United States District Court, Southern District of Illinois, Benton Division
July 13, 1988
RALPH A. OKORO, PLAINTIFF,
JACKSON COUNTY NURSING HOME, RICHARD A. LIGON, JACKSON COUNTY BOARD, ROBERT L. KOEHN, JUNE BORGSMILLER, JOANN GROVES AND NORMA GUALDONI, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Foreman, Chief Judge:
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on defendants Jackson County Nursing
Home, Richard Ligon, Jackson County Board and Robert Koehn's Motion to
Dismiss (Document No. 16) (hereinafter Jackson County defendants) and
defendants Borgsmiller, Groves and Gualdoni's Motion to Dismiss (Document
No. 18) (hereinafter Nursing Home defendants). Although the two motions
differ somewhat, they will both be dealt with in this Order.
The Jackson County Defendants' Motion
These defendants urge the Court to dismiss plaintiff's claims against
them in part because they may be barred by the statute of limitations and
in part, apparently, for failure to state a claim for which the requested
relief can be granted. Because the limitations issues are also applicable
to the Nursing Home Defendants, these points will be dealt with in that
section of this Order.
As to the emotional distress and pre-judgment interest issues, the
Court finds these points without merit. It is well established in this
circuit that a plaintiff may recover money damages for emotional distress
under § 1981. See Ramsey v. American Air Filter Co., Inc.,
772 F.2d 1303 (7th Cir. 1985), Hunter v. Allis-Chalmers Corp., Engine
Division, 797 F.2d 1417 (7th Cir. 1986), Reeder-Baker v. Lincoln National
Corp., 649 F. Supp. 647 (N.D.Ind. 1986), affirmed 834 F.2d 1373 (7th
Cir. 1987). Furthermore, prejudgment interest is allowable on back-pay
damages. Hunter v. Allis-Chalmers Corp., supra. For these reasons, the
Jackson County Defendants' motion is denied on these points.
The Nursing Home Defendants' Motion
This group of defendants asserts: 1) that because they were not named
in plaintiff's original EEOC complaint, they are not proper Title VII
defendants in this case, and 2) that plaintiff's § 1981 and §
1983 claims are barred by the statute of limitations. Plaintiff Okoro
filed his initial charge of discrimination January 4, 1985, against the
Jackson County Nursing Home, not specifically naming defendants
Borgsmiller, Groves, or Gualdoni as the persons who discriminated against
him. After receiving his "right to sue" letter on May 22, 1987, Okoro
then filed a civil complaint in this Court on August 20, 1987, against
the Jackson County Nursing Home and the Jackson County Government, again
not specifically naming any of the instant defendants as a party
defendant. It was not until the filing of his first Amended Complaint on
February 9, 1988, that these individuals were actually named. These
defendants now assert that because they were not specifically charged in
the complaint filed with the EEOC nor in plaintiff's pro se complaint,
they are not amenable to a Title VII claim.
EEOC charges are to be construed with the "utmost liberality" and
parties sufficiently named or alluded to in the factual statement are to
be joined. Eggleston v. Chicago Journeymen Plumbers, etc., 657 F.2d 890,
906 (7th Cir. 1981), see also, Babrocky v. Jewel Food Co. & Retail
Meatcutters, 773 F.2d 857, 864 (7th Cir. 1985). Where an unnamed party
has been provided with adequate notice of the charge, under circumstances
where the party has been given the opportunity to participate in
conciliation proceedings aimed at voluntary compliance, the charge is
sufficient to confer jurisdiction over that party. Eggleston, supra, 657
F.2d at 905.
Here, in the factual statement of the EEOC charge, Okoro specifically
named defendants Groves and Gualdoni as two of the individuals that
him, as well as alluding to other "supervisors." Likewise, in his pro se
complaint both Groves and Gualdoni as well as other "supervisors" were
again named as the parties that discriminated against him. Applying
Eggleston, supra, the Court finds that defendants Borgsmiller, Groves and
Gualdoni were provided adequate notice of the Title VII claims against
them both in Okoro's EEOC charge and his pro se complaint and thus were
properly and timely joined in this lawsuit.
As for the statute of limitations issues, regarding plaintiff's §
1981 and § 1983 claims, the Court finds that May 8, 1985 was when
limitations began to run. With respect to § 1983 claims, the Seventh
Circuit has held that a plaintiff whose cause of action accrued before
Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 105 S.Ct. 1938, 85 L.Ed.2d 254 (1985),
April 17, 1985, must file suit within the shorter period of either five
years from the date his action accrued or two years after Wilson. Anton
v. Lehpamer, 787 F.2d 1141, 1146 (7th Cir. 1986).
In the case at bar, plaintiff's cause of action accrued May 8, 1985,
and thus being post-Wilson, Illinois' two year statute of limitations
applies. Therefore, Okoro would had to have filed his complaint by May 9,
1987. This he did not do. Since his pro se complaint was not filed until
August 20, 1987, and his First Amended Complaint was not filed until
February 9, 1988, the Court holds that plaintiff's § 1983 claims
against all defendants are barred by the statute of limitations.
With respect to the § 1981 claims, the Court agrees with
plaintiff, especially in light of Anton, supra, that the rule of Anton
would also apply to these claims. See Vargas v. Salvation Army,
649 F. Supp. 763, 767 (N.D.Ill. 1986). The Supreme Court, in Goodman v.
Lukens Steel Co., ___ U.S. ___, 107 S.Ct. 2617, 96 L.Ed.2d 572 (1987),
extended the rule of Wilson to § 1981 claims. Goodman was decided
June 19, 1987, therefore Okoro had to file his § 1981 claim within
the shorter period of five years from May 8, 1985, or two years from June
19, 1987. Plaintiff first raised his § 1981 claims in his First
Amended Complaint filed February 9, 1988, and therefore was within the
shorter of the two periods which would end June 20. 1989. For these
reasons the Court concludes that plaintiff's § 1981 claims against
all defendants are not barred by the statute of limitations.
Accordingly, the Jackson County Defendants' Motion (Document No. 16) is
hereby DENIED in its entirety and the Nursing Home Defendants' Motion
(Document No. 18) is DENIED as to those parts relating to the Title VII
and § 1981 claims and GRANTED as to the § 1983 claims.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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