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Franzoni v. Hartmarx Corp.

August 08, 2002

LUCIANO FRANZONI, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
HARTMARX CORPORATION, A DELAWARE CORPORATION, M. WILE & CO., INC., A NEW YORK CORPORATION, AND HART SCHAFFNER & MARX, A NEW YORK CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 99 C 4898--Harry D. Leinenweber, Judge.

Before Manion, Kanne, and Williams, Circuit Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kanne, Circuit Judge.

ARGUED JANUARY 25, 2002

Plaintiff Luciano Franzoni brought suit against defendant Hartmarx Corporation and its wholly-owned subsidiaries M. Wile & Co. Inc. and Hart Schaffner & Marx ("HSM") for retaliatory discharge, re-taliatory transfer, and age discrimination pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. The district court granted judgment in favor of defendants, and we affirm.

I. History

The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted: Franzoni is a fashion designer who began working for HSM on November 18, 1968, conducting seminars, meetings, and trunk shows at which he would discuss HSM clothing. In late 1988, Hartmarx created a new clothing line using Franzoni's name, called Confezioni Riserva Luciano Franzoni (the "Franzoni" line). Hartmarx then transferred Franzoni from HSM to M. Wile & Co. Inc., d/b/a International Brand Apparel ("IBA"). The idea behind the Franzoni line was to create a style of clothing with an Italian name and personality. While at IBA, Franzoni's principal responsibilities consisted of the same type of work he had done at HSM, essentially promotion, although Franzoni also advised the Franzoni line designers regarding style, fabric, and color.

In September 1997, Franzoni requested a meeting with Homi Patel, the president and Chief Operating Officer of Hartmarx, in order to present Patel with a memorandum requesting additional compensation. During that meeting, Patel noted that Franzoni was seventy-one years of age and told Franzoni that he looked to be in his early sixties. Franzoni thanked Patel for the compliment, and Patel then explained to Franzoni that IBA was discontinuing the Franzoni line. Therefore, because Franzoni's only job at IBA was to promote and assist with the Franzoni line, there would no longer be a job for Franzoni once the line was discontinued. According to Franzoni, Patel stated that Franzoni would have to retire from IBA and suggested his thirtieth anniversary with the company--November 18, 1998--as an appropriate retirement date. Defendants concede that Patel and Franzoni discussed Franzoni's retirement, but contend that Patel and Franzoni mutually agreed on the retirement date. Both parties agree that Patel instructed Franzoni to negotiate his retirement package with Joseph Conti, an IBA executive.

Subsequent to the September 1997 meeting, Conti and Franzoni attempted to negotiate Franzoni's retirement package, while Franzoni continued to promote the Franzoni line. On April 27, 1998, Conti sent Franzoni a finalized version of the retirement package, which Franzoni refused to sign. In early June 1998, Franzoni told Conti that he had decided not to retire and that he had filed a charge of age discrimination with the EEOC, alleging that he was being forced to retire. On July 1, 1998, IBA again informed Franzoni that it planned to eliminate the Franzoni line and with it Franzoni's promotional position. Patel then requested that Kenneth Hoffman, the HSM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, find Franzoni a position at HSM, and Hoffman offered Franzoni a quality control position in HSM's factory in Des Plaines, Illinois (the "Des Plaines position"), which Franzoni accepted. Franzoni contends that the Des Plaines position was a demotion in retaliation for filing his complaint with the EEOC. While the parties dispute the working conditions at Franzoni's job at the Des Plaines facility, it is undisputed that the Des Plaines position required Franzoni to stand on his feet to work and that Franzoni's pay and benefits were identical to those he had received at IBA while promoting the Franzoni line.

On August 21, 1998, Franzoni left the Des Plaines facility before the end of his workday and went to the hospital, claiming that his feet hurt. That was his last day of work. On August 24, 1998, Franzoni's attorney sent HSM a letter from Franzoni's doctor stating that Franzoni could work in any capacity that did not require him to stand for extended periods. Franzoni's attorney then requested that HSM accommodate his needs and return him to work. On August 28, 1998, HSM placed Franzoni on medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), although Franzoni claims that HSM put him on FMLA leave involuntarily. On September 4, 1998 and October 10, 1998, Franzoni wrote to his supervisor indicating that the pain was still present, and on September 15, 1998, Franzoni filed a workers' compensation claim alleging that he had incurred "permanent" damage to his feet. *fn1 HSM's workers' compensation carrier conducted a routine investigation of Franzoni's physical condition, and at the conclusion of its investigation, the carrier sent to HSM a videotape made by its investigators. According to defendants, the videotape showed Franzoni taking a long walk and a shorter walk without any apparent pain or discomfort. Ronnie Robinson, HSM's senior vice president of human resources and administration, reviewed the videotape and concluded that Franzoni had lied in his letters that stated that he was unable to work. Subsequently, Robinson sent Franzoni a letter stating that Franzoni was terminated because he had made "false and misleading statements" about his medical condition.

Franzoni then filed a complaint in the Northern District of Illinois, alleging age discrimination and retaliation with respect to (1) his termination from the Des Plaines facility, (2) his "transfer" to the Des Plaines facility, and (3) the elimination of his position at IBA ("job elimination claim"). Defendants subsequently moved for summary judgment on all claims, which was granted by the district court as to Franzoni's termination and transfer claims but denied as to Franzoni's job elimination claim. The district court later granted defendants' motion to dismiss the elimination claim as moot under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and entered judgment in favor of defendants on all claims.

II. Analysis

We review the district court's grant of summary judgment de novo, viewing all of the facts and drawing all reasonable inferences therefrom in favor of the nonmoving party, Franzoni. See Cent. States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund v. White, 258 F.3d 636, 639 (7th Cir. 2001). We review the district court's decision to dismiss the claim as moot under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure de novo, and we "must accept the complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draw reasonable inferences from those allegations in the plaintiff 's favor." Transit Express, Inc. v. Ettinger, 246 F.3d 1018, 1023 (7th Cir. 2001). As discussed below, our conclusion that defendants lawfully terminated Franzoni from the Des Plaines facility renders his remaining claims moot because the ADEA provides no remedies to a plaintiff in Franzoni's unique situation. Therefore, we first turn to his termination from the Des Plaines facility.

A. Des Plaines ...


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