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CONNELLY-GPM v. DONEGAN

United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois


August 1, 2003

CONNELLY-GPM
v.
DONEGAN

The opinion of the court was delivered by: James Zagel, District Judge

Plaintiff alleges that defendant embezzled approximately $300,000 from plaintiff by forging checks. In response to these allegations, defendant asserts her privilege against self-incrimination pursuant to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Defendant also asserts that it is impossible for her to pay the amount sought by plaintiff. Plaintiff now seeks summary judgment and requests judgment in the amount of $307,297.15 in compensatory damages and $600,000 in punitive damages plus costs.

In a civil proceeding, the Fifth Amendment does not shield a defendant from adverse inferences when the defendant fails to come forward with evidence to rebut a plaintiff's allegations. Baxter v. Palmigiano, 425 U.S. 308, 318 (1976). Defendant's inability to pay plaintiff should she lose this case also does not shield her from liability.

However, there is a criminal proceeding currently pending in front of Judge Conlon, and defendant asks that I stay this civil proceeding until the criminal matter is resolved. I grant this request.

Defendant also requests that I prohibit Stephen M. Klein from speaking to individuals other than his attorney about the case and also prohibit Mr. Klein from acting inappropriately towards defendant and her daughters. Mr. Klein, who is president of plaintiff company, is permitted to talk about the case to whomever he chooses. There is no gag order imposed on the civil and criminal proceedings. I have read the newspaper articles submitted by defendant, and it appears that Mr. Klein discussed his allegations with the press, and the articles make it clear his statements represent only his version of the facts, nothing more. Therefore, I deny defendant's request to prohibit Mr. Klein from talking about the case. I am granting defendant's request to prohibit Mr. Klein from having any personal contact with defendant or her family. If defendant's allegations are true, then Mr. Klein has acted very inappropriately, and such behavior must cease immediately.

Finally, defendant requests that I remove certain individuals from the case. However, none of the individuals are named as defendants and therefore, these individuals are not in the case. If defendant objects to subpoenas served upon these individuals, she may raise the issue before the court by a motion to quash the subpoena.

Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is ENTERED AND CONTINUED until resolution of the criminal proceeding in front of Judge Conlon. Defendant's motion to bar Mr. Klein from speaking about the case is DENIED. Defendant's motion to bar Mr. Klein from contacting defendant and her family is GRANTED, and Mr. Klein is ordered not to have any personal contact with defendant and her family. Defendant's motion to remove certain individuals from the case is DENIED.

20030801

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