United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN
SERVICES, STATE OF HAWAII'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL JUDGMENT
ON THE PLEADINGS
OKI MOLLWAY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Christopher Campbell has asserted employment discrimination,
hostile work environment, and whistleblower claims against
Defendant Department of Human Services, State of Hawaii
(“DHS”), and unnamed Doe/Roe defendants. DHS
moves for partial judgment on the pleadings, arguing that it
has Eleventh Amendment immunity with respect to all state law
claims and that the whistleblower claim, brought under state
law, and the hostile work environment claim, to the extent
based on a violation of state law, should therefore be
dismissed with prejudice. Determining that the Eleventh Amendment
bars Campbell's state law claims against DHS, this court
grants DHS's motion and dismisses the state law claims
was employed by DHS as a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist
in Hilo, Hawaii, starting in June 2008. See ECF No.
1, PageID # 4. In the Complaint in the present case, filed on
March 29, 2017, Campbell alleges that, while employed by DHS,
he was subjected to “a discriminatory, hostile work
environment” based on being African-American.
Id. at 5. He alleges that he was denied promotions,
yelled at and mocked by his supervisor, falsely accused of
several acts such as stealing from co-workers and threatening
his supervisor, and treated differently from co-workers who
were not African-American. See Id. at 5-10. Campbell
also alleges that DHS did not thoroughly investigate his
complaints of racial discrimination and did not discipline
co-workers who used racial slurs and other offensive
language. See Id. at 8-10. He alleges that, when he
reported this discriminatory treatment to his Hawaii State
Senator and the Hawaii State Ethics Commission, DHS
retaliated against Campbell and suspended him without pay for
pretextual reasons. See Id. at 10-14.
asserts three claims against DHS: (1) racial discrimination
in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e-2000e-17; (2) a hostile work environment;
and (3) retaliation against him as a whistleblower, in
violation of Chapter 378 of Hawaii Revised Statutes. See
Id. at 15-21. Campbell does not specify whether the
hostile work environment claim is brought under Title VII or
state law; the court assumes for purposes of this order that
Campbell is proceeding under both. He seeks “general
and special damages, including but not limited to
reinstatement, an award of back pay, fringe benefits, senior
and overtime and front pay, ” as well as compensatory
damages, costs and attorney's fees, and pre- and
post-judgment interest. Id. at 21.
moves for partial judgment on the pleadings. ECF Nos. 17, 67.
Trial is currently set for July 9, 2019. See ECF No.
STANDARD OF REVIEW.
12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states,
“After the pleadings are closed--but early enough not
to delay trial--a party may move for judgment on the
pleadings.” The standard governing a Rule 12(c) motion
for judgment on the pleadings is “functionally
identical” to that governing a motion to dismiss under
Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
United States ex rel. Caffaso v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys.,
Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1054 n.4 (9th Cir. 2011);
accord Pit River Tribe v. Bureau of Land Mgmt., 793
F.3d 1147, 1155 (9th Cir. 2015) (“Analysis under Rule
12(c) is ‘substantially identical' to analysis
under Rule 12(b)(6) because, under both rules, a court must
determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint, taken
as true, entitle the plaintiff to a legal remedy.”).
Rule 12(c) motion, the allegations of the nonmoving party are
accepted as true, while the allegations of the moving party
that have been denied are assumed to be false. See Hal
Roach Studios v. Richard Feiner & Co., Inc., 896
F.2d 1542, 1550 (9th Cir. 1989). A court evaluating a Rule
12(c) motion must construe factual allegations in a complaint
in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Fleming v. Pickard, 581 F.3d 922, 925 (9th Cir.
2009). “Judgment on the pleadings is properly granted
when, accepting all factual allegations as true, there is no
material fact in dispute, and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Chavez v. United
States, 683 F.3d 1102, 1108 (9th Cir. 2012) (quotation
marks and citation omitted); accord Jensen Family Farms,
Inc. v. Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control
Dist., 644 F.3d 934, 937 n.1 (9th Cir. 2011).
when matters outside the pleadings are considered, a motion
for judgment on the pleadings must be considered as one for
summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d). However, when
adjudicating a Rule 12(c) motion, a court may consider
matters subject to judicial notice without converting the
motion to one for summary judgment. See Heliotrope Gen.,
Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 189 F.3d 971, 981 n.18 (9th Cir.
1999) (“When considering a motion for judgment on the
pleadings, this court may consider facts that are contained
in materials of which the court may take judicial
notice.” (quotation marks omitted)).
Under the Eleventh Amendment, DHS Is Immune from Suit for
Monetary Damages and Other Retrospective Relief Unless an
motion for partial judgment on the pleadings, DHS argues that
the Eleventh Amendment bars Campbell's state law claims.
See ECF No. 67-3, PageID #s 291-92. The Eleventh
Amendment provides that “[t]he Judicial power of the
United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in
law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the
United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or
Subjects of any Foreign State.” U.S. Const. amend. XI.
Under the Eleventh Amendment, a state is immune from lawsuits
for monetary damages or other retrospective relief brought in
federal court by its own citizens or citizens of other
states. Frew ex rel. Frew v. Hawkins, 540 U.S. 431,
437 (2004); Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 276
(1986); Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v.
Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100, 105-06 (1984). Federal
court actions against agencies or instrumentalities of a
state are also barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Sato v.
Orange Cty. Dep't of Educ., 861 F.3d 923, 928 (9th
Cir. 2017); Blount v. Sacramento Cty. Superior
Court, 559 Fed.Appx. 623, 623 (9th Cir. 2014). Eleventh