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