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DURKIN v. CITY OF CHICAGO

April 26, 2002

KATHY DURKIN, PLAINTIFF,
V.
CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Elaine E. Bucklo, United States District Judge:

        MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Kathy Durkin sues the City of Chicago for equal protection violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. The City moves for summary judgment, which I grant.

I.

In 1999, Kathy Durkin entered the Chicago Police Academy ("the Academy") as a probationary police officer ("PPO"). She was a successful recruit in all areas of her training except for firearms training. Chicago Police Department ("CPD") recruits were required to pass a "Mandatory Firearms Training for Peace Officers," prescribed by the Illinois Police Training Act, with a score of 70 percent or above. Although there was no written policy limiting the number of attempts, Assistant Deputy Superintendent Charles Roberts, who ran the Academy, had established and enforced a policy of allowing recruits only four attempts to qualify, and Durkin signed an acknowledgment that she would receive only four attempts to qualify.

Durkin had an acrimonious relationship with two of her firearms instructors. Officer Nick Pappas swore at her and yelled obscenities at her, and before her first attempt to qualify, Pappas kicked Durkin to correct her stance while she was holding a loaded gun. Durkin admits that she had difficulty with shooting, but she says it is because she received inadequate instruction and because she was harassed. For example, the first time she fired a shotgun, her instructor refused to tell her how to hold it, so she was knocked over and badly bruised because she held the weapon incorrectly.

After her third failure, Durkin was assigned to twenty hours of one-on-one remedial training with Officer James Peck. During her training, Peck refused to give any verbal instruction to Durkin, and often made her stand, sometimes for as along as forty minutes, in a two-by-two foot square taped on the floor at the shooting range office. Although the box was a training tool, where recruits were supposed to stand and wait for recognition by a superior officer, Durkin says that Peck used it as a "bad girl" box and made her stand there as punishment, and would yell "Did you move, Durkin? Did you fucking move?"

Peck swore frequently at Durkin, who testified that she was unaccustomed to coarse language. Peck referred to women as "broads," "fucking broads," and "cunts" in her presence, and asked her once "who did you fuck to get that [college] degree?" He told her she had a tiny brain, and when she finally shot a passing score in a practice round, he said that he "could teach a fucking monkey to shoot." When Durkin told her husband, Patrick Durkin, who was also a CPD officer, that she was unhappy with the scheduling of her training, he dropped by the firing range to talk to Peck. Peck said to him, "You have a real blond on your hands. Is she that stupid at home?" At their next training session, Peck told Durkin that she had "pulled out her witch bag" and said "so I hear you told your husband that you're not going to fuck him unless he came down here and talked to me." After her father died, Peck said that "his fucking father died too, get over it" and told her to "move on."

Durkin said that she "complained to virtually anyone who would listen," including her classmates, her homeroom instructor, Lieutenant Samuel Christian, Assistant Deputy Superintendent Roberts, and Deputy Superintendent Jeanne Clark. Her husband wrote a letter to Superintendent of Police Terry Hillard. Most of her complaints, however, dealt with general harassment and poor teaching methods.

When Durkin made her fourth attempt to pass the firearms qualification, on September 7, 1999, she requested permission from Lt. Christian, the Commanding Officer for Recruit Training, to fire a practice round. Lt. Christian denied the request for a practice round, and Durkin shot a passing score of 72 percent. Christian then told her that it was only a practice round and did not count. He made her shoot again to qualify. She only scored 66 percent, so she failed to qualify on her fourth try. She testified that, before she shot the first round, she and Christian argued back and forth about whether she was going to have a practice round.

Assistant Deputy Superintendent Roberts recommended terminating Durkin for failure to qualify in four attempts. On September 9, 1999, Durkin met with Deputy Superintendent Clark, and she complained about her training with Peck. She also told Clark about two of Peck's more egregious comments, and Clark filed a complaint register, which was forwarded to the Internal Affairs Division of the CPD. Instead of firing Durkin, Clark offered her forty more hours of off-site training in Mattoon, Illinois, and told her that if she passed in Mattoon, she would be "done." She passed twice in Mattoon, and received a State of Illinois certificate of completion for forty hours of firearms training, but Lt. Christian refused to accept the scores and made her retake the test, with no advance notice, at the Academy in Chicago. When she took the test again, she failed, and was ultimately discharged. She sues the City for sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation under Title VII and for equal protection violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

II.

Summary judgment is proper when the record "show[s] 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." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, I must construe all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable and justifiable inferences in her favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find ...


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