IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS EASTERN DIVISION
August 23, 2007
JOSEPH JESSE CRUZ, PLAINTIFF,
HARRIS N.A., DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Milton I. Shadur Senior United States District Judge
Joseph Jesse Cruz ("Cruz"), represented by a lawyer with extensive experience in the area of actionable employment discrimination, has filed this action complaining of asserted sex-based discrimination by Harris N.A. ("Harris"). Because Cruz's allegations triggered this Court's recollection of a Seventh Circuit decision that took a diametrically opposite view of the viability of a claim predicated on the ground asserted by Cruz, this Court issued a sua sponte August 17, 2007 memorandum order ("Order") that cited and quoted from Preston v. Wis. Health Fund, 397 F.3d 539, 541 (7th Cir. 2005), directing Cruz's counsel to address that subject with a responsive filing on or before August 28.
Cruz's counsel has done so, and her response is thoughtful (no surprise, that)--perhaps thoughtful enough to cause our Court of Appeals to take a fresh look at what was said and held in Preston. But district judges are of course bound by the teachings of our Court of Appeals whether or not they might reach the same conclusion if they were writing on a clean slate, and this Court finds the response's efforts to distinguish Cruz's case from that found unsustainable in Preston really amount to asserting distinctions without a difference--a legal difference, that is.
For example, Preston found the absence of sex discrimination in an identical situation, on the premise that a male supervisor's favoritism toward a female subordinate because of their romantic relationship had the potential to injure all other subordinates--whether male or female. That being true, Cruz's assertion that he has been damaged as "the only comparable male employee not engaged in the relationship" (Response at 1) does not call the Preston reasoning or holding into question.
Essentially Cruz has pleaded himself out of court (see, e.g., such cases as Lekas v. Briley, 405 F.3d 602, 613-14 (7th Cir. 2005)). Because the flaw identified in the Order and reconfirmed here is incapable of cure, this Court dismisses both the Complaint and this action. That will enable Cruz, if he and his counsel so choose, to take the matter upstairs (both literally and figuratively) to challenge the state of the law as announced in Preston.
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