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Barbara Stanfield v. Thomas Dart

December 27, 2012

BARBARA STANFIELD PLAINTIFF,
v.
THOMAS DART, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, COOK COUNTY, A UNIT OF MUNICIPAL
GOVERNMENT; COOK COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, A POLITICAL SUBDIVISION; THOMAS SNOOKS, SCOTT KURTOVICH, INDIVIDUALLY DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Virginia M. Kendall

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Barbara Stanfield ("Stanfield") filed a six-count complaint against the Defendants for various claims premised on allegations of sexual harassment. Defendants Thomas Dart, Scott Kurtovich, Cook County and the Cook County Sheriff's Department have all moved for summary judgment on the claims asserted against them. For the reasons set forth below, the Defendants' Motion is granted in part and denied in part.

STATEMENT OF FACTS*fn1

The Cook County Sheriff's Office has employed Stanfield as a Correctional Officer since July 1991. (Def. 56.1 ¶ 2.) During the relevant period, Stanfield was assigned to the Central Kitchen and Records Departments. (Id. at ¶¶ 6-7, 20.) Snooks was the superintendent of those departments and was Stanfield's supervisor. (Id. at ¶ 5; Pl. Add. 56.1 ¶ 13.) Dart is the Cook County Sheriff. Kurtovich was the first assistant executive director of the Department of Corrections.

Stanfield started in Central Kitchen on October 4, 2009. (Def. 56.1 ¶ 6.) She was then transferred to the Records unit on or around October 15, 2009. (Id. at ¶ 7.) The next day, Snooks called Stanfield into his office. (Id. at ¶ 8.) He told her that he was stressed and needed a massage. (Id.) Stanfield obliged and massaged Snooks's shoulders for approximately five minutes. (Id.) Five days later, Snooks called Stanfield into his office again. (Id. at ¶ 10.) When she arrived, Snooks told her to lock the door. (Id. at ¶ 11.) She refused, so he locked the door and then pulled her onto the couch. (Id. at ¶ 11-13.) At this point, he asked her to perform oral sex on him. (Id. at ¶ 14.) She refused; however, he was undeterred. He pulled his penis out of his pants, grabbed Stanfield by the back the neck, and tried to pull her head towards his groin. (Id. at ¶ 15-16.) In the process, Snooks ejaculated in Stanfield's face. (Id. at ¶ 16.) Stanfield did not immediately report Snooks's actions. Over the next month, Snooks called Stanfield into his office twice more to request massages. (Id. at ¶ 9.) Stanfield acquiesced to these requests. Snooks's demands for massages were witnessed by Lt. Luna, a supervisor in the Records Department. (Pl. Add. 56.1 ¶¶ 6, 18.) Lt. Luna never reported Snooks's conduct or stopped it from occurring. (Id. at ¶ 18.)

In December 2009, Stanfield was transferred back to Central Kitchen from Records. (Def. 56.1 ¶ 22.) The next day, Snooks was transferred to Division 11. (Id.) Snooks was no longer Stanfield's supervisor. The record is silent as to whether they had any additional contact. Stanfield never reported Snooks's actions to anyone until she informed Charles Holman about it.*fn2 (Id. at ¶¶ 51-52; Pl. Add. 56.1 ¶ 39.) Mr. Holman is a coordinator who provides sexual harassment training at the Sheriffs Academy. (Def. 56.1 ¶ 51.) Stanfield told Holman that she had been sexually assaulted by a high ranking official. (Id. at ¶ 52.) Holman advised Stanfield to follow the sexual harassment policy that is described in Sheriff's General Order 3.7A. (Id. at ¶ 53.) Holman also stated that the Sheriff's Department's historical practice was to punish those who submitted sexual harassment complaints. (Pl. Add. 56.1 ¶ 40.)

General Order 3.7A specifies the procedures for filing claims for sexual harassment with the Sheriff's Department. The policy states that an "employee who believes he or she has been sexually harassed may make a claim within 365 days following the alleged incident." (Id. at ¶ 25.) In making their claim, the policy directs employees to use the following procedures:

When possible, the victim will directly inform the harasser that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. It is important the victim communicate that the conduct is unwelcome, particularly when the alleged harasser may have some reason to believe that the advance may be welcomed.

The employee shall fill out a Sexual Harassment Complaint Form and report the incident to his or her supervisor. If the employee's supervisor is the alleged harasser, the employee will notify the next in command. The employee will sign and date the Sexual Harassment Complaint Form. The employee can also report the incident directly to the Department Head, using the Sexual Harassment Complaint Form.

The supervisor or next in command or Department Head will initiate a written, documented inquiry of the allegations and refer the complaint to the Inspector General's Office through the appropriate departmental Internal Affairs Division. (Pl. Ex. 1.) The policy also provides that "a person who has witnessed or has knowledge of an incident of sexual harassment is also encouraged to follow this reporting procedure." (Id.) With respect to supervisors, the policy provides that "[a]ny supervisor who is aware of or reasonably should be aware of sexually harassing conduct by another employee whether or not anyone complains about such harassment, but fails to report that conduct as required by this policy, may be subject to discipline." (Id.; Pl. Add. 56.1 ¶ 17.) The Sheriff's Office provides officers with training on this policy. (Def. 56.1 ¶ 49.) Stanfield received this training annually. (Id. at ¶ 50.)

Approximately eight months after Snooks's harassment began, Stanfield filed a written complaint of sexual harassment with the Sheriff's Office on June 22, 2010. (Id. at ¶ 27-28.) Stanfield does not recall who she gave the written complaint to. (Id. at ¶ 33.) However, she did not send the written complaint to either Sheriff Dart or Kurtovich directly. (Id. at ¶ 31-32.) Prior to filing the complaint, Stanfield never informed Dart nor Kurtovich about Snooks's conduct. (Id. at ¶ 30, 36.) Peter Kramer, General Counsel for the Sheriff's Office, received the complaint on June 24, 2010. (Id. at ¶ 59.) The next day, Kramer sent the complaint to Joe Ways, the Director of the Office of Professional Review. (Id. at ¶ 60.) That same day, Ways assigned the complaint to Detective Pon to investigate. (Id. at ¶ 57.) Detective Pon opened the investigation immediately after receiving the complaint. (Id. at ¶ 58.) Snooks retired from the Sheriff's Office on June 30, 2010, eight days after the complaint was filed. (Id. at ¶ 29.)

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is proper 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 judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). In determining whether a genuine issue of fact exists, the Court must view the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the party opposing the motion. Bennington v. Caterpillar Inc., 275 F.3d 654, 658 (7th Cir. 2001); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). However, the Court will "limit its analysis of the facts on summary judgment to evidence that is properly identified and supported in the parties' [Local Rule 56.1] statement." Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. Of Trustees, 233 F.3d 524, 529 (7th Cir. 2000). Where a proposed statement of fact is supported by the record and not adequately rebutted by the opposing party, the Court will accept that statement as true for the purposes of summary judgment. An adequate rebuttal requires a citation to specific support in the record; an unsubstantiated denial is not adequate. See Albiero v. City of Kankakee, 246 F.3d 927, 933 (7th Cir. 2001); Drake v. Minnesota Mining & Mfg. Co., 134 F.3d 878, 887 (7th Cir. 1998) ("Rule 56 demands something more specific than the bald assertion of the general truth of a particular matter[;] rather it requires affidavits that cite specific concrete facts establishing the existence of the truth of the matter asserted."). The non-moving party, therefore, cannot rely on mere conclusions and allegations to create factual issues. Bladerston v. Fairbanks Morse Engine Div. Of Coltec Ind., 328 F.3d 309, 320 (7th Cir. 2003). Nor can speculation be used "to manufacture a genuine issue of fact." Springer v. Durflinger, 518 F.3d 479, 484 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing Amadio v. Ford Motor Co., 238 F.3d 919, 927 (7th Cir. 2001)).

DISCUSSION

I. Section 1983 Claim Against Dart and Kurtovich

Count II of Stanfield's Complaint advances a Section 1983 claim against Dart and Kurtovich in their individual capacities. Because the doctrine of respondeat superior does not apply in Section 1983 cases, Dart and Kurtovich can only be held personally liable for Snooks's conduct if they were personally involved in the alleged deprivation of Stanfield's constitutional rights. See Johnson v. Snyder, 444 F.3d 579, 583 (7th Cir. 2006); Gossmeyer v. McDonald, 128 F.3d 481, 495 (7th Cir. 1997).*fn3 A defendant is personally responsible if he or she is aware of the harassing conduct and either facilitates it, approves it, condones it, or turns a blind eye. Johnson, 444 F.3d ...


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