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KAUPAS v. VILLAGE OF UNIVERSITY PARK

August 29, 2003

FRED KAUPAS AND ROSANNE M. KAUPAS, AS INDIVIDUALS, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
VILLAGE OF UNIVERSITY PARK, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION; BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE VILLAGE OF UNIVERSITY PARK, A BODY POLITIC; VILLAGE MANAGER ELBERT SHAW, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY, POLICE CHIEF CRAIG MARTIN, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY; POLICE SERGEANT GREGORY BOX, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY; AND OTHER UNKNOWN CONSPIRATORS, DEFENDANTS



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On January 14, 2003, plaintiffs Fred Kaupas ("F. Kaupas") and Rosanne M. Kaupas ("R Kaupas") filed a seven-"claim" consolidated amended complaint against defendants Village of University Park ("Village"), Board of Trustees of the Village of University Park ("Board"), Elbert Shaw ("Shaw"), Craig Martin ("Martin"), and Gregory Box ("Box") alleging numerous reverse discrimination claims described in detail below.*fn1 On July 18, 2003, defendants moved, pursuant to [ Page 2]

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, for summary judgment. For the reasons explained below, defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

STATEMENT OF FACTS*fn2

Viewing all facts in the light most favorable to plaintiffs and construing all ambiguities in their favor, in January 2001, Board amended a Village ordinance reducing the number of deputy chief of police positions from two to one. At this time, F. Kaupas, a white male, was the deputy chief of police. The acting chief at the time (and now current chief), Martin, is a black male. Village manager Shaw and officer (now sergeant) Box also are black males. R. Kaupas is a white female and worked for Village as a civilian employee in the police department.

On March 16, 2001, Martin ordered F. Kaupas to provide Martin with a list of all pending investigations and thereafter provide him with a weekly status report. This weekly status report had [ Page 3]

not been previously requested of F. Kaupas by any prior police chief. Martin did not inquire about the data until December 2001.

On June 6, 2001, Shaw and Martin convened a mandatory meeting of all police department personnel to address morale and training issues. At the time of the meeting, approximately half of the full time officers were white and half black. Box and a couple of other black officers had been drinking prior to attending the meeting. The meeting became heated with black officers saving such things as "us vs. them, " "our turn to shine, " "I get so mad I'd cap people except I would go to jail, " and "more of us than there are of them now." (Pls.' Mem. at 4.*fn3) Immediately after the meeting, Box said, "these white mother fuckers have to go." (Defs.' Stmt. of Facts ¶ 42.) Neither Shaw nor Martin, who both presided over the meeting, interceded to control such comments or admonished any officers. The following day, at a meeting of the Board of Police and Fire Commissioners, chairperson Gloria Barnett-Brookins ("Barnett-Brookings") said that "we are not going to hire any more white boys." (Pls.' Mem. at 4.)

After the June 6 department meeting, on June 20, R. Kaupas sent a letter of complaint signed by her and six other department members to Martin. She outlined what happened at the meeting and requested that Martin "take appropriate action to this problem immediately." (Pls.' Mem. at 5.) About two-and-a-half weeks later, Village Finance Direct Steven Rosenquist ("Rosenquist") inquired of Shaw as to whether F. Kaupas was entitled to overtime pay. Shaw determined that F. Kaupas was [ Page 4]

an exempt employee and directed that he repay prior overtime payments to Village. F. Kaupas maintained that former police chief Thomas Leonard ("Leonard") had approved his overtime in the past. Shaw claims that Leonard had never authorized paid overtime for F. Kaupas. (Defs.' Stmt of Facts ¶ 65.) However, as plaintiffs point out, Leonard testified that the policy had been that deputy chiefs had the discretion to take financial compensation or compensatory time for any overtime worked. (Pls.' Mem. at 6.) Thereafter, because F. Kaupas had told Shaw that Leonard had authorized overtime (which Shaw believed was a lie), Shaw demoted F. Kaupas to sergeant and promoted Mel Easley ("Easley"), a black male, to deputy chief.*fn4 [ Page 5]

F. Kaupas filed a complaint with the Illinois Labor Board regarding the overtime pay dispute. After receiving the complaint, Shaw distributed it along with a cover memorandum to all employees*fn5 emphasizing that racial and sexual discrimination and harassment would not be tolerated and requesting employees to report prior instances of racial or sexual harassment to him. Within the next week, seven police department employees sent memos to Shaw. Because he believed the memos were false and baseless, Martin did not investigate any of the incidents set forth in the memos. In addition, Shaw believed they lacked merit and took no further action.

R. Kaupas saw two co-workers reading the memo from Shaw and F. Kaupas's complaint. She became upset and had a confrontation with Martin. Martin heard her mumble "mother fucker" under her breath. As a result, Martin suspended R. Kaupas for two days without pay. R. Kaupas denies making this comment.

On September 6, 2001, plaintiffs attended a Monee Township meeting to vote on a referendum. Plaintiffs drove F. Kaupas's departmental take-home vehicle, which Village had allowed F. Kaupas to use since approximately 1997 or 1998. Village's employee manual stated that "[a]lthough Village employees are encouraged to participate in political activities, they may not do so while they are on duty nor may they use their position or Village resources for political purposes." (Defs.' Stint, of Facts ¶ 106.) Shaw admitted that it was not deemed politically motivated abuse to vote. In response to trustees' complaints about F. Kaupas driving his take-home vehicle to vote, Shaw amended Village's take-home vehicle policy. Under the new policy, employees who were not residents of Village, including F. Kaupas, were not allowed to use a Village vehicle but instead were [ Page 6]

to use their personal vehicles and then be reimbursed for mileage by Village. In his deposition, Shaw stated that he believed removing F. Kaupas's vehicle violated F. Kaupas's First Amendment free speech rights. (Defs.' Stmt. of Facts ¶ Ill.) After a grievance was filed on F. Kaupas's behalf, Shaw reinstated F. Kaupas's take-home vehicle privileges.

In December 2001, days after Village received R. Kaupas's EEOC complaint, Martin, perhaps upon a request from Shaw for information, instructed F. Kaupas to prepare a statistical report on certain investigations covering the years 1999, 2000, and 2001, Shaw stated at his deposition that the request for this data "doesn't make any sense to me." (Pls.' Mem. at 12.) It took F. Kaupas eighty hours to complete the data collection manually, even though such information was readily available on the computer.

On January 2, 2002, F. Kaupas submitted his letter of resignation, effective July 15, 2002. In May, Martin ordered F. Kaupas, along with two other officers, to inventory the evidence locker. At some point in the spring, Box stated that "it's our time to shine. Fred's got to go. I'm going to get his job." (Defs.' Stmt. of Facts ¶ 143.) After F. Kaupas's retirement, Box was promoted to head of the investigations division. A few months prior to his retirement, Village removed F. Kaupas's name placard from his door. By memorandum dated May 31, 2002, F. Kaupas was placed on administrative leave effective June 1 and was paid through his retirement. Shaw made the decision to place F. Kaupas on administrative leave because Shaw believed that F. Kaupas was hostile to the Village for what the Village had done to him.

Finally, on June 4, 2002, R. Kaupas received a pornographic e-mail from Box. Attached to the e-mail was a video which depicted a naked man defecating in a naked woman's mouth. The video was approximately one minute in length. After viewing the video once, R. Kaupas deleted it [ Page 7]

She finished work that day but never returned. She tendered her resignation a few days later. Her resignation letter did not mention the e-mail from Box.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under Rule 56(c), summary judgment is proper "if 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). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the evidence of the nonmovants must be believed and all justifiable inferences must be drawn in the nonmovants' favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby. Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). This court's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. A party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue, however, may not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). As stated above, it is not the function of this court to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment; the nonmoving party must identify with reasonable particularity the evidence upon which that party relies. Bombard v. Fort Wayne Newspapers. Inc., 92 F.3d 560, 562 (7th Cir. 1996). The evidence relied upon must be competent evidence of a type otherwise admissible at trial. Id. [ Page 8]

ANALYSIS*fn6

In this section of the opinion, this court will analyze the claims it has construed from plaintiffs' consolidated amended complaint. Plaintiffs' unclear allegations have unnecessarily complicated this task. This court had difficulty determining which plaintiff (or both) was suing which defendant (or defendants) on what claim. Moreover, in their summary judgment materials, defendants and especially plaintiffs address a few of the claims in such a cursory way that this court wonders if they are really claims at issue at all. Nonetheless, this court will address what appears to be all of the claims. Unless otherwise noted, both F. Kaupas and R. Kaupas advance the claim under discussion.

I. Count I Section 1983 Claims

A. Section 1983 Claims Against Village and Board

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiffs advance claims against Village; Board; and Shaw, Martin, and Box in their individual and official capacities. An official capacity claim against a governmental official is the same as a claim against the governmental entity. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165-66(1985). Thus, plaintiffs' claims against Shaw, Martin, and Box in their official capacities are actually claims against Village. Moreover, plaintiffs' claims against the Board are [ Page 9]

actually claims against Village itself. There is no indication that plaintiffs seek to hold Board members liable ...


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