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Daigre v. City of Harvey

July 30, 2009

CHRISTIAN DAIGRE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF HARVEY AND ERIC KELLOGG, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge James B. Zagel

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Christian Daigre ("Daigre"), a white male, has filed suit against Defendants Eric Kellogg ("Kellogg"), an African-American male who is Mayor of the City of Harvey, in his individual capacity, and the City of Harvey ("Harvey"). Daigre alleges that Defendants violated his rights under Section 1981 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.*fn1 Specifically, Daigre alleges that he was a victim of reverse race discrimination when he was fired from his position as an appointed police officer for Harvey. After completing discovery, Defendants Kellogg and Harvey now move for summary judgment on both counts. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is granted.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment should be granted when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A genuine issue of triable fact exists only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable party could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Pugh v. City of Attica, Ind., 259 F.3d 619, 625 (7th Cir. 2001) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).

Once the moving party has set forth the basis for summary judgment, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party who must go beyond mere allegations and offer specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). The nonmoving party must offer more than "[c]onclusory allegations, unsupported by specific facts" in order to establish a genuine issue of material fact. Payne v. Pauley, 337 F.3d 767, 773 (7th Cir. 2003) (citing Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990)). A party will be successful in opposing summary judgment only if it presents "definite, competent evidence to rebut the motion." EEOC v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 233 F.3d 432, 437 (7th Cir. 2000). I consider the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Lesch v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., F.3d 467, 471 (7th Cir. 2002). I will accept the nonmoving party's version of any disputed fact only if it is supported by relevant, admissible evidence. Bombard v. Fort Wayne Newspapers, Inc., 92 F. 3d 560, 562 (7th Cir. 1996).

III. STATEMENT OF RELEVANT FACTS

During the summer of 2002, Daigre completed an application for a police officer position at the request of the then-mayor, Nickolas Graves. Daigre interviewed for the position and was informed by then-Chief Deputy Barton that he would be temporarily appointed as a police officer and not immediately hired as a permanent civil service police officer. Daigre was officially appointed on September 30, 2002. Appointed officers are allowed to remain employed for 120 days. After that, they must become civil service officers by passing a written test and an oral interview with the Civil Service Commission. Daigre took the requisite written test and had an oral interview. Daigre claims he scored second highest on the written test, though he has failed to produce any supporting evidence in this regard. Nonetheless, Daigre was not made a civil service officer, but others who passed the written test were.

In April 2003, Kellogg was elected as Mayor of Harvey. Subsequently, Andrew Joshua became the Chief of Police of Harvey ("Chief Joshua"). In this capacity, Chief Joshua was responsible for the daily operations and policies of the Harvey Police Department. As such, Daigre inquired with Chief Joshua about his status of becoming a civil service officer, and Chief Joshua responded he would look into it. Chief Joshua found out from his predecessor, Chief Deputy Barton, that Daigre had not passed his oral interview and that Barton had intended to terminate Daigre because his 120 days of appointment had expired. The only reason Barton had not already terminated Daigre was because Barton lost track of time.

On April 13, 2004 Daigre and other officers complained to their union representative about racial comments they overheard on the police radio. While Daigre does not know for sure who made the comments, he believes that Commander Darnell Keel ("Commander Keel") is responsible. Daigre claims the speaker said that he intended to work with Kellogg to eliminate the white officers in the Harvey Police Department. The union representative wrote a letter to Chief Joshua informing him of the possible racial comments. Chief Joshua and an investigator listened to the tapes of the radio and could not find any racial language. Daigre also asserts that Commander Keel encouraged officers to take bribes so long as there were no witnesses. Again, these allegations were never confirmed.

As of April 1, 2003, when Kellogg became mayor, Harvey employed sixteen white police officers. From April 1, 2003 to December 31, 2004, Harvey discontinued the employment of six officers, either by terminating or declining to reappoint them. Those officers included one white officer (Daigre), three African-American officers, and two bi-racial officers. After Kellogg became mayor, Harvey hired thirty-six civil service officers, thirty-five of which were African-American or Hispanic.

Chief Joshua terminated Daigre on June 4, 2004. Prior to his termination, Daigre received nine disciplinary actions throughout his appointment: he was reprimanded for being late to work on multiple occasions, fabricating his productivity time sheets, abusing his sick time, and not properly searching a man prior to booking him. That man had a 12 1/2 inch knife concealed on his person, and thus Daigre put other officers in danger. These disciplinary issues, combined with the fact that Daigre did not pass his oral interview, and that Daigre was well past the allowed 120 days for appointees, led Chief Joshua to make the decision to terminate him.

IV. DISCUSSION

A. Section 1981 Claim Against Kellogg ...


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