Coppedge v. JPL

In April 2010, David Coppedge sued his employer, Cal Tech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). In March 2011, the suit was amended to include wrongful termination as he was laid off in January of 2011.

In his complaint, Coppedge describes his activities that he claims were at the center of his problems with JPL:

  • discussed Intelligent Design with co-workers
  • requested the annual Holiday Party be renamed, “Christmas Party”
  • discussed Proposition 8 with co-workers (California constitutional amendment to define marriage to include only heterosexual partners)
  • distributed DVDs promoting Intelligent Design to co-workers [“Unlocking the Mystery of Life” and “The Privileged Planet”]

 

His view is that, although these activities caused no problems and are protected by law, JPL's responses amounted to religious discrimination, harassment, wrongful demotion, and retaliation ultimately resulting in his termination. In January 2013, the judge presiding over the case found for the defendant, ruling that Coppedge failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that Caltech (which operates JPL for NASA) engaged in religious discrimination against, retaliated against, failed to prevent discrimination against, wrongfully demoted, or wrongfully terminated Coppedge.

Unrelated to this case are items of interest regarding David Coppedge. Reporting on the case before it went to trial, the Pasadena Star-News (November 30, 2011) described Coppedge as "[a] well-known figure among proponents of 'intelligent design'" and noted that he operates the Creation-Evolution Headlines website, although the newspaper overlooked the fact that he is also on the board of Illustra Media, which produces "intelligent design" films such as Unlocking the Mystery of Life, The Privileged Planet, and Darwin's Dilemma. His father, James F. Coppedge, Ph.D. (Theology) wrote an anti-evolution book, Evolution: Possible or Impossible?, and headed a Christian outreach ministry in Southern California.

AttachmentSize
4/14/10: Complaint211.27 KB
4/15/10: Plaintiff Requests a Different Judge41.81 KB
6/7/10: First Amended Complaint1.16 MB
6/30/10: Plaintiff's Objection to the Deposing of Coppedge by the Defendant50.79 KB
7/23/10: Defendant's Answer to First Amended Complaint207.25 KB
3/11/11: Second Amended Complaint1.72 MB
5/2/11: Defendant's Answer to Second Amended Complaint194.43 KB
5/12/11: Request to Dismiss Charges against Clark Burgess, Kevin Klenk, & Gregory Chin75.28 KB
6/3/11: Court Denies Continuance of Trial Date43.53 KB
6/3/11: JPL's Opposition to Continue Trial Date36.67 KB
6/29/11: Court schedules a Settlement Conference667.82 KB
7/1/11: JPL's Statement of Facts Supporting Summary Judgment1.11 MB
7/1/11: JPL's Memorandum of Points & Authorities supporting Summary Judgment1.23 MB
7/1/11: JPL's Motion for Summary Judgment549.31 KB
7/28/11: Coppedge requests dismissal of complaint against individuals1.11 MB
9/2/11: Plaintiff's Objection to Motion for Judgment209.44 KB
9/2/11: Declaration of Lawrence P. Ball975.14 KB
9/2/11: Plaintiff's Objections to JPL's Separate Statement of Facts1.44 MB
9/2/11: Plaintiff's Statement of Additional Disputed Facts1.54 MB
9/2/11: Plaintiff's Objections to Evidence1.34 MB
9/16/11: Trial Date continued to 14 December 20111000.87 KB
10/11/11: Plaintiff's Supplemental Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment952.81 KB
10/18/11: Supplemental Reply in Support of Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment1.4 MB
10/18/11: Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Opposition to Summary Judgment1.15 MB
11/18/11: Court Rules for Trial1.39 MB
11/30/11: Defendant's Order in Limine to Exclude Use of Viewpoint Discrimination1.15 MB
11/30/11: Defendant's Order in Limine to Exclude or Limit Testimony of David DeWolf721.84 KB
11/30/11: Defendant's Order in Limine to Exclude Plaintiff's Opinions of Legal Issues205.18 KB
11/30/11: Defendant's Order In Limine to Exclude Contention that Research On Origin of Life was a Factor in Plaintiff's Activities611.3 KB
11/30/11: Defendant's Order in Limine to Exclude Contents of DVD1.59 MB
11/30/11: Defendant's Order in Limine to Exclude Privileged Consultation between Defendant and Counsel1.33 MB
11/30/11: Defendant's Order in Limine to Exclude Plaintiff's Opinion of His Job Performance269.57 KB
12/1/11: Plaintiff's Proposed Jury Instructions No. 2: Good Cause to Terminate33.66 KB
12/1/11: Declaration of William Becker, Jr.2.7 MB
12/1/11: Plaiintiff's Proposed Jury Voir Dire Questions124.66 KB
12/1/11: Defendant's Order in Limine to Permit use of DVD Content278.95 KB
12/1/11: Plaintiff's Proposed Jury Instruction No. 3: Factors Constituting Adverse Employment Action43.78 KB
12/1/11: Plaintiff's Amended Proposed Jury Instructions96.12 KB
12/1/11: Plaintiff's Proposed Jury Instruction No. 4: Types of Evidence Bearing upon Liability for Retaliation33.55 KB
12/1/11: Plaintiff's Proposed Jury Instruction No. 1: Liability for Descrimination Based upon Perception of Religious Belief39.27 KB
12/2/11: Plaintiff's Amended Proposed Jury Instruction No. 1: Liability for Discrimination Based upon Perception of Religious Belief43.05 KB
12/2/11: Plaintiff's Proposed Jury Instructions96.11 KB
12/2/11: Plaintiff's Proposed Short Statement for the Jury39.43 KB
12/2/11: Joint Stipulation of Trial Rules171.21 KB
12/2/11: Plaintiff's Trial Brief475.3 KB
12/14/11: P's Opposition to D's Motion in Limine #4279.45 KB
12/14/11: P's Opposition to D's Motion in Limine #641.83 KB
12/14/11: Wm Becker re D's Motion in Limine #1377.69 KB
12/14/11: P's Opposition to D's Motion in Limine #2320.28 KB
12/14/11: P's Opposition to D's Motion in Limine #892.91 KB
12/14/11: Wm Becker re D's Motion in Limine #3336.67 KB
12/14/11: Wm Becker re D's Motion in Limine #2492.53 KB
12/14/11: Wm Becker re D's Motion in Limine #51.76 MB
12/14/11: Wm Becker re D's Motion in Limine #41.43 MB
12/14/11: P's Opposition to D's Motion in Limine #1211.7 KB
12/14/11: D's Opposition to P's Motion in Limine #1866.37 KB
12/14/11: P's Opposition to D's Motion in Limine #3145.3 KB
12/14/11: P's Opposition to D's Motion in Limine #5324.47 KB
12/14/11: P's Opposition to D's Motion in Limine #7124.02 KB
12/27/11: Wm Becker's reply to JPL's opposition to P's Motion In Limine #1463.69 KB
12/27/11: JPL's reply supporting D's Motion In Limine 1149.02 KB
12/27/11: JPL's reply supporting D's Motion In Limine 23.79 MB
12/27/11: JPL's reply supporting D's Motion In Limine 3945.68 KB
12/27/11: JPL's reply supporting D's Motion In Limine 4415.99 KB
12/27/11: JPL's reply supporting D's Motion In Limine 5642.12 KB
12/27/11: JPL's reply supporting D's Motion In Limine 7611.42 KB
12/27/11: JPL's reply supporting D's Motion In Limine 8106.6 KB
12/27/11: P's reply to JPL's opposition to P's Motion In Limine 1256.92 KB
1/27/12: Plaintiff's Motion In Limine #3 Exhibit - HR Letter79.79 KB
1/27/12: Plaintiff's Motion in Limine #3 to Exclude argument that JPL had right to interfere124.95 KB
1/27/12: Plaintiff's Motion in Limine #5 to Exclude Testimony of JPL's Economist151.31 KB
1/27/12: Plaintiff's Motion in Limine #2 to Exclude mention of Proposition 8153.85 KB
1/27/12: Plaintiff's Motion in Limine #4 to Exclude references to Third Parties with an interest in the trial's outcome112.88 KB
1/27/12: Plaintiff's Reply to Opposition to P's Motion in Limine #1 - DVDs462.6 KB
1/27/12: Plaintiff's Supplemental Declaration Supporting Motion in Limine #1 - DVDs40.99 KB
1/27/12: Plaintiff's Declaration in Support of Motion in Limine #2 - Exclude references to Proposition 8234.89 KB
1/27/12: Plaintiff's Declaration in Support of Motion in Limine #3 - Exclude suggestions that JPL had right to interfere170.14 KB
1/27/12: Plaintiff's Declaration in Support of Motion in Limine #5 - Exclude JPL Economist's Testimony249.32 KB
1/27/12: Plaintiff's Declaration in Support of Motion in Limine #4 - Exclude references to Third Parties41.31 KB
2/7/12: Plaintiff's Supplemental Declaration in Support of Motion in Limine #5 to Exclude Testimony of JPL's Economist108.37 KB
2/9/12: JPL's Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion in Limine #2 to Exclude mention of Proposition 81.35 MB
2/9/12: JPL's Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion in Limine #3 to Exclude argument that JPL had right to interfere1.32 MB
2/9/12: JPL's Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion in Limine #4 to Exclude references to 3rd Parties with an interest in the trial's outcome649.87 KB
2/9/12: JPL's Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion in Limine #5 to Exclude Testimony of JPL's Economist1.88 MB
2/15/12: Plaintiff's Reply to JPL's Opposition to P's Motion in Limine #2 to Exclude references to Proposition 8132.15 KB
2/15/12: Plaintiff's Reply to JPL's Opposition to P's Motion in Limine #3 to Exclude argument that JPL had right to interfere102.85 KB
2/15/12: Plaintiff's Reply to JPL's Opposition to P's Motion in Limine #4 to Exclude Third Parties106.47 KB
2/15/12: Plaintiff's Reply to JPL's Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion in Limine #5 to Preclude Economist's Testifying158.77 KB
2/17/12: JPL's Proposed Jury Instructions490.57 KB
2/17/12: JPL's Proposed Statement of the Case67.33 KB
2/23/12: Amended Joint Exhibit List1.56 MB
2/23/12: Amended Joint Witness List89.75 KB
3/5/12: JPL's Motion in Limine to Exclude NASA's Guidelines on Religious Exercise948.31 KB
3/5/12: JPL's Trial Brief552.53 KB
3/6/12: Second Amended Joint Trial Exhibit List1.63 MB
3/12/12: Court grants media request subject to conditions42.01 KB
3/13/12: JPL's Opposition to Plaintiff's Objection to JPL's Representative68.92 KB
3/13/12: JPL's Request to limit media coverage120.3 KB
3/13/12: JPL's Supplemental Support of Motion in Limine #3 Excluding mention of NASA and/or JPL's Programs or Research on Origins of Life108.07 KB
3/14/12: JPL's Brief on the Relevance of Witnesses' Religious Background413.93 KB
3/14/12: Plaintiff's Opposition to JPL's Request to Limit Media Coverage151.6 KB
4/4/12: Plaintiff's Motion in Limine 6 to exclude Cumulative & Irrelevant Witnesses182.75 KB
4/9/12: Plaintiff's Motion in Limine 7 to exclude Employee Performance Ranking Records173.3 KB
4/9/12: Declaration in support of Plaintiff's Motion in Limine #7774.29 KB
4/10/12: JPL's Objection to Plaintiff's Demand for inspecting and copying documents857.54 KB
4/10/12: JPL's Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion in Limine #7997.4 KB
4/26/12: Joint Stipulation to Exclude Evidence and Argument85.85 KB
5/8/12: Plaintiff's Post-trial Brief712.48 KB
5/29/12: JPL's Post-Trial Response Brief753.99 KB
6/8/12: Plaintiff's Post-Trial Reply Brief237.89 KB
8/28/12: Plaintiff's Supplemental Brief166.15 KB
10/31/12: Court's Tentative Ruling in Favor of JPL29.8 KB
11/8/12: Plaintiff's Request for Statement of Decision206.58 KB
11/16/12: JPL's Response to Coppedge's Request for Statement215.88 KB
11/30/12: Defendant's Proposed Statement of Decision1.88 MB
12/14/12: Plaintiff's Objection to JPL's Proposed Statement of Decision, 1931.38 KB
12/14/12: Plaintiff's Objection to JPL's Proposed Statement of Decision, 253.58 KB
12/14/12: Plaintiff's Objection to JPL's Proposed Statement of Decision, 32.28 MB
12/14/12: Plaintiff's Objection to JPL's Proposed Statement of Decision, 41.53 MB
12/14/12: Plaintiff's Objection to JPL's Proposed Statement of Decision, 5774.45 KB
12/14/12: Plaintiff's Objection to JPL's Proposed Statement of Decision, 6772.08 KB
12/14/12: Plaintiff's Objection to JPL's Proposed Statement of Decision, 7391.51 KB
12/17/12: Plaintiff's Request for Judicial Notice181.35 KB
12/19/12: Defendant's Reponse to Plaintiff's Objections to Defendant's Proposed Statement of Decision129.29 KB
12/21/12: Plaintiff's Objection to Defendant's Objection to Plaintiff's Objections to Defendant's Proposed Statement of Decision314.29 KB
1/15/13: Judgment on Decision of Court90.33 KB
1/16/13: Court adopts Defendant's Proposed Statement of Decision43.72 KB