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POPKINS v. ZAGEL

June 19, 1985

ROBERT J. POPKINS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JAMES B. ZAGEL, DIRECTOR OF DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS; JOSEPH E. GINTER, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS; AND THE DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reynolds, Chief Judge, Sitting by Designation.

  FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, AND ORDER

In this action under the United States Constitution and various federal statutes, the plaintiff charges that his statutory termination at age 60 from his position as an Illinois State Trooper constitutes illegal age discrimination and violates his right to equal protection. A bench trial before the Honorable J. Waldo Ackermann was held on September 26, 1984. Judge Ackerman passed away prior to filing findings of fact and conclusions of law, and consequently, the parties are entitled to a new trial pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 63. Arrow-Hart, Inc. v. Philip Carey Co., 552 F.2d 711 (6th Cir. 1977). The parties have agreed, however, to submit the entire transcript of proceedings held on September 26, 1984, to this Court for the issuance of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 52. By the same written stipulation, the parties have waived oral argument.

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. Robert J. Popkins was born June 24, 1923. He was hired by the Illinois Department of Law Enforcement, Division of State Police, on December 15, 1957, and served as a trooper until he was forced to retire on June 24, 1983, his sixtieth birthday.

2. The Illinois Department of Law Enforcement, Division of State Police, forced Popkins to retire pursuant to Ill.Rev.Stat. 1983, ch. 121, § 307.12-1, which provides: "No person may be retained in service as a state policeman after he has reached 60 year of age."

3. Illinois State Troopers are responsible for the patrol of highways, regulation, and enforcement of vehicle and criminal laws, accident and criminal investigations, arrests, searches, and the provision of first aid to ill/injured persons. A trooper must perform these duties in all types of weather conditions, and the working conditions include responding to hazardous situations, accident scenes, and service calls, some of which require physical effort in lifting and handling heavy materials, and in subduing or pursuing individuals who resist arrest.

4. At the time of his retirement, Popkins held the position of Public Information Officer for District Number 1. A Public Information Officer is required to be a state trooper and wear the uniform, including a weapon, but does not work as a highway patrol officer. A Public Information Officer releases news items and makes public appearances before school and civic groups.

5. Public Information Officers are required to carry out the responsibilities of the Department of Law Enforcement, including enforcement of traffic laws and responding to accidents as they travel throughout their district, and they must make themselves immediately available to the District Commander in emergency or disaster situations. The Department retains discretion to transfer Public Information Officers into any other position.

6. Popkins served as Public Information Officer for over six years, and was never called upon to respond to an emergency or disaster situation.

7. Prior to his forced retirement, Popkins was required to take, and passed, a physical examination on June 22, 1983. The test was administered by the Department of Law Enforcement and included various physical tests such as touching one's toes, picking up a person off the floor, and walking or running a mile and a half. A medical examination is not required.

8. The purpose of the Illinois statute requiring state police to retire at age 60 is to protect the public by assuring the physical preparedness of its uniformed police.

9. An individual's physical ability declines with age. One measure of an individual's physical ability is their aerobic capacity, which measures the amount of oxygen a body can absorb. Based upon the most strenuous aspects of a state trooper's job, a trooper should have an aerobic capacity of 3.0 liters of oxygen per minute. Aerobic capacity decreases with age, and the average 60 year old has an aerobic capacity of 2.1 or 2.2 liters per minute. Regular, vigorous exercise can only inprove aerobic capacity by 10 to 15%.

10. Coronary artery occlusion, which restricts the flow of blood to the heart, could cause an individual exposed to high levels of physical exertion to suffer a heart attack. By age 60, approximately 70% of men have significant coronary artery disease in the form of obstruction of at least one coronary artery to a degree of at least 50%. There is no practicable means to detect the presence of coronary artery occlusion in asymptomatic individuals. At age 55 and over, age is the most significant factor in predicting the presence or absence of coronary artery occlusion.

11. Robert J. Popkins filed this lawsuit on June 16, 1983. He notified the Secretary of Labor of his intent to file suit by filing a complaint with the Equal ...


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