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PEOPLE OF STATE OF ILL. v. BD. OF EDUC.

April 3, 1985

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS ON THE RELATION OF PATRICK SCHOEPF AND PATRICK SCHOEPF, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF MORTON HIGH SCHOOLS, DISTRICT 201, COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS AND KENNETH KEELING, DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER

Before the Court is defendants' motion for summary judgment in their favor on plaintiff's four-count complaint. For the reasons stated below, defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted.

Summary judgment for a defendant is appropriate under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "only if the pleadings, depositions and affidavits fail to disclose a genuine issue of material fact." Gracyalny v. Westinghouse Electric Co., 723 F.2d 1311, 1316 (7th Cir. 1983). In deciding the motion, the Court must "resolve all doubts against the party seeking summary judgment." Id. Under Local Rule 12 of the Rules of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, a party moving for summary judgment, in addition to affidavits and other material referred to in Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e), must submit a statement of material facts as to which there is no genuine dispute. Local Rule 12(e) (N.D.Ill.). The party opposing summary judgment must then file a "statement of genuine issues" setting forth material facts as to which there exists a genuine issue. Local Rule 12(f) (N.D.Ill.). To the extent that the "statement of genuine issues" fails to controvert the moving party's statement of material facts, those matters are deemed admitted for purposes of deciding the Rule 56 motion. Id. Applying these standards, the following facts are assumed as true for purposes of this motion.

I. FACTS

Prior to March 1, 1983, plaintiff Patrick Schoepf was employed as a custodian by defendant Board of Education of Morton High Schools, District 201 ("Morton High School"). At all times relevant to plaintiff's complaint, defendant Kenneth Keeling was employed as Assistant Superintendent and Business Manager of Morton High School. In Count I of his complaint, Schoepf alleges that Keeling wrongfully discharged him from his employment in violation of the fifth and fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution; Schoepf seeks reinstatement to his job. Counts II and III are grounded upon the common law of libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress, respectively, and seek $100,000 in actual damages. Count IV seeks punitive damages in the amount of $100,000.

Schoepf was hired as a custodian at Morton West High School in 1981. Schoepf's duties included sweeping, dusting, washing blackboards and walls, scrubbing and waxing floors, and emptying trash cans. Schoepf worked the 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. shift and was responsible for cleaning the school library. Schoepf and about five other employees had keys to the library.

In February of 1983, Keeling discovered that the Xerox machine in the library at Morton West High School, which operated on a pay-per-copy basis, was producing unusually low revenues. Keeling requested Dr. V.J. Downes, the Director of Library and Media Services, to investigate the cause of the lower-than-normal revenues. Downes reported to Keeling that since September of 1982, according to the counter on the Xerox machine, the machine should have produced about $500 more revenue than it had produced. Downes also reported that the library staff normally left the key to the Xerox machine in an unlocked cabinet behind the library desk. See defendants' Statement of Material Facts, at 3; Schoepf Dep. at 20.

Keeling asked Downes to have her staff count the money in the Xerox machine each day at the close of school and to count it again when they returned to the library the following morning. Counting the Xerox machine money in this manner, Downes discovered that every morning when the money was recounted, several dollars in change were missing from the machine.

Keeling then advised Donald Ciner, the Principal of Morton West High School, about the money shortages from the library Xerox machine and requested Ciner to check the Xerox machine's money box before he went home at night. On at least two occasions, having first counted the money in the Xerox machine at about 3:30 p.m., Ciner returned to the library at about 10:30 p.m. and discovered that money was missing from the machine.

In an effort to determine who was responsible for the money shortages, Keeling contacted the school's truant officer, Mr. Czechowski, a former police officer, to obtain powder which could not be detected except under a "black light." Keeling and Ciner dusted $25 worth of dimes with the powder and placed the coins in the Xerox machine's collection box during the daytime hours of Tuesday, March 1, 1983. Following the close of school on the same date, Keeling remained in a library reading room in a position from which he could see the Xerox machine.

In the course of his duties on March 1, 1983, Schoepf entered and began to clean all areas of the library, including the area around the Xerox machine. Schoepf then saw the key to the Xerox machine inside the lock of the machine. Attempting to clean the machine, Schoepf observed the coin box fall out of the machine and coins spill onto the floor. Schoepf picked up those coins, put them back into the coin box, locked up the coin box and put the key to the machine in the cabinet behind the library desk.*fn1 Shortly thereafter, Keeling apprehended Schoepf near the door of the library and ordered him to accompany him to the principal's office. On the way to the principal's office, Keeling requested Ivan Fako, the custodial foreman and Schoepf's immediate supervisor, to accompany them to the principal's office.

In the principal's office, Keeling told Schoepf that he had witnessed him taking money from the Xerox machine in the library. Schoepf denied taking the money. Keeling advised Schoepf that the coins in the machine had been treated with a special powder. Keeling asked Schoepf if he would be willing to put the coins that were in his pocket, or his hands, under a black light to determine whether or not the coins were the coins taken from the Xerox machine. Schoepf said that he would not put the coins or his hands under the black light. Keeling then ordered Schoepf to punch out and not to complete the remaining hours of his work shift. Keeling told Schoepf to give Fako his keys and not to return to work until he made an appointment to discuss the matter with Keeling in his office.

On Wednesday, March 2, 1983, Schoepf called Keeling's secretary and scheduled an appointment to meet with Keeling at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 3, 1983. Prior to the March 3 meeting, Schoepf contacted Dick Laat, his union steward, and fully advised Laat of the nature of the allegations against himself. On March 3, 1983, Schoepf also met with Ted Kawiecki, the head union steward, and Joe Belcaster, the union steward from Morton East High School, and again fully related to the union representatives the nature of the allegations against himself. Kawiecki and Laat accompanied Schoepf to the March 3, 1983 meeting in Keeling's office to act as his witnesses.*fn2

At the March 3, 1983 meeting, Keeling advised Schoepf, Kawiecki and Laat that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the money shortages from the Xerox machine in the library at Morton West High School. Keeling recounted that a large sum of money had been taken over a period of time and that he had personally observed Schoepf take the keys from the cabinet and take money from the machine. Schoepf again denied his involvement. Schoepf also stated that the keys to the Xerox machine were already hanging in the machine on the night of March 1, 1983. Clarence Pawlowski corroborated this, ...


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