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Beth A. Stokes v. John Deere Seeding Group

March 28, 2013

BETH A. STOKES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN DEERE SEEDING GROUP, A SUBSIDIARY OF DEERE & COMPANY A/K/A JOHN DEERE COMPANY, AND JIM GUNNISON, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sara Darrow United States District Judge

E-FILED Thursday, 28 March, 2013 07:44:42 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

ORDER

Plaintiff Beth Stokes alleges that Defendant Jim Gunnison, now retired, assaulted, battered, and sexually harassed her while the pair worked at John Deere Seeding Group.*fn1

Gunnison moved to dismiss [#12] Stokes's Title VII sexual harassment claim, arguing that no liability exists for non-employers, and certain instances of assault and battery, arguing they are time-barred. Thereafter, Stokes filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint that includes additional allegations and an irrelevant new cause of action (irrelevant because it is not asserted against Gunnison). (ECF No. 27.) Gunnison revived his Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(E) by joining in Deere's opposition to Stokes's Motion for Leave. (See ECF No. 29 at 1; ECF No. 30.) The Court allowed Stokes to amender her complaint and as such, this Order analyzes [#12] Gunnison's revived Motion to Dismiss as applied to [#33] Stokes's Amended Complaint.

As set forth below, the Court agrees that certain allegations of assault and battery are time-barred. The Court further agrees that Stokes cannot proceed against Gunnison for sexual harassment under Title VII.

BACKGROUND

Stokes alleges the following twelve instances of misconduct: The Slander Incident: Between September 1, 2008, and March 1, 2009, Gunnison gave false and negative reports to co-workers and supervisors about Stokes's work performance. (Amend. Compl. at ¶ 23, ECF No. 33.)

The Throwing Keys Incident: Around February 1, 2009, Gunnison threw a set of keys at Stokes, which struck her chest and caused her pain. (Id. at ¶ 24.)

The Spitting and Cursing Incident: Around March 13, 2009, in response to a work-related question, Gunnison screamed at Stokes in close proximity to her face, spit on her, and yelled "You are going to pay for this!" (Id. at ¶ 25.)

The Picture Incident: On April 6, 2009, after returning to work from a suspension (allegedly received for reporting Gunnison's harassment), Stokes found twenty-five pictures of Gunnison wallpapered over her workspace. (Id. at ¶ 26.)

The Blocking Incidents: On multiple occasions during November 2009, Gunnison blocked the exit door-which Stokes frequently needed to use to do her job. (Id. at ¶ 28.)

The Planter Incident: On December 14, 2010, Gunnison violated Deere safety standards by purposely operating a planter while Stokes was inside the "arms" without telling Stokes or honking the horn. (Id. at ¶ 29-30.)

The Right Heel Incident: On January 6, 2011, Gunnison rode over Stokes's heel with his bicycle, causing her great pain. (Id. at ¶ 31.)

The Desk Incident: On February 15, 2011, Gunnison rifled through Stokes's personal items in her ...


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