The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mills, District Judge:
Sex discrimination employment case.
Judgment directed for the Defendant — notwithstanding the
jury's verdict for the Plaintiff.
Plaintiff brought this cause of action alleging that six
employees of the Illinois State Museum acted and conspired to
deny her employment because of her sex in contravention of
42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1985. Prior to trial, the Court denied
Defendants' joint motion for summary judgment on the ground that
Plaintiff's allegations, if supported by the evidence, might
establish liability under the civil rights statutes. The Court,
however, expressed to counsel its concern with the element of
causation necessary in Plaintiff's proof.
At the close of the Plaintiff's case, the Court directed a
verdict for five of the six Defendants on the ground that
Plaintiff had manifestly failed to carry her burden of proof with
respect to these Defendants on the crucial elements of intent and
causation. These same elements were not yet established as to the
remaining Defendant but the Court determined that a more fully
developed record — including Plaintiff's rebuttal of the
Defendant's case — might elicit needed evidence.
The necessary evidence was not, however, forthcoming. At the
close of all the evidence, the Court reserved a decision on the
remaining Defendant's motion for a directed verdict. Fed.R.Civ.P.
50. Upon receipt of the jury's decision for the Plaintiff, the
Court directed a judgment for the Defendant, the jury's verdict
The standard for entering a directed verdict and a judgment
notwithstanding the jury's verdict is the same. See Sparrow v.
Yellow Cab Co., 273 F.2d 1 (7th Cir. 1960); Shaw v. Edward Hines
Lumber Co., 249 F.2d 434 (7th Cir. 1957). In considering such
motions, the Court must determine "whether the evidence
presented, combined with all reasonable inferences permissably
drawn therefrom, is sufficient to support the verdict when viewed
in a light most favorable to the party against whom the motion is
directed." Tice v. Lampert Yards, Inc., 761 F.2d 1210, 1213 (7th
The Court should not make credibility determinations. Brady v.
Southern Railroad, 320 U.S. 476, 64 S.Ct. 232, 88 L.Ed. 239
(1943); Sonnentheil v. Christian Moerlain Brewing Co.,
172 U.S. 401, 408, 19 S.Ct. 233, 235, 43 L.Ed. 492 (1899). Only the
non-moving party's evidence and the moving party's uncontradicted
and unimpeached evidence should be considered. Panter v. Marshall
Field & Co., 646 F.2d 271 (7th Cir.), cert. denied,
454 U.S. 1092, 102 S.Ct. 658, 70 L.Ed.2d 631 (1981), citing Brunner v.
Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railroad, 240 F.2d 608
(7th Cir. 1957); see also C.A. Wright and A.R. Miller, Federal
Practice and Procedure: Civil § 2524, p. 573 (1971).
In accordance with these guiding principles, the Court accepts
as established the following relevant evidence offered or
unchallenged by Plaintiff:
Plaintiff Van Houdnos is a woman. She applied for the position
of Art Gallery and Collections Assistant at the Illinois State
Museum. Prior to her application, she had performed the duties
required of a collections assistant while employed as a
Curatorial Assistant "intern." Ultimately, a male, Mr. Lawrence
Rhoads, received the Collections Assistant position.
The position the Plaintiff sought was under the direct
supervision of Defendant, Robert Evans, the museum's Curator of
Art. Evans stated to the Plaintiff that he preferred to have a
man fill the Collections Assistant position. Evans was the
official who had earlier approved the hiring of Plaintiff as a
Curatorial Assistant "intern" under a CETA grant and had approved
of her work in the intern position.
In the spring of 1979, Evans held a meeting of the museum's
department staff. During the course of the meeting, Evans
publicly stated his preference that a man be named Curatorial
Assistant. It is reasonable to infer that those Defendants who
attended this meeting knew of Evans' preference. Evans'
uncontradicted testimony establishes that all the members of the
art department had input into the content of the job
questionnaire, but that he probably prepared it. The application
forms, however, contained nothing discriminatory. The only
reasonable inference that may be drawn from this fact is that
Evans' preference for a man to fill the position did not
influence the drafting of the application forms.
In light of Mr. Evans' expressed preference for a man as
Collections Assistant, Plaintiff sought and received assurances
from the museum's director, Defendant Bruce McMillan, that she
would receive fair consideration for the open position.
Subsequent to and — it may be inferred — at least partially in
response to Plaintiff's concern that she would not receive fair
consideration for the assistantship, the museum administration
convened an ad hoc screening committee composed of three
experienced female museum employees: Defendants Maureen McKenna,
Judi Johnson, and Susan Pickel-Hedrick. Each member of the
screening committee was charged with reviewing individually each
of the 26 applications eventually received and with ranking the
applicants. Evans served as chairman of the screening committee
but did not review or rank any of the candidates. Defendant
Hedrick, the museum's assistant director and Evans' ...