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06/08/87 Dora Gibson, v. Chemical Card Services

June 8, 1987





510 N.E.2d 37, 157 Ill. App. 3d 211, 109 Ill. Dec. 416 1987.IL.762

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Thomas R. Rakowski, Judge, presiding.


PRESIDING JUSTICE QUINLAN delivered the opinion of the court. CAMPBELL and O'CONNOR, JJ., concur.


The plaintiff, Dora Gibson, filed a complaint in the circuit court of Cook County against her former employer, Chemical Card Services Corporation (Chemical). Plaintiff sought to recover money damages for the intentional infliction of severe emotional distress which she alleged occurred during a criminal investigation in which the plaintiff was suspected of stealing credit cards from Chemical. Chemical moved for summary judgment pursuant to section 2-1005 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 2-1005). In support of its motion, Chemical filed the affidavit of its company investigator, and in opposition to the defendant's motion, the plaintiff filed her own affidavit. Following a hearing, the trial court granted the motion and entered summary judgment for the defendant. Plaintiff appealed. We affirm.

In reviewing an order granting summary judgment, this court must determine whether "the pleadings, depositions, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 2-1005(c); see Fooden v. Board of Governors of State Colleges & Universities (1971), 48 Ill. 2d 580, 272 N.E.2d 497, cert. denied (1972), 408 U.S. 943, 33 L. Ed. 2d 766, 92 S. Ct. 2847; Rivera v. Mahogony Corp. (1986), 145 Ill. App. 3d 213, 494 N.E.2d 660.) If this court finds that a genuine issue concerning any material fact exists, then the order granting summary judgment must be reversed. (Continental Illinois National Bank & Trust Co. v. Hyder (1986), 150 Ill. App. 3d 911, 502 N.E.2d 431.) However, while the plaintiff need not prove her case at the summary judgment stage, she must, nevertheless, present some facts to support the elements of her claim. Technical Representatives, Inc. v. Richardson-Merrell, Inc. (1982), 107 Ill. App. 3d 830, 438 N.E.2d 599.

The plaintiff here alleged in her complaint that the defendant, through its agents, had engaged in the following conduct which she claimed was extreme, excessive and outrageous. The plaintiff asserted that the defendant accused her of being involved in the theft of company credit cards and demanded that she confess; told her that the stolen cards had been used at her husband's place of employment; claimed that her husband was also involved in the thefts; said that three witnesses had seen her selling credit cards on the street; threatened to send her to jail for 15 years, during which time she would not see her family; and, finally, terminated her employment. The plaintiff alleged that this conduct of the defendant caused her to suffer severe mental anguish, humiliation, and extreme emotional distress.

As stated above, in response to the plaintiff's complaint, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment which was supported by the affidavit of one of its special investigators, Robert Jasinski. According to Jasinski's affidavit, Chemical is in the retail revolving credit business, and its operations include the evaluation of credit card applications, the production and issuance of credit cards, and the administration of accounts for both cardholders and merchants.

Jasinski, in his affidavit, indicated that his duties included the investigation of any suspected theft of credit cards, and that, in July of 1985, he had discovered that numerous credit cards had been disappearing from the department in which the plaintiff worked. Jasinski's affidavit said that he referred the matter to the United States Secret Service in August of 1985 and that the Secret Service began to conduct interviews with the employees of plaintiff's department. The Secret Service interviewed the plaintiff, Jasinski's affidavit related, on August 12 and again on September 16, 1985.

Further, according to Jasinski's affidavit, Jasinski was the only Chemical representative present during the interviews conducted by the Secret Service. Also, Jasinski stated that, during the interviews, the Secret Service agent conducting the interviews would identify himself as such at the beginning of each interview. Jasinski stated that he was present during the two interviews with the plaintiff and that he did ask some questions during the plaintiff's interviews, but that he also left the room at various times during each interview.

In opposition to Chemical's motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff, Dora Gibson, filed her own affidavit which described the events of the September 16 interview. Gibson stated that the interview was conducted by Jasinski and another man who claimed to be a Federal officer and who identified himself as Rick Norton. Gibson stated that Norton informed her that three people had seen her selling the missing charge cards on the street for $100. When Norton made these statements, Gibson said Jasinski stared at her and shook his head in agreement with Norton's accusations. According to Gibson, Norton left the room, and Jasinski then said that she should tell them about her involvement in the thefts. Gibson said that Jasinski told her, at that time, to make it easy on herself since there was no time to play games. Thereafter, Norton returned, Gibson stated, and then informed the plaintiff that several false credit charges had taken place at her husband's place of employment, and then Norton asked Gibson, according to Gibson's affidavit, if her husband had put her up to it. Gibson stated that Jasinski, subsequently, made her sign certain names that appeared on the stolen cards and that Norton claimed that Gibson's handwriting matched that on the stolen cards and Jasinski nodded in agreement. At that point, Norton shouted at the plaintiff that she was going to go to jail for 15 years during which time she would not see her family. Again, Jasinski nodded in agreement. Thereafter, Norton left the room again, and Jasinski told Gibson that she should not make Norton angry because Norton had a bad temper and could let Gibson "have it."

Gibson further stated in her affidavit that she was shocked, terrified, and thought she would die of fright during the September 16 interview. She said that the defendant's conduct made her sick and caused her to suffer physical, mental and emotional pain.

Additionally, Gibson, in her affidavit, said that Jasinski informed her at the Conclusion of the second interview not to come to work on the following day. Attached to Gibson's affidavit was a copy of a letter which she had received from Chemical. The letter stated that Gibson had been suspended without pay until ...

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