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Joyce Molino v. Bast Services

March 7, 2011

JOYCE MOLINO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BAST SERVICES, INC., AND THE FOUNDATION FOR ALZHEIMER'S AND CULTURAL MEMORY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge George M. Marovich

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

The Court previously granted plaintiff Joyce Molino ("Molino") summary judgment on four counts against defendant Bast Services, Inc. ("Bast Services").*fn1 She now moves for summary judgment with respect to damages. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants in part and denies in part plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.

I. Background

Included with plaintiff's motion was the statement of material facts required by Local Rule 56.1. In response, defendant filed a brief outlining reasons why it believes the motion should be denied. Defendant did not, however, file either a response to plaintiff's statement of facts or its own statement of additional facts. Local Rule 56.1 of the Local Rules for the Northern District of Illinois requires a party moving for summary judgment to file a statement of material facts as to which the movant contends there is no genuine issue. See Local Rule 56.1(a)(1)(3). The non-moving party must file a response to the moving party's statement of facts. See Local Rule 56.1(b). Pursuant to Local Rule 56.1(b), "[a]ll material facts set forth in the statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing party." See Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C); see also Parra v. Neal, 614 F.3d 635, 636 (7th Cir. 2010); Cracco v. Vitran, 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009) (approving the practice of requiring strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1). Because defendant failed to file a response to plaintiff's statement of facts, defendant failed to controvert plaintiff's statement of facts. Accordingly, the Court deems admitted all of the facts in plaintiff's statement of facts. The following facts are undisputed.

Before her employment at Bast Services was terminated, Molino earned an annual salary of $51,000.00. Bast Services terminated Molino's employment on November 17, 2006.

As a direct result of the termination of her employment with Bast Services, Molino suffered emotional distress. For example, Molino suffered shock, confusion, panic, anxiety, stress, depression, loss of appetite followed by weight gain, severe sleeplessness, crying jags, humiliation, embarrassment, panic attacks, headaches and loss of self esteem and self worth. After her discharge, Molino felt betrayed, because she had been lured away from a stable, good-paying job at Alden Town Manor in order to work for Bast Services. Molino felt anger, because Bast Services contested her claim for unemployment insurance by fabricating performance issues. Molino felt outrage, because Bast Services terminated her employment due to Molino's having done what Molino considered to be the ethical thing to do: blowing the whistle on a former employer. Molino's emotional distress continued for years until Molino obtained her current position at Lexington Health Care Center in May 2009.

In an attempt to find comparable employment, Molino has held several positions since her employment with Bast Services ended. From February 12, 2007 through May 24, 2007, Molino earned $11,700.00 as the Alzheimer/Dementia Care Coordinator at West Suburban Care Center. From July 5, 2007 through June 23, 2008, Molino earned approximately $39,000.00 working as the Social Service Director at Asta Care Center of Elgin. Since May 12, 2009, Molino has worked as the Memory Care Manager at Lexington Health Care Center of Streamwood, Illinois. In that position, Molino earns an annual salary of $43,000,00.

In the meantime, Molino lost her home to foreclosure. In the months after Bast Services terminated her employment, Molino had no earnings. In addition, because Bast Services contested her claim for unemployment compensation, Molino did not receive unemployment compensation. Molino was unable to make her mortgage payments. By April 2007, the bank from which Molino borrowed the money to pay for her house began foreclosure proceedings. By June 2008, the house had been sold at auction. Molino believes she lost $41,528.82 in home equity.

II. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment should be granted when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that 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). When making such a determination, the Court must construe the evidence and make all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). Summary judgment is appropriate, however, when the non-moving party "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to the party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). "A genuine issue of material fact arises only if sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party exists to permit a jury to return a verdict for that party." Brummett v. Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., 414 F.3d 686, 692 (7th Cir. 2005).

III. Discussion

The Court previously granted plaintiff Molino summary judgment on her four claims. Molino prevailed on her common-law claim for retaliatory discharge; her claim under the Illinois Whistleblower Act, 740 ILCS 174/15; her claim for retaliatory discharge under the False Claims Act, 30 U.S.C. § 3730(h); and her claim for retaliatory discharge under the Illinois Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act, 740 ILCS 175/4(g). The Court now considers the appropriate remedy. Under the False Claims Act, a successful plaintiff: shall be entitled to all relief necessary to make the employee whole. Such relief shall include reinstatement with the same seniority status such employee would have had but for the discrimination, 2 times the amount of back pay, interest on the back pay, and compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the discrimination, including litigation costs and reasonable attorneys' fees.

31 U.S.C. § 3730(h). The Illinois Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act contains similar language. It states:

(g) Relief from retaliatory actions.

(1) In general, any employee, contractor, or agent is entitled to all relief necessary to make that employee, contractor, or agent whole, if that employee, contractor, or agent is discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment because of lawful acts done by the employee, contractor, or agent on behalf of the employee, contractor, or agent or associated others in furtherance of other efforts to stop one or more violations of this Act.

(2) Relief under paragraph (1) shall include reinstatement with the seniority status that the employee, contractor, or agent would have had but for the discrimination, 2 times the amount of back pay, interest on the back pay, and compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the discrimination, including litigation costs and reasonable attorneys' fees.

740 ILCS 175/4(g). Under the Illinois Whistleblower Act, a successful plaintiff is entitled to "all relief necessary to make the employee whole," including "backpay, with interest" and "compensation for any damages sustained as a result of the violation, including litigation ...


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