Pardi v. Kaiser Found. Hosp., 389 F.3d 840 (9th Cir. 2004)

Stephan Pardi, a licensed respiratory care practitioner, sued Kaiser for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), intentional infliction of emotional distress, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage and breach of contract. In January 2000, Kaiser, Pardi and Pardi’s union entered into a Settlement Agreement and General Release to resolve an earlier series of grievances and EEOC claims Pardi had filed. By the terms of the agreement, Pardi resigned his employment (in place of the earlier termination of his employment for multiple acts of alleged misconduct) and waived all of his claims, and Kaiser paid him $130,000. Six months after Kaiser had reported Pardi’s termination to the Respiratory Care Board (RCB) and two weeks after the settlement, a senior investigator with the Department of Consumer Affairs contacted Kaiser’s Human Resources Department regarding allegations that Pardi had falsified medical records and acted unprofessionally. In response to the investigator’s subpoena, Kaiser released Pardi’s files, which had not yet been "revised" to show he had resigned and had not been terminated. Additionally, Kaiser allegedly failed to provide files to the investigator that could have supported Pardi’s explanation of the alleged misconduct. As a result of the investigation, the RCB temporarily suspended Pardi’s certification to practice and later required him to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before renewing his certificate. Kaiser also allegedly failed to respond to requests for information about Pardi that came from one of Pardi’s prospective employers. The Ninth Circuit reversed the trial court’s dismissal on summary judgment of Pardi’s breach of contract claim on the ground that Kaiser apparently had failed to take "prompt steps to vacate the termination and enter Pardi’s resignation" before the investigator examined the file. The Court also reversed the dismissal of Pardi’s ADA claim on the ground that Kaiser may have discriminated and retaliated against Pardi on the basis of his alleged disability (depression) in its interactions with the investigator. The Court rejected Kaiser’s argument that its actions in connection with the investigation were protected by the state litigation privilege. The Court affirmed dismissal of the emotional distress claim on the ground that Pardi had failed to establish sufficiently outrageous conduct on Kaiser’s part and of the interference claim on the ground that it was not sufficiently probable that Pardi would have been hired by the prospective employer but for Kaiser’s alleged refusal to verify Pardi’s employment.