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Michael A. Teruggi v. the Cit Group/Capital Finance

May 3, 2012

MICHAEL A. TERUGGI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CIT GROUP/CAPITAL FINANCE, INC. D/B/A CIT RAIL, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Ronald A. Guzman

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff has sued defendant for its alleged violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 623, the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12112, the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/2-102, and for discharging him in retaliation for exercising his rights under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act. Defendant has filed a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56 motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the motion.

Facts

On July 7, 1997, plaintiff started working for defendant, a company that leases locomotive and freight cars, in leasing and sales. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶¶ 1-2.)

On April 10, 2002, plaintiff suffered a work-related injury that ultimately resulted in the amputation of his right little finger and the bones that connect it to his wrist. (Id. ¶ 3.) After the injury, plaintiff was still able to perform the functions of his job, but his speed and accuracy in working on the computer decreased significantly. (Def.'s Ex. 2, Pl.'s Dep. 93-94.) Plaintiff asked his supervisor, George Cashman, for a left-handed keyboard and an external drive for his computer, so he would not have to carry his computer around. (Id. 94-95.) Cashman denied the former request but granted the latter. (Id.)

In 2005, plaintiff filed a complaint with the Illinois Worker's Compensation Commission, which was settled in May 2007 for $35,000.00. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 6.)

In 2007, defendant created the position of Senior Vice President and General Manager of Locomotives to oversee locomotive leasing and maintenance. (Id. ¶ 7.) Plaintiff applied and was interviewed for the job, but not until after defendant had offered it to Dan DiStefano. (Id. ¶¶ 8-10,

14.) DiStefano accepted the offer and started to work for defendant in September 2007. (Id. ¶ 14.) On February 20, 2008, plaintiff received an email from another employee of defendant,

George Sullivan, with the subject listed as "Competitive Information." (Id. ¶ 15.) The email stated that "Richard Latini has been promoted to head the sales group at Babcock and Brown," one of defendant's competitors, and "[a]ll [of] their sales personnel will now be reporting directly to Richard." (Id.) Immediately after receiving it, plaintiff forwarded the email to Latini. (Id. ¶ 16.)

The next day, one of defendant's managers discovered that someone had sent Sullivan's email to Latini. (Id. ¶ 17.) Cashman, who knew that Latini and plaintiff were close friends, suspected that plaintiff had sent the email. (Id. ¶ 18.) Cashman and defendant's Human Resources managers thought it was improper for plaintiff to have sent the message to one of defendant's competitors. (Id. ¶¶ 17-20.) Shortly thereafter, Cashman authorized Susan Keifer, Vice President of Human Resources, to monitor plaintiff's emails. (Id. ¶ 20.)

Keifer did not look at all of plaintiff's emails. (Id. ¶ 21.) Rather, she focused on the emails plaintiff sent to recipients not affiliated with defendant. (Id.)

On August 18, 2008, defendant's Chief Counsel sent the following email to all employees:

In connection with the performance of your responsibilities for [defendant], you may receive and/or have access to certain commercially sensitive information, including without limitation, TRAC rates, lease expiration dates, pipeline reports, operating lease reports and availability reports.

This email is intended to serve as a reminder that such information constitutes proprietary information covered under [defendant's] Code of Business Conduct. Under the Code, you are required to protect the confidentiality of all proprietary information. Such information should not be shared outside of [defendant] or otherwise used for any purpose beyond what is required for performance of your responsibilities for [defendant]. For avoidance of any uncertainty, you should not email proprietary information to any non-[defendant] email ...


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