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Trigillo v. Snyder

May 10, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jeanne E. Scott, U.S. District Judge


This matter comes before the Court on Defendants Donald N. Snyder, George DeTella, Walter A. Small and Nicholas A. Little's Motion for Summary Judgment (d/e 11). The Plaintiff Tracey Trigillo worked for the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) until November 15, 2001. At that time, her term appointment was not renewed. The Defendants were her superiors at IDOC. She alleges that the Defendants retaliated against her by recommending against renewing her term appointment because she spoke out on matters of public concern regarding improprieties in the IDOC procurement process. She brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of her First Amendment rights. Complaint (d/e 1), (Counts I-IV).

She also brings supplemental state law claims for tortious interference with her employment relationship (Counts V-VIII) and for violation of § 19(c) of the Illinois Personnel Code. 20 ILCS 415/19(c) (Counts IX-XII). After this case was filed, the Illinois Supreme Court determined that § 19(c) does not authorize a private cause of action as a remedy for its violation. Metzger v. DaRosa, 209 Ill.2d 30, 805 N.E.2d 1165 (Ill. 2004). The § 19(c) claims, Counts IX-XII, are therefore dismissed. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Trigillo's § 1983 claims and dismisses the state tortious interference claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.


Trigillo began working for the state of Illinois in 1993.*fn1 She is a licensed attorney. In 1999, she was working for the Illinois State Police (ISP). She contacted Robert Powers, an attorney in the Governor's office, to request a transfer to a different agency. Powers contacted Defendant Donald Snyder, then Director of IDOC. He informed Snyder that Trigillo would be transferred to IDOC. Snyder took this as a directive from the Governor's office to hire Trigillo.

Trigillo states in her deposition that she interviewed with Carl Becker of IDOC. Becker was IDOC Deputy Director of Finance and Administration. Powers and Snyder were present at the interview. During this interview, Trigillo was offered the position of State Purchasing Officer (SPO) for IDOC. Each agency had a person designated as its SPO. The SPO was responsible for exercising purchasing authority under the Illinois Procurement Code (Code). 30 ILCS 500/1-15.105. The Director of Central Management Services (CMS) was the Chief Purchasing Officer (CPO), responsible for purchasing matters governed by the Code, except in the areas of construction, transportation, and education. 30 ILCS 500/1-15.15.

Becker was then the SPO for IDOC. He told her in the interview that she would be in training to be SPO:

He said you'll be trained to be the state purchasing officer, you'll become that. And he was currently that state purchasing officer. And then he explained to me that I would be in charge of a procurement, and that my job was to help implement the Procurement Code throughout the agency and to talk with the Governor's office, Ben Bagby, and the persons at CMS who were responsible for procurements and help make some sense of some of the stuff and help the comptroller's office. He named several places that I would be communicating with to, you know, work out whatever procurement issues came up for the agency.

Motion for Summary Judgment and Supporting Brief (d/e 11) (Defendants' Motion), Exhibit A, Deposition of Tracey Trigillo (Trigillo Deposition) at 17.*fn2

Trigillo was interested in the position. She was promised a 15 percent raise. She wanted to make sure she would not lose any of her fringe benefits if she transferred from ISP to IDOC. The ISP paid $700 worth of her dues to professional organizations, paid her law license fees and paid her expenses to attend professional conferences. She was told that IDOC would provide her with the same fringe benefits. Id. at 16-17. She ultimately agreed to the transfer.

On May 5, 1999, the Governor's office approved a personnel action request that transferred Trigillo to IDOC. Defendants' Motion, Exhibit 1. At that time she was in the middle of a four-year term appointment. Persons on term appointments have no guarantee of renewal at the end of the term. She remained on the same term appointment which expired on November 15, 2001.

Trigillo's original job description with IDOC, dated April 16, 1999, described her position as a Senior Public Service Administrator. The position was located in the Finance and Administration Division, Management and Budget Section, Procurement/Inventory Unit. Defendants' Motion, Exhibit 2A. The description set forth her primary duties as follows:

Under administrative direction of the Sr. Public Service Adm., controls purchasing, contracts, real estate leasing, commodity and property inventories; establishes, implements and interprets policies and procedures, laws and rules and regulations regarding procurement and inventory; ensures compliance to State Purchasing Act, Property Control Act, CUSAS and other regulations; evaluates program and supervises and/or participates in studies; advises management on procurement and inventory issues and acts as primary liaison with the Department of Central Management Services and the Department's legal services in purchasing, contracts, real estate leasing and inventory matters; supervises staff.

Id. The job description further stated that the holder of the position, "Establishes, implements and interprets policies and procedures; directs and administers fiscal procedures through constant review of current procedures." Id. The position required the holder to be a licensed attorney. The job description was revised in January 2000, but the revisions did not change the description of the duties of the position. Defendants' Motion, Exhibit 2. Neither description indicated that the holder of the position would be the SPO for IDOC.

When Trigillo came to IDOC on May 16, 1999, she started working for Becker. She was the Manager of Purchasing for IDOC. She reported directly to Becker. Becker also gave her the additional title of State Purchasing Officer Designee. He told her that she would become the SPO when he left. Trigillo and her staff reviewed contracts and procurements to make sure that the Code was being followed and transactions were being done properly. She and her staff reviewed IDOC procurement directives to make sure they were current and complied with the new Code. Trigillo Deposition at 82. She advised the relevant persons at IDOC when contracts should be rebid rather than extended. Id. at 102-03. She made recommendations on how the Code should be followed and how a particular procurement should be done. She sometimes explained how the Code should be applied. Id. at 126. As part of her duties, she also often spoke with individuals at CMS about procurement issues. See Memorandum of the Plaintiff, Tracey Trigillo, in Opposition to the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (d/e 15, 16, & 17) (Plaintiff's Response), Exhibit 1, Affidavit of Tracey Trigillo, ¶ 83. In particular, she often communicated with Ben Bagby and Jay Wavering. Bagby was an attorney at CMS. Wavering was the Assistant Chief Purchasing Officer. Both men regularly fielded questions from state agencies regarding procurement issues.

When she arrived at IDOC, she did not receive the promised compensation package. IDOC gave her a 10 percent raise, rather than the promised 15 percent, and would not pay her professional dues or law license fees. IDOC did pay for the cost of attending one professional conference.

In February 2000, Defendant Walter A. (Tony) Small took over Becker's position as Deputy Director. At the time that Small became Deputy Director, Defendant Nicholas Little was Chief Fiscal Officer for IDOC. He was also a Senior Public Service Administrator. Trigillo was still Manager of Procurement. Small had Trigillo report to Little, and Little reported to Small.

Shortly before Small became Deputy Director, Trigillo spoke to William Ghesquire, a legal counsel in the Governor's office about her position. Ghesquire told her that Small would become the Deputy Director and SPO:

Uhm, Mr. Ghesquire again, for some reason he called me and told me Tony Small was going to be the deputy director or either that I was talking to him about a procurement issue and he mentioned that Tony Small would be our new deputy director and that he was going to be the SPO. And, you know, when Tony came in, that I should talk to him at some point about me being the SPO, you know. And once Tony got to know my work, something would probably happen. So when Tony got there, I went over and had a meeting with him and explained that stuff to him.

Trigillo Deposition at 42. Trigillo met with Small in the beginning of February 2000 to discuss her situation. During that conversation, she explained her duties to Small and her understanding that she would be the SPO. According to Trigillo:

[H]e didn't know if he was the SPO or not at the time. And so we talked about everything. And we had a conversation, and I explained to him that these other things were supposed to be paid, the licensing fees and all this other stuff. And I was told they would be.

Trigillo Deposition at 43. About a week later Small called Trigillo into his office for another conversation. At that time, Small told Trigillo that he was going to be the SPO:

And then about a week later Tony called me in his office. He was very sarcastic, and he said things to me such as I'm the state purchasing officer, the director wants me to be it. But he was --his tone was sarcastic, and he said things about the other things we discussed. He said, showed me a letter that the agency had sent out that they weren't going to pay anybody's dues, professional dues or whatever, they were going to examine them on a case by case basis kind of thing. And he said didn't you get this letter? And I said, yeah, but I didn't think it applied to my situation because they agreed to pay those things. So but it was -- the tone had changed tremendously within that week when he called me back in.

Id. at 43-44.

In March or April 2000, a person on Trigillo's staff named Dave Dankoski spoke to her in the hallway, "so that everyone in the cubicles could all hear him." Id. at 49. Dankoski told Trigillo:

[The] Comguard [contract] was not properly bid and that they changed the scores, that they set up a show and tell kind of thing for scoring, judging; and that the guts of the electronic monitoring devices even fell out on the table, and they still got the contract. And he said he had copies of the documents in boxes behind his desk there in his office. And that my predecessor had gone through his office and taken things off his desk and other areas and burned them, but he still had those documents.

Id. Trigillo knew that staff members David Daily, Liz Hayes, and Patty Troxell overheard Dankoski. Id. at 50.

The next morning, Trigillo contacted the FBI to report what Dankoski had told her. She explained her motivations in her deposition:

Well, a duty as a citizen, a duty as chief of procurement, you know, as lawyers we're supposed to be keepers of the state's coffers. So I felt I had several duties. But I also didn't want to lose my law license over continuing a contract that maybe should or shouldn't have been done. And I had no way of knowing whether it should or not. I wasn't there originally. I don't know if anything Dave Dankoski said was true or false. Better to put it into proper hands and let them look at it and see.

Id. at 54.

Later that day, FBI agents appeared at IDOC offices to speak to Dankoski. Trigillo and Little were in a staff meeting at the time. The FBI started taking boxes out of Dankoski's work area. Little told Trigillo to interrupt the FBI agents. Trigillo interrupted the agents and asked them to meet with Small. The agents then met with Small, Little, Trigillo and Missy Stutler. Stutler was another IDOC Deputy Director. Id. at 58-60. After the meeting, Trigillo was instructed to walk the FBI agent out of the building. After she did so, Trigillo returned to Small's office. There was a meeting going on in his office behind closed doors. Trigillo was told to wait outside of the meeting for several minutes. When she was let in, Missy Stutler said to Trigillo, "[M]y, you were awfully ...

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