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Pratt v. McAnarney

April 24, 2009

BONNIE PRATT AND ROOSEVELT PRATT, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
JUDY MCANARNEY, OFFICE OF THE COMPTROLLER, STATE OF ILLINOIS, KARLA GRIGSBY, OFFICE OF THE COMPTROLLER, STATE OF ILLINOIS, AND JEROME KING, DEFENDANTS.



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

OPINION

This matter is before the Court on three separate Motions filed by Defendants: (1) Defendants Judy McAnarney's and Karla Grigsby's Motion to Dismiss (d/e 10); (2) Defendant Jerome King's Motion to Dismiss Counts IX and X of Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint (d/e 14); and (3) Defendant McAnarney's Motion to Strike (d/e 12). For the reasons stated below, all three Motions are allowed.

FACTS

According to the Amended Complaint (d/e 4), Plaintiffs Bonnie and Roosevelt Pratt are a married couple living in Springfield, Illinois.*fn1 Bonnie worked at the Illinois Office of the Comptroller until she was terminated July 6, 2007. The Pratts have brought suit against two of Bonnie's former co-workers and the fiancé of one of these former colleagues. Defendant McAnarney was a Director of Human Resources and Administrator in the Office of the Comptroller. Defendant Grigsby was Bonnie's supervisor at the Office of the Comptroller. Defendant Jerome King was a police officer with the Supreme Court of Illinois and Grigsby's fiancé.

On or about February 20, 2007, Bonnie learned from a co-worker at the Office of the Comptroller that sensitive personnel and agency documents were accessible to all office employees through an internal agency computer system, the Human Resources "O" drive. Bonnie sent an email to McAnarney to inform her of the sensitive materials on the "O" drive and to warn her that their accessibility could violate privacy and confidentiality laws and policies. After McAnarney received Bonnie's email, she allegedly confronted Bonnie in a hostile manner and demanded to know how Bonnie had accessed them. When Bonnie showed her, McAnarney accused Bonnie of placing the documents on the "O" drive herself to create intra-office conflict.

The next day, at McAnarney's direction, another Office of the Comptroller employee, Miguel Calderon, called Bonnie and asked her to explain how to access the documents on the "O" drive. Bonnie did, but Calderon could not find the same documents Bonnie had. He called her twice more that day while she was engaged in other work and left messages accusing her of failing to perform her official duties.

On February 22, 2007, McAnarney, Calderon, and Labor Liaison John Dill again asked her to demonstrate how the sensitive documents could be accessed. After she did, they asked her how she learned of the documents. Bonnie refused to reveal the identity of the co-worker who had told her about the documents because she was afraid that this person would get in trouble and receive the same hostile treatment from management that Bonnie was receiving.

Dill questioned Bonnie again on February 23 and 27, 2007. He told her that if she persisted in refusing to reveal the identity of the co-worker who informed her of the accessible documents, she could be terminated. On February 27, 2007, after Dill showed Bonnie a document stating that Human Resources would take no disciplinary action against anyone she revealed, Bonnie told him that Alice Kern was the individual who had informed her of the accessible documents.

More than a week later, on March 8, 2007, Bonnie attended a meeting with McAnarney, Grigsby, Dill, and others. She learned that Human Resources had decided to take formal disciplinary action against her. McAnarney presented Bonnie with a document titled "Oral Warning" accusing Bonnie of insubordination and misrepresentation. Amended Complaint, § 23.

Throughout this period of time, Bonnie suffered emotional, physical, and mental distress and began experiencing anxiety attacks. On March 9, 2007, her primary care physician referred her to a Dr. Forsyth for mental health treatment. Dr. Forsyth ordered her to take time off work. On April 16, 2007, Bonnie returned to work part-time. That day, Grigsby presented Bonnie with her 2006 evaluation, which contained many negative comments regarding Bonnie's behavior. Bonnie complained that these criticisms were surprising, and Grigsby became hostile and defensive.

After Bonnie left work that day, she had another anxiety attack and visited Dr. Forsyth. He directed her to take at least two additional weeks of medical leave and placed her on anti-depressant medication. On April 30, 2007, Dr. Forsyth directed that Bonnie extend her medical leave until June 11, 2007. On June 20, 2007, however, Bonnie received a denial from the Office of the Comptroller of her doctor's request for an extension of leave to June 11, 1007. The letter directed her to return to work July 2, 2007, with a medical release showing that she was fit for full-time duty or to face termination.

Dr. Forsyth refused Bonnie's request for a medical release; in his opinion, she was not fit to resume her duties. On June 29, 2007, Dr. Forsyth faxed a letter with his opinion to the Human Resources Division of the Office of the Comptroller. On June 29, 2007, Bonnie received a letter from McAnarney and Grigsby informing her that she was expected back at work on July 2, 2007. Bonnie responded with a letter stating that she was not well enough to return to work and lacked a release from her doctor. On July 6, 2007, Bonnie received a letter from McAnarney stating that Bonnie had abandoned her job and therefore was terminated. Bonnie's union then filed a grievance.

Throughout this period, Roosevelt owned a Springfield store known as Fashion Afrique. On August 7, 2007, a man later identified as King, entered the store and asked Roosevelt if he knew Defendant Grigsby. King told Roosevelt that he heard that Roosevelt had threatened Grigsby, and King then threatened Roosevelt with physical violence for having bothered her and prevented Roosevelt from leaving his own store. King was wearing a law enforcement uniform throughout this confrontation, and Roosevelt thought he was a member of the United States Marshal's Office.

After King left Roosevelt's store, Roosevelt immediately called 911 to report the incident. Operators transferred his call to the United States Marshal's Office, which sent deputies out to take Roosevelt's statement and investigate. On August 14, 2007, a member of the United States Marshal's ...


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