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Davis v. City of Springfield

November 20, 2009

RICKEY DAVIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF SPRINGFIELD, DEFENDANT.



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

OPINION

This matter came before the Court on October 15, 2009, for a bench trial of Plaintiff Rickey Davis' claim for equitable economic remedies for the City's retaliation against him in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). 42 U.S.C. § 2000e. Plaintiff Davis appeared in person and with his counsel Mary Anne Sedey and Donna L. Harper. Defendant City of Springfield appeared by Assistant Corporation Counsels Frank Martinez and Angela Fyans. The liability portion of Davis' retaliation claim was tried before a jury beginning on September 1, 2009. On September 10, 2009, the jury found the City liable for retaliation in violation of Title VII and awarded $350,000.00 in damages for emotional distress. This amount will be reduced to the statutory cap of $300,000.00. 42 U.S.C. § 1981a. Davis also seeks equitable economic remedies for lost compensation and benefits. Such remedies are properly for the Court to determine under Title VII. See e.g., Alexander v. City of Milwaukee, 474 F.3d 437, 439 (7th Cir. 2007). The following constitutes findings of fact and conclusions of law for this portion of the trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 52.

FINDINGS OF FACT

On March 6, 2006, Davis was a Lieutenant in the City's Police Department (Department). On that date Davis went on medical leave due to depression. The jury found that the City was liable for subjecting Davis to emotional distress by retaliating against him for engaging in protected activity under Title VII. For purposes of this bench trial, this Court must accept the jury's findings. See Franzen v. Ellis Corp., 543 F.3d 420, 428 (7th Cir. 2008) ("Under the doctrine of issue preclusion or direct estoppel, a district court may not re-decide factual issues already necessarily determined by a jury."). Based on those findings, the Court finds that Davis went on medical leave because of the emotional distress caused by the wrongful retaliation. Davis remained on medical leave throughout the rest of 2006. Davis' doctor stated that he would be able to return to work on March 5, 2007. Davis, however, retired from the Department on January 3, 2007. Davis' annual salary on the date of retirement was $82,158.18. Plaintiff's Exhibit 5, Application for Retirement.*fn1 His biweekly gross pay was $3,159.92 and his hourly rate was $42.13. See Plaintiff's Exhibit 6, Springfield Police Department Lieutenants and Deputy Chiefs Wages and Fringes, at 2.

Davis used all of his accrued compensatory time, personal time, vacation time, and sick time during his medical leave (collectively Accrued Time). Through the use of his Accrued Time, Davis received his full salary from March 6, 2006, until November 4, 2006. Plaintiff's Exhibit 8, Daily Transaction History for Rickey Davis; Plaintiff's Exhibit 10, Email from Lynette Withers dated September 6, 2006, re Rickey Davis. Thereafter, he was on unpaid leave until his retirement. Forty-three weeks and three days passed from March 6, 2006, until January 3, 2007. Davis' gross salary for that period would have totaled $68,886.26 if he had worked for that period. Davis, however, only received full salary for the 35 weeks from March 6, 2006, to November 4, 2006, or $55,298.60, while on his medical leave.*fn2 Thus, Davis lost wages totaling $13,588.00.*fn3

Upon retirement, Davis would have been entitled to receive a lump sum payment for all accrued and unused vacation and compensatory time and one-half of the accrued sick time at his final rate of pay on his retirement date. Transcript of Proceedings on October 15, 2009 (Case No. 07-3096 d/e 26) (Transcript), at 66 (testimony of Terrance Tranquilli).*fn4 He would have received no compensation for unused personal time at retirement.

Davis testified that, in the past, he had taken vacations and sick leave although he was attempting to accumulate this time. Thus, the evidence supports the finding that he would have taken at least a week of vacation and a week of sick leave if he had been able to remain at work until his date of retirement. If Davis had not used his remaining accrued vacation and sick time during his medical leave, he would have received a lump sum payment of $8,357.00 in accrued vacation pay and $17,297.00 for accumulated sick pay. See Plaintiff's Memorandum in Support of His Request for Economic Relief (d/e 304) (Plaintiff's Memorandum), at 4 n. 2.*fn5 He also would have received a lump sum payment of $758.00 for the 18 hours of compensatory time used during his medical leave.*fn6 Davis, however, did not receive any such payments because he had used all of his Accrued Time during his medical leave. The retention of the Accrued Time until retirement, however, would not have affected the calculation of his retirement benefits. Transcript, at 66 (testimony of Terrance Tranquilli).

Davis submitted evidence that the interest rate used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for overpayments and underpayments in 2006 and 2007 ranged from 6.00 percent to 9.00 percent. Plaintiff's Exhibit 9, Revenue Ruling 2009-27, Section 6621 - Determination of Rate of Interest, attached final summary page. The Court takes judicial notice that the prime rate reported by the Wall Street Journal was 8.25 percent on January 3, 2007, and was 3.25 percent on the date of trial, October 15, 2009.

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

Davis is entitled to an economic remedy for lost compensation and benefits, or back pay, that will put him in the position that he would have been if not for the City's unlawful retaliation. Bruno v. City of Crown Point, Ind., 950 F.2d 355, 360 (7th Cir. 1991). In this case, Davis suffered depression as a result of the retaliation and, thereby, lost compensation during the time of his unpaid medical leave from November 4, 2006, until his retirement date on January 3, 2007. In addition, Davis lost the lump sum payments that he otherwise would have received at retirement had he not used his Accrued Time during his medical leave. Because the City's retaliation caused Davis to lose work, and as a result, compensation and benefits, he is entitled to recover those sums. Townsend v. Indiana University, 995 F.2d 691, 693 (7th Cir. 1993).

The City argues that Davis should be barred from asserting a claim for damages for back pay from March 6, 2006, to January 3, 2007, because Davis did not disclose a claim for back pay in his Rule 26 disclosure or any supplement to those disclosures. Davis's original Rule 26 disclosure did not reference back pay for the period from March 6, 2006, to January 3, 2007, as an element of damage. This disclosure, therefore, was not complete. Davis was obligated to supplement his Rule 26 disclosure if: (1) he learned that the disclosures were incomplete or incorrect, and (2) the additional or corrective information had not otherwise been made known to the City during the discovery process. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(e)(1)(A).

In this case, the additional information on which Davis relied for his claim came from documents provided by the City in discovery and from the deposition testimony of witnesses designated by the City under Rule 30(b)(6) to testify regarding pensions and police compensation. See Plaintiff's Exhibits 5, 6, 8 and 10 cited above, and Exhibit 11, Plaintiff's Designation of Deposition Testimony of Scott Kincaid and Terrance Tranquilli. Thus, all of this information on which Davis relies came from the City and was disclosed in the discovery process. Since the information was adequately disclosed in the discovery process, Davis was not obligated to provide an additional supplemental Rule 26 disclosure. Davis, therefore, is not barred from asserting this claim for back pay.

The City also cites the case of Brooms v. Regal Tube Co. for the proposition that a Title VII plaintiff may only receive back pay if he was discharged. Brooms, 881 F.2d 412, 423 (7th Cir. 1989) overruled in part on other grounds, Saxton v. American Tel. & Tel. Co., 10 F.3d 526, 533 n. 12 (7th Cir. 1993). The Court of Appeals decided Townsend after Brooms. The Townsend opinion is therefore controlling on this issue. Back pay may be awarded if the plaintiff lost wages due to the defendant's violation of Title VII even if the plaintiff was not discharged. Townsend, 995 F.2d at 693. That occurred here. Davis is entitled to a back pay remedy.

The City attempts to distinguish Townsend on the facts; however, the jury found the City liable for retaliation, and further, awarded $350,000.00 as compensation for his emotional distress. It is clear that the jury believed that the City's wrongful conduct caused Davis to suffer from depression. The Court must accept the jury's factual findings. Franzen, 543 F.3d at 428. That depression forced him onto medical leave. The City approved the leave, and so, ...


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