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Duda v. Board of Education of Franklin Park Public School District No. 84

January 16, 1998

JOHN DUDA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

BOARD OF EDUCATION OF FRANKLIN PARK PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 84, JOHN BARRY, DAN PIETRINI, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.

No. 96 C 8481--Charles P. Kocoras, Judge.

Before HARLINGTON WOOD, JR., RIPPLE and DIANE P. WOOD, Circuit Judges.

RIPPLE, Circuit Judge.

ARGUED DECEMBER 3, 1997

DECIDED JANUARY 16, 1998

John Duda filed a complaint against his employer, the Board of Education of Franklin Park Public School District No. 84 ("School District"), and certain administrative and custodial employees of the School District. The complaint alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983, violations of his constitutional right to privacy. The district court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint. For the reasons set forth in the following opinion, we reverse the judgment of the district court and remand for further proceedings.

I. BACKGROUND

A. The Allegations of the Complaint

This case is before the court on appeal from the district court's grant of judgment on the pleadings. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). In reviewing the district court's ruling, therefore, we must take the allegations in the pleadings as true.

Prior to this litigation, John Duda had been a night custodian at the junior high school for eight years. The defendants knew that he had been diagnosed by a psychiatrist as a manic depressive with bipolar disorder and as a recovering alcoholic; they knew as well that he took medication to stabilize his depressive condition. On his work breaks, when Mr. Duda felt anxious or depressed, he often would write private thoughts in his diary. One night his co-workers on the custodial staff seized the diary and read his personal thoughts. Then they copied pages of the diary and gave them to the junior high school principal and other administrators and coworkers. *fn1 When the School District officials read Mr. Duda's diary, they told him to leave the school premises until he received a "clean bill of health" from his doctor. That same day Mr. Duda saw his psychiatrist and obtained a note from him indicating that he was stable and could return to work. When the school officials required further independent psychiatric evaluation, Mr. Duda submitted the evaluations of two other psychiatrists indicating that he was stable, could return to work and was no danger to anyone.

The defendants imposed other conditions on Mr. Duda before allowing him to return to work: He was required to continue attending Alcoholic's Anonymous and counseling and to keep taking his medication; moreover, he was to notify the Superintendent of the School District if any changes were made in his medication or counseling. In addition, the School District demanded that he refrain from all discussion about his diary with coworkers. Before he returned to work, Mr. Duda also was told that it would be tense and uncomfortable for him to return to the junior high school with his co-workers there. He was strongly encouraged to transfer to another school at which he would work alone. When he did transfer to the elementary school with no other custodians, Mr. Duda was told not to have conversations with others at the school. Finally, when he expressed an interest in applying for a better position, a bus driver/custodian opening, he was told not to apply because of the incident involving the diary.

Mr. Duda claims that the ADA was violated because the School District segregated him from others at the school and told him not to apply for the bus driver job. In addition, Mr. Duda brought claims under 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983, alleging that his constitutional rights were violated by the unreasonable search and seizure of his diary and the invasion of his privacy by the reading of his diary. He also alleged supplemental state claims grounded in the same actions of the defendants.

B. The Decision of the District Court

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint or, in the alternative, to strike the claim for punitive damages. The district court ordered Mr. Duda to answer that motion. Instead of answering the pending motion, however, Mr. Duda filed a first amended complaint and a motion for leave to file it. The district court denied the motion to file the amended complaint, struck the amended complaint and gave Mr. Duda an additional 15 days in which to reply to the pending motion to dismiss. Mr. Duda then replied to the motion to dismiss. Notably, although he addressed the substance of the motion, he also requested specifically that the court grant him leave to amend the complaint if the court were to determine that the allegations ...


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