La Manna v. City of Cornelius

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 01-27-2016
  • Case #: A149972
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Armstrong, P.J.; Egan, J.; and Nakamoto, J. pro tempore, for the Court.
  • Full Text Opinion

A trial court errs in granting summary judgment to a party when another party has raised genuine issues of material fact regarding the claims in question.

Plantiff is a gay man who was friends with Rubenstein, the City of Cornelius’s chief of police. Plaintiff told Rubenstein he is gay; Rubenstein testified he told no one. Plaintiff campaigned to be Clackamas County Sheriff in 2008, during which his sexual orientation was discussed.

When Plaintiff was fifty years old, he applied to be a police officer for the City. One of the interviewing officers made comments about plaintiff’s age. After the interview, Plaintiff originally got a call to complete testing, but the city manager, Waffle, found out about Plaintiff and Rubenstein’s friendship and wanted to deny Plaintiff the job. Waffle testified that he believed the hiring of Plaintiff would create an impression of favoritism. Rubenstein eventually advised Plaintiff to withdraw his application, and Plaintiff did so. Friends of Rubenstein had been hired before, but both were heterosexual and younger than Plaintiff.

Plantiff sued City for state and federal age discrimination; state sexual orientation discrimination; and three claims under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging violation of his right to freedom of association under the First Amendment and rights to due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. The trial court granted summary judgment to City on all claims. Plaintiff appealed, arguing he raised a genuine issue of material fact on his discrimination claims.

The Oregon Court of Appeals held that Plaintiff raised genuine issues of material fact regarding the discrimination, First Amendment, and equal protection claims. Plaintiff had showed that there was an inference that he was required to withdraw his application because of his age, his sexual orientation and his friendship with Rubenstein. The court held that the trial court erred by granting summary judgment to the City on these claims. Judgment on due process claim affirmed; otherwise reversed and remanded.

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