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Hurrle v. Snake River Restaurants, LLC

United States District Court, D. Idaho

August 29, 2017

ASHLEY HURRLE a/k/a ASHLEY ADAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
SNAKE RIVER RESTAURANTS, LLC, a/k/a TACO BELL, THE ESTATE OF D.J. SOUTHWICK, and John Does I-IV, Defendants

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          B. Lynn Winmill, Chief Judge United States District Court

         INTRODUCTION

         The Court has before it six motions: (1) Taco Bell's motion for summary judgment and 4 motions to strike affidavits, and (2) Plaintiff Adams' motion to amend her complaint to add a claim of punitive damages. The Court heard oral argument on the motions on August 2, 2017, and took them under advisement. For the reasons explained below, the Court will dismiss the federal claims and exercise its discretionary authority to dismiss the state claims without prejudice to their being filed in state court.[1]

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Adams began working at the Taco Bell located on Hitt Road in Idaho Falls in 2012. In 2013, when Adams was 17 years old, her shift supervisor was Daniel Southwick. Adams alleges that beginning in July of 2013, Southwick subjected her to sexual harassment, including requests for oral sex, inappropriate touching, and lewd comments.

         Adams did not report the harassment as it was occurring, and it was not until another employee reported it in July of 2014, that Taco Bell was notified that it had occurred. Taco Bell immediately began an investigation conducted by its Director of Operations Bill Mandler. Within four days of starting the investigation, Taco Bell fired Southwick and turned the evidence over to the police. Shortly thereafter, criminal charges were filed against Southwick, and he committed suicide in September of 2014. A month later, in October of 2014, Adams left Taco Bell.

         In this lawsuit, Adams has alleged claims against Taco Bell under Title VII for discrimination and retaliation. She also alleges state law claims for negligent supervision and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Taco Bell responded by filing a motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of all claims, and a motion to strike four affidavits filed by Adams.

         ANALYSIS

         Title VII Claims - 90 day Rule

          Before filing this lawsuit, Adams filed a claim with the Idaho Human Rights Commission (IHRC). The IHRC denied her claim on February 26, 2016. See IHRC Decision (Dkt. No. 34-5). At the conclusion of that decision, in a section entitled “Notice of Right to Sue, ” the IHRC notified Adams that “[a] private action under the Human Rights Act must be filed in court within 90 days of the date of issuance of this notice of administrative dismissal. Failure to comply with this timeline may cause Complainant to lose the right to go to court.” See IHRC Decision (Dkt. No. 34-5).

         Adams filed her complaint in this action on June 2, 2016, which is 96 days after the IHRC issued its decision. Adams has not alleged any claims under Idaho's Human Rights Act, but she did allege claims under its federal counterpart, Title VII. While a plaintiff must typically obtain a right-to-sue letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before bringing a Title VII claim in federal court, a plaintiff may rely on a right-to-sue letter from a state counterpart like the IHRC. Stiefel v. Bechtel Corp., 624 F.3d 1240, 1244-45 (9th Cir. 2010). Whether suing on the basis of a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC or a state counterpart, the plaintiff must file suit within 90 days from receipt of the right-to-sue letter. Id. see also Clink v. Oregon Health & Science University, 9 F.Supp.3d 1162. 1164-65 (D. Ore. 2014).

         In this case Adams waited 96 days from the date of the issuance of the right-to-sue letter to file this action. In response to Taco Bell's argument that her filing was untimely under the 90-day rule, Adams did not argue in her briefing or at oral argument that her filing was timely given the date she received the IHRC decision. She also did not present any explanation for the late filing. The Court will therefore dismiss the Title VII claims based on discrimination and retaliation.

         State Law Claims

         As a result of the ruling above, only state law claims remain in this case. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3), a district court may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a state law claim if “the district court has dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3); see also Acri v. Varian Assocs., Inc., 114 F.3d 999, 1000 (9th Cir.1997) (“[A] federal district court with power to hear state law claims has discretion to keep, or decline to keep, them under the conditions set out in § 1367(c).”). Factors for a court to consider in deciding whether to ...


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