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Purvis v. Ribas

February 6, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael M. Mihm United States District Judge


Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment by Defendants Michael and Marylynn Ribas. For the reasons set forth below, the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [#62] is GRANTED.


This Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, as the parties are of diverse citizenship, and the matter in controversy exceeds $75,000.00.


As the Court has previously stated on more than one occasion, this litigation arises out of an unfortunate series of events. The Plaintiff, Gina Purvis ("Purvis"), was a tenured Biology teacher at Hall High School ("Hall") in Spring Valley, Illinois. The tale begins back in the Spring of 2004 when Purvis and Mickey Ribas ("Mickey"), who was then her15-year-old student, became the subject of rumors that there was a sexual relationship between them. When questioned by Hall Principal Patricia Lunn ("Lunn"), both Purvis and Mickey denied the rumors.

As the rumors continued into the Fall, Lunn and Daniel Oest ("Oest"), Hall's Superintendent, determined that Oest and Gary Vicini ("Vicini"), Hall's Dean of Students and head football and track coach, should investigate. This would sound like a good plan, except for the fact that Oest was not informed that Purvis had previously reported Vicini to Lunn for his alleged sexual harassment of a female student the year before. From this, it would not be difficult to infer that Vicini may not have been the most objective investigator for this particular assignment.

On November 10, 2004, Oest and Vicini met with Mickey. Mickey denied any sexual relationship with Purvis. During the criminal trial, Mickey testified that in response to his denials on November 10, 2004, Vicini told him that he would be in trouble if he didn't say the story was true and threatened him with expulsion or jail if he persisted in denying the existence of a sexual relationship with Purvis. Mickey changed his story and told them that he had sex with Purvis on several occasions. Oest then called Chief Douglas Bernabei ("Bernabei") of the Spring Valley Police Department to report the allegations of sexual abuse against Purvis. Bernabei met with Mickey that afternoon and notified DCFS of the allegations of sexual abuse.

Beginning on November 10, 2004, Purvis was investigated for sexual assault against Mickey. She was indicted by a grand jury and arrested on December 15, 2004. After initially being suspended by the School Board with pay pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings, Purvis was subsequently terminated. On December 20, 2005, Purvis and the school district reached a settlement whereby she agreed to voluntarily resign her employment in exchange for the sum of $43,000. On October 31, 2005, at the conclusion of a six-day bench trial, Purvis was acquitted of all charges.

Purvis brings this suit against Mickey, as well as his parents, Michael and Marylynn Ribas (the "Ribases"), alleging: (1) a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress against Mickey and his parents; (2) a claim of defamation per se against Mickey; and (3) a claim of invasion of privacy against Mickey. The Ribases have now moved for summary judgment on the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim asserted against them; the Motion is not brought on behalf of Mickey. The matter is now fully briefed, and this Order follows.


Summary judgment should be granted where "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The moving party has the responsibility of informing the Court of portions of the record or affidavits that demonstrate the absence of a triable issue. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The moving party may meet its burden of showing an absence of disputed material facts by demonstrating "that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Cain v. Lane, 857 F.2d 1139, 1142 (7th Cir. 1988).

If the moving party meets its burden, the non-moving party then has the burden of presenting specific facts to show that there is a genuine issue of material fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e) requires the non-moving party to go beyond the pleadings and produce evidence of a genuine issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. Nevertheless, this Court must "view the record and all inferences drawn from it in the light most favorable to the [non-moving party]." Holland v. Jefferson Nat. Life Ins. Co., 883 F.2d 1307, 1312 (7th Cir. 1989). Summary judgment will be denied where a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Hedberg v. Indiana Bell Tel. Co., 47 F.3d 928, 931 (7th Cir. 1995).

In order to state a claim for IIED, the plaintiff must show: (1) the defendant's conduct was extreme and outrageous; (2) the defendant either intended to inflict severe emotional distress or knew that there was a high probability that his conduct would do so; and (3) the defendant's conduct actually caused severe emotional distress. Graham v. Commonwealth Edison Co. 318 Ill.App.3d 736, 745, 742 N.E.2d 858, 866 (1st Dist. 2000); Lewis v. School District #70, 523 F.3d 730, 746 (7th Cir. 2008). To be actionable, "the distress suffered must be such that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it." Harris v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n of Chicago, 129 Ill.App.3d 978, 981, 473 N.E.2d 457 (1st Dist. 1984). The tort does ...

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