Jumaane v. City of Los Angeles, 241 Cal. App. 4th 1390 (2015)

Jabari Jumaane, an African-American firefighter with the Los Angeles Fire Department, sued the City of Los Angeles for racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Following a 34-day jury trial, the jury found for Jumaane on his claims and awarded him more than $1 million in damages. Following the trial, the city filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict based upon the statute of limitations, which the trial court denied. In this opinion, the Court of Appeal reversed, holding that the evidence of events that occurred before 2001 was not part of a continuing violation and that the evidence of events that occurred after that date was insufficient to prove the plaintiff’s claims. The appellate court concluded that the trial court committed “manifest error” when it refused to give a city-requested instruction to the jury about the “continuing violation” doctrine – the trial court’s previous denial of the city’s motion for summary judgment on that issue only meant that there were triable issues of material fact that the jury should have been permitted to decide. The Court further held that Jumaane could not rely upon the continuing violation doctrine to sue for events that he alleged occurred in the 1990s because he knew those actions had become permanent by 1999 and that further efforts on his part to end the alleged conduct would have been in vain – yet he did not file his lawsuit until 2003.