summary judgment motion, a
court views all facts and draws all inferences in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party. Kaiser Cement
Corp. v. Fishbach & Moore, Inc., 793 F.2d 1100, 1103
(9th Cir. 1986).
moving party bears the burden of showing that there are no
genuine issues of material fact. Zoslaw v. MCA Distrib.
Corp., 693 F.2d 870, 883 (9th Cir. 1982). Once the
moving party satisfies Rule 56's requirements, the burden
shifts to the party resisting the motion to “set forth
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256. The
nonmoving party “may not rely on denials in the
pleadings but must produce specific evidence, through
affidavits or admissible discovery material, to show that the
dispute exists, ” Bhan v. NME Hosps., Inc.,
929 F.2d 1404, 1409 (9th Cir. 1991), and “must do more
than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to
the material facts.” Orr v. Bank of Am., 285
F.3d 764, 783 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
586 (1986)). “The mere existence of a scintilla of
evidence in support of the plaintiff's position will be
insufficient.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.
“when parties submit cross-motions for summary
judgment, ‘[e]ach motion must be considered on its own
merits.'” Fair Hous. Council of Riverside Cty.,
Inc. v. Riverside Two, 249 F.3d 1132, 1136 (9th Cir.
2001) (citations omitted) (quoting William W. Schwarzer,
et al., The Analysis and Decision of Summary
Judgment Motions, 139 F.R.D. 441, 499 (Feb. 1992)). “In
fulfilling its duty to review each cross-motion separately,
the court must review the evidence submitted in support of
each cross-motion.” Id.
CROSS-MOTIONS REGARDING DAMAGES FOR FIRST AND SECOND CLAIMS
(ECF NOS. 52, 78)
Court previously granted summary judgment in favor of
Plaintiff on his first and second claims for retaliation.
(ECF No. 50 at 13.) Both claims are functionally identical
and essentially allege that Plaintiffs supervisor at UNR
Med-Iain Buxton-told the hiring official at UC Davis-Peter
Cala-about Plaintiffs lawsuit against UNR Med to prevent UC
Davis from hiring Plaintiff. (ECF No. 21 at 7; ECF No. 50 at
10, 13.) Plaintiff now asserts that he is entitled to several
different kinds of relief related to those claims, including
reinstatement, backpay, compensatory damages, and pain and
suffering damages. (ECF No. 52 at 2-3.)
generally contends that Plaintiff cannot demonstrate any
causal relationship between damages he has suffered and the
Buxton-Cala conversation. (ECF No. 78 at 6.) Plaintiff
counters that the Buxton-Cala conversation caused his start
date at UC Davis to be postponed from June 1, 2013 to October
1, 2013 (ECF No. 81 at 8); caused Cala and Plaintiffs
supervisor at UC Davis-Jie Zheng-to refrain from renewing his
appointment at UC Davis (id. at 9); caused a
negative workplace atmosphere to develop at UC Davis
(id. at 18); and caused harm to Plaintiffs good
reputation (id. at 25). The Court ...