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Gripper v. City of Springfield

April 13, 2006

SARAH GRIPPER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, U.S. District Judge

OPINION

The Plaintiff's complaint includes claims for racial discrimination and retaliation, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983.

Pending before the Court is the Plaintiff's motion for sanctions. Sanctions against the City of Springfield are denied.

I.

Plaintiff Sarah Gripper has filed a motion for sanctions against Defendant City of Springfield, Illinois. In support of her motion, the Plaintiff alleges that she propounded the following interrogatory to the City:

4. Please set forth the date(s) on which Plaintiff made complaints about racial treatment and/or comments to an employee or former employee of the Defendant, the nature and particulars of the complaint, to whom the complaint was made, and the response made or action taken, if any, by Defendant to such complaints.

The Plaintiff states that on April 5, 2005, the City submitted the following response to the interrogatory:

None. Plaintiff never made any complaint about racial treatment and/or comments to any employee or former employee of Defendant.

The response was signed by counsel on behalf of the City and verified under oath by Larry Selinger, the City's Director of Human Resources. The Plaintiff claims that this response was false and violates Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 11, 26 and 37.

The Plaintiff alleges that in his deposition taken on February 21, 2006, Richard Berning, a former employee of the City and the Plaintiff's former supervisor, testified under oath that the Plaintiff made a complaint to him about racial comments made to her by Matt Hitzemann. Berning also testified that the Plaintiff's complaint to him was known to both Larry Selinger and Todd Renfrow, with whom he met regarding the complaint. The Plaintiff contends that the City had the opportunity to correct its false answer when it sent its supplemental answers to interrogatories on September 9, 2005 and its corrected supplemental answers to interrogatories on September 12, 2005, but it failed to do so.

The Plaintiff alleges that it was only after Berning testified that the City was forced to correct its false answer. The Plaintiff notes that it was on February 22, 2006, one day after Berning's deposition, that the City sent its amended answers to interrogatories and "finally told the truth and admitted that Plaintiff had made racial complaints to her supervisor."

The Plaintiff alleges there is no dispute that Larry Selinger knew that the response was false at the time he verified it. The Plaintiff notes that Berning's testimony confirms that he had discussed her complaint with Selinger in a meeting in Selinger's office, at which Todd Renfrow was present. She contends, therefore, that Selinger knew the response to the interrogatory was not true at the time he verified the response.

II.

In its response, the City first alleges that the Plaintiff's memorandum fails to meet the requirements of Local Rule 7.1(B)(1), in that she fails to identify any supporting legal authority. The City claims that if the Plaintiff is seeking Rule 11 sanctions, then the motion has not been properly served. The City notes that a motion under Rule 11(c)(1)(A) must first be served upon the other party. It may then be filed with the Court within 21 days if the challenged document is not corrected or withdrawn. The City contends that the reason for the Plaintiff's refusal to follow the procedures of Rule 11 is apparent. Specifically, ...


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