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KESSEL v. COOK COUNTY

May 2, 2003

KATHLEEN KESSEL, AND BEVERLY MEADOR, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
COOK COUNTY, COOK COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, EDWARD, KNIGHT, DAN ROMEO, AND JIM GRAYES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Defendants have moved for partial summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is proper when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, 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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A genuine issue of triable fact exists only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Pugh v. City of Attica, 259 F.3d 619, 625 (7th Cir. 2001) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)).

The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The party that bears the burden of proof on a particular issue, however, may not rest on its pleadings but must affirmatively demonstrate that there is a genuine issue of material fact. Id. at 324, 106 S.Ct. at 2553. A mere scintilla of evidence in support of the non-movant's position is insufficient. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252, 106 S.Ct. at 2512. A party will be successful in opposing summary judgment only if it presents "definite, competent evidence to rebut the motion." EEOC v. Roebuck & Co., 233 F.3d 432, 437 (7th Cir. 2000).

The Court "considers the evidentiary record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and draws all reasonable inferences in his favor." Lesch v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 282 F.3d 467, 471 (7th Cir. 2002). The Court accepts the non-moving party's version of any disputed facts but only if it is supported by relevant, admissible evidence. Bombard v. Fort Wayne Newspapers, Inc., 92 F.3d 560, 562 (7th Cir. 1996).

BACKGROUND

Kathleen Kessel joined the Cook County Sheriff's Department as an investigator in the Day Reporting Unit of the Department of Community Services and Intervention ("DCSI") in May 1995. (See R. 257-1, Pls.' L.R. 56.1(b)(3) Resp., ¶ 4.) Initially, Kessel worked as a caseload investigator in the Day Reporting Unit, but in September 1997, she moved to an assignment in the Monitoring Room of the Day Reporting Unit. (Id., ¶ 11.) Defendant Jim Grayes also moved to the Monitoring Room in September 1997. (Id., ¶ 10.) Beverly Meador joined the Cook County Sheriff's Department as an investigator in the Day Reporting Unit in September 1993. (Id., ¶ 5.)

Soon after she transferred to the Monitoring Room, Kessel began to experience difficulty with Grayes, who repeatedly used sexually suggestive and abusive language in her presence. (See R. 257-1, Pls.' L.R. 56.1(b)(3) Resp., ¶¶ 13-14.) In December 1998, Kessel complained in writing to her supervisor, Dan Romeo, who, in turn, reported Kessel's complaints to Edward Knight, the Deputy Director of the Day Reporting Unit. (Id., ¶ 14.) Romeo and Knight both attempted to counsel Grayes, who assured them that he would refrain from using inappropriate language and would treat Kessel with respect. (Id., ¶¶ 18, 20.)

Despite assurances to Romeo and Knight, Grayes apparently continued using sexually suggestive and abusive language with Kessel, Meador and others. In March 1999, Kessel complained in writing to the Department of Community Services and Intervention ("DCSI") regarding Grayes' behavior. (See R. 257-1, Pls,' L.R. 56.1(b)(3) Resp., ¶ 21.) Shortly thereafter, Kessel spoke with William Wallace, the Deputy Director of DCSI (Id., ¶ 23.) Wallace assured Kessel that her complaints would be handled, and she signed a statement that she did not wish to make a formal statement or file a complaint against any supervisor. (Id., ¶ 25.)

After the meeting with Wallace, Kessel was moved out of her office during the hours her shift overlapped with Grayes. (See R. 257-1, Pls.' L.R. 56.1(b)(3) Resp., ¶ 27.) Kessel stayed in different positions for a month or so before she gradually began to move back to her old office full-time . . . (Id.) Grayes, however, continued to use sexually suggestive and abusive language with Kessel, and in July 1999, she complained again in writing. (Id., ¶ 32.) This time, Romeo asked for written statements from various potential witnesses to Grayes' conduct. (Id., ¶ 33.) After receiving statements from various persons, Romeo informed Knight who requested in writing that DCSI conduct an investigation. (Id., ¶ 37.) DCSI concluded that there was insufficient evidence to substantiate Kessel's complaints but recommended that Knight counsel Grayes and transfer Kessel to some position where she need not interact with him. (Id., ¶ 38.)*fn1

On July 29, 1999, Kessel took emergency medical leave. (See R. 257-1, Pls. L.R. 56.1(b)(3) Resp., ¶ 40.) She contends that the hostile work environment forced her to do so and that her treating physicians have not released her to return to work. (Id.) Kessel subsequently filed a complaint with the Cook County Commission on Human Rights, the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). (Id., ¶¶ 3, 40.) Meador filed her own complaint with the EEOC and IDHR in May and June 2001. (Id., ¶ 3.)

ANALYSIS

I. COUNT ONE — PLAINTIFFS' TITLE ...


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