Guerrero v. Cal. Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Filed 11/6/18 CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA FIRST APPELLATE DISTRICT DIVISION FOUR VICTOR GUERRERO, Plaintiff and Appellant, A147507 v. CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF (San Francisco City & County CORRECTIONS AND Super. Ct. No. CGC-14-539692) REHABILITATION, Defendant and Respondent. I. INTRODUCTION Victor Guerrero, a Mexican immigrant and aspiring California correctional officer, filed a federal action alleging discriminatory failure-to-hire against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (the CDCR), among other defendants. He pled federal and state law claims, but only his state claims allowed him to seek general damages. The federal court dismissed Guerrero’s state claims on Eleventh Amendment grounds, effectively limiting his potential money recovery to the equitable remedy of backpay. To recoup damages, Guerrero filed this action in superior court. After final judgment was entered in the federal action—in Guerrero’s favor—the superior court dismissed his state claims under California claim preclusion principles. On appeal, Guerrero now argues that federal law, not California law, governs the preclusive effect of the federal judgment. Under federal law, Guerrero contends, there is a well-recognized exception to claim preclusion rules where jurisdictional limitations in a prior suit blocked the plaintiff’s request for complete relief, as was the case here. We 1 agree and shall reverse. II. FACTS A. Background Guerrero is among the many Americans who are popularly known as “Dreamers.” He was brought from Mexico to the United States by his parents in 1990 at age 11. In 1995, at age 15, he created a false Social Security number (SSN) to acquire a job, and used the made-up SSN until 2007, when he secured a legitimate SSN. He became a United States citizen in 2011. After Guerrero gained citizenship, he applied to become a correctional officer with the CDCR. He passed the written and physical exams in the first stage of the CDCR’s eligibility process and was placed on the eligibility list. The second stage involved completing the CDCR’s background investigation questionnaire. Question 75 on the questionnaire presented a problem. It asked, “Have you ever had or used a social security number other than the one you used on this questionnaire?” Guerrero answered “yes” and provided a supplemental explanation. Based on that answer, the CDCR informed Guerrero he was no longer eligible to become a correctional officer. Undaunted, Guerrero appealed to the State Personnel Board (the SPB), lost, and then reapplied to the CDCR in spring 2013. He again passed the first stage of eligibility and moved on to the background investigation questionnaire. Once again, he answered “yes” to question 75 and provided an explanation. Ultimately, he was rejected again. He appealed to the SPB, to no avail. B. Underlying Litigation 1. Filing of the Federal Action After exhausting administrative remedies, Guerrero filed a complaint in federal district court on December 9, 2013 (the Federal Action), naming the CDCR, the SPB and various individuals as defendants. That case alleged employment discrimination in violation of title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and ...

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Source: All recent Immigration Decisions In All the U.S. Courts of Appeals