University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name United States v. City of Torrance EE-CA-0286
Docket / Court 2:93-cv-04142 ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
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 ... read more >
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 On May 20th, 1998, the judgment of the District Court was affirmed in an unpublished opinion.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.

Jennifer Hau - 11/27/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Fire
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-area
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Hiring
Testing
Discrimination-basis
National origin discrimination
Race discrimination
General
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
National Origin/Ethnicity
Hispanic
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Race
Asian/Pacific Islander
Black
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e
Defendant(s) City of Torrance
Plaintiff Description United States, on behalf of black, Hispanic, and Asian applicants for firefighter and police positions in Torrance, California
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2000
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Megacases, Diversity, and the Elusive Goal of Workplace Reform
Written: Mar. 01, 2008
By: Nancy Levit (University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law)
Citation: 49 B.C. L. Rev. 367 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Second Generation Employment Discrimination: A Structural Approach
By: Susan Sturm (Columbia Law School)
Citation: 101 Colum. L. Rev. 458 (2001)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:93-cv-04142-MRP-RC (C.D. Cal.) 09/22/2000
EE-CA-0286-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California 07/14/2000 (221 F.3d 1349)
EE-CA-0286-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Satisfaction of Judgment by Plaintiff United States and Order of Dismissal with Prejudice 09/20/2000 (C.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0286-0002 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Chapman, Rosalyn M. (C.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
EE-CA-0286-9000
Fernandez, Ferdinand Francis (Ninth Circuit, C.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0286-0001
Pfaelzer, Mariana R. (C.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0286-0002 | EE-CA-0286-9000
Wardlaw, Kim McLane (Ninth Circuit, C.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0286-0001
Weiner, Charles R. (E.D. Pa.)
EE-CA-0286-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Adelstein, Jay (District of Columbia)
EE-CA-0286-0002
Annexstein, Leslie T. (New York)
EE-CA-0286-9000
Bowers, Terree (California)
EE-CA-0286-9000
Cader, M. Yasmin (California)
EE-CA-0286-9000
Chandler, Thomas E. (District of Columbia)
EE-CA-0286-0001
Chen, Edward Milton (California)
EE-CA-0286-9000
Chun, Marisa A (California)
EE-CA-0286-9000
Dimsey, Dennis J. (District of Columbia)
EE-CA-0286-0001
Eisenstein, Miriam R. (District of Columbia)
EE-CA-0286-0001
Eure, Philip K (District of Columbia)
EE-CA-0286-0001 | EE-CA-0286-9000
Fenton, William B. (District of Columbia)
EE-CA-0286-9000
Ford, Donna J. (California)
EE-CA-0286-9000
Hack, Elizabeth (District of Columbia)
EE-CA-0286-9000
Lee, Bill Lann (District of Columbia)
EE-CA-0286-0001 | EE-CA-0286-0002
Turner, James P. (District of Columbia)
EE-CA-0286-9000
Weidman, Leon W. (California)
EE-CA-0286-0001 | EE-CA-0286-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bottger, William C (California)
EE-CA-0286-9000
Connelly, Blair G (California)
EE-CA-0286-0001 | EE-CA-0286-0002 | EE-CA-0286-9000
Eschen, Lisa Von (California)
EE-CA-0286-0001 | EE-CA-0286-0002 | EE-CA-0286-9000
Fellows, John L. (California)
EE-CA-0286-0001 | EE-CA-0286-0002 | EE-CA-0286-9000
Flick, Wayne S. (California)
EE-CA-0286-0001 | EE-CA-0286-0002 | EE-CA-0286-9000
Keroes, Amy Nicole (California)
EE-CA-0286-9000
Pfister, Thomas L. (California)
EE-CA-0286-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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