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GURGONE v. CITY OF CHICAGO

May 29, 1984

DENNIS GURGONE, MICHAEL E. DALY, MICHAEL F. BRUEN, AND PATRICK CARROLL, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, AN ILLINOIS MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, HAROLD WASHINGTON, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, AND CHARLES A. POUNIAN, COMMISSIONER OF THE DEPARTMENT OF PERSONNEL, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bua, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM ORDER

This case was brought by plaintiffs to enforce the provisions of the 1972 consent decree entered in Shakman v. Democratic Organization of Cook County, reprinted in Shakman v. Democratic Organization of Cook County, 481 F. Supp. 1315, 1356 app. (N.D.Ill. 1979). The plaintiffs are individuals who were terminated by the City, reinstated pursuant to an order of this Court in 1980, and again terminated in 1983. Before the Court is the defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Complaint or Alternatively, to Dismiss Harold Washington and Charles A. Pounian as Individual Party-Defendants to the Complaint for Violation of the Reinstatement Order and Violation of the Shakman Decree. For the reasons stated herein, defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Complaint is granted in part and denied in part.

The plaintiffs' complaint is in two counts. The first count alleges that the defendants have violated the orders of this Court directing them to reinstate the plaintiffs, without interruption in employment benefits, to positions of employment similar in duties, grade levels, and pay, to the positions which they held prior to their initial termination. The second count alleges that by improperly and illegally terminating the plaintiffs in 1983, the defendants were again in violation of the Shakman decree.

Defendants' Motion to Dismiss contends that Count I of the complaint should be barred by the doctrine of laches and by estoppel as to plaintiffs Gurgone, Daly, and Bruen, and that Count II should be dismissed as to all defendants for failure to state a claim. Furthermore, it is claimed in the alternative that the complaint fails to state a claim against the individual party-defendants for violation of the Shakman decree. Finally, defendants contend that the complaint should be dismissed because it is not verified as required by U.S.Dist.Ct. — N.D.Ill.Civil Rule 18. These assertions will be addressed seriatim in the context of the facts and allegations concerning each individual plaintiff.

I. Dennis Gurgone

From 1965 until his first termination in 1979, plaintiff Gurgone was an employee of the City of Chicago, first in the Department of Buildings and later in the Department of Inspectional Services. During the period immediately prior to his initial termination, Gurgone held the position of Director of Administration in the Department of Inspectional Services. Gurgone was terminated from that position on October 15, 1980, allegedly because of his admitted support of Richard M. Daley.

Pursuant to a settlement order, Gurgone was reinstated to City employment on November 1, 1980. At that time, Gurgone was given the position of Assistant to the Commissioner of the Department of Inspectional Services at the same grade and rate of pay as he had enjoyed prior to the initial termination. Thereafter, in January, 1981, Gurgone's title was changed to Special Assistant of Inspectional Services.

Under the settlement, it was apparently understood that the position Gurgone was to be reinstated to be one with responsibilities commensurate with his knowledge and prior experience. Nevertheless, under neither title was Gurgone given any significant duties or responsibilities. Indeed, as Special Assistant of Inspectional Services, it is alleged that Gurgone's sole duty was to inspect business signs over public ways to verify the payment of City fees. Instead of being placed in a management or administrative level position, Gurgone contends that he was placed in virtual isolation in violation of the settlement.

To remedy the foregoing situation, Gurgone, by way of affidavit, states that once each month, from November, 1980 on, he spoke with his immediate supervisor in hopes of gaining some meaningful duties. When this proved to be unfruitful, Gurgone contacted his former attorneys, John C. Tucker and William Staszek of the law firm of Jenner and Block, who wrote a series of letters to James Daley of the Corporation Counsel's office. These letters stated that if nothing were done, plaintiff would be forced to come before this Court to obtain relief. While these letters did not result in any improvement in the situation, on May 21, 1981, Gurgone's attorneys received a proposed job description for Gurgone's position. Because he felt the duties of that job description were not consistent with his status, Gurgone rejected it. Thereafter, Gurgone's attorneys told him to "sit tight" and indicated that they were in constant contact with the City. At about that time, Gurgone admits, he realized that no purpose was being served by his continued contact with his attorneys and consequently he ceased communications with them.

On November 23, 1983, Gurgone filed a Freedom of Information Request regarding his final termination. On January 9, 1984, the City informed Gurgone that it had made a review and search and that no files other than the personnel files were found to exist and that no information was found in the personnel files.

II. Michael E. Daly

For the entire ten years of his career with the City, Michael E. Daly was employed by the Department of Finance as a Deputy Real Estate Agent. On November 14, 1979, Daly was terminated from his position, allegedly because of his admitted political support of Richard M. Daley.

On December 13, 1980, this Court entered a default judgment in favor of Daly and against the City, and ordered the City to reinstate Daly to the position he held immediately prior to this termination. On April 1, 1981, Daly was allowed to return to his former title; however, upon his return he was informed that he was being assigned to inventory control, a position which involved duties substantively different from those he had previously performed, in contravention of this Court's order. After rejecting these duties, Daly was assigned to an isolated office and was given absolutely nothing to do.

Like plaintiff Gurgone, Daly initially contacted attorneys Tucker and Staczek of Jenner and Block, who, in the same letters in which Gurgone was discussed, also attempted to get Daly assigned some meaningful work. In April, 1981, the City responded with a job description which encompassed duties in both real estate and personal property. While he accepted the portion of the job description which concerned real estate, he rejected the majority of it as it assigned him duties in the area of personal property as well as clerical work. Thereafter, the job description was modified to reflect that roughly 70 percent of Daly's duties were to be in real estate with the remainder in personal property. Daly accepted the real estate portion of the job description, but again rejected the personal property aspects of the job. Subsequently, again in a letter which also discussed Gurgone, Daly's attorney stated that while Daly was willing to be flexible, he was not willing to be shunted off into preparing a list of personal property and that if no reasonable job description was forthcoming, he ...


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