United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
For Martin Anderson, Plaintiff: David A. Hemenway, Law Offices of David A. Hemenway, Chicago, IL.
For Carmen Iacullo, individually, Stephen Travia, individuallyl, Illinois Department Of Transportation, Defendants: Justin L. Leinenweber, LEAD ATTORNEY, Illinois Attorney General's Office (100 W), Chicago, IL.
Virginia M. Kendall, United States District Court Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Martin Anderson brings this suit against Defendant Carmen Iacullo and the Illinois Department of Transportation (" IDOT" ), alleging that Iacullo caused the termination of his employment at IDOT based on his political affiliation in violation of the First Amendment (Count I). Specifically, Anderson alleges he was fired from his position as the head of the Electrical Design Section in IDOT's District 1 because he was not a political supporter of Iacullo, IDOT's Acting Engineer of Operations. In Count II of his First Amended Complaint, Anderson seeks a petition for writ of certiorari under Illinois common law to review IDOT's decision to terminate him. Defendants move for summary judgment on both counts. For the reasons stated herein, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment with respect to Count I is granted. As Count I represents the sole basis for this Court's federal jurisdiction, the Court exercizes its discretion not to assert supplemental jurisdiction and therefore dismisses Count II.
STATEMENT OF MATERIAL UNDISPUTED FACTS
I. The Parties' Noncompliance with Local Rule 56.1
As a preliminary matter, the Court notes that both parties have failed to comply
with Local Rule 56.1 for the Northern District of Illinois. First, throughout his Response to Defendants' 56.1 Statement of Facts, Anderson states that the Defendants' assertions are " undisputed" but " incomplete." ( See Pl. 56.1 Resp. ¶ ¶ 10-11, 13, 26, 48, 53-54). In response to these assertions and others, Anderson then proceeds to submit additional facts of his own. ( See id; see also Pl. 56.1 Resp. ¶ ¶ 3, 12, 19, 23, 25, 36, 39, 52, 74.) As this Court has previously stated:
Using such evidence to directly dispute [the Defendant's] facts is fine, but to be considered as facts affirmatively demonstrating why summary judgment should be denied, [the Plaintiff's] evidence must also appear in [his] statement of additional facts under the local rules .... Putting this evidence in the statement of additional facts is necessary because [the Defendant] has no mechanism to 'reply' to [the Plaintiff's] responses to [the Defendant's] facts and thereby dispute the contentions raised in [the Plaintiff's] responses.
Woods v. Von Maur, Inc., 837 F.Supp.2d 857, 863 (N.D. Ill. 2011) (citations omitted). Accordingly, any additional assertions of fact contained in Anderson's response to Defendants' Rule 56.1 Statement that do not directly dispute Defendants' facts will be ignored. See Cracco v. Vitran Express, Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009) ( " Because of the important function local rules like Rule 56.1 serve in organizing the evidence and identifying disputed facts, we have consistently upheld the district court's discretion to require strict compliance with those rules." ); see, e.g., Chatman v. Vill. of Oak Park, No. 07 C 0625, 2008 WL 516880, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 21, 2008) (additional facts included as part of plaintiff's support for disputing proposed facts are not considered because they are not presented in compliance with Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B)).
Next, any assertions contained in Defendants' " Reply" to Anderson's Response to Defendants' Statement of Facts (Dkt. 101) are not properly before the Court. While Anderson is permitted to file a response to Nationwide's statement of additional facts, see L.R. 56.1(a), " nowhere does the rule state that a movant may reply to the responses of a non-movant." Hudgens v. Wexler and Wexler, 391 F.Supp.2d 634, 637 (N.D. Ill. 2005). Thus the Court will not consider the " unnecessary and improper 'replies' to [Anderson's] responses." Id. (citing Shulz v. Varian Med. Sys., Inc., 315 F.Supp.2d 923, 925 n.1 (N.D. Ill. 2004) (Castillo, J.) (" Such a reply is inappropriate" ); accord Kozlowski v. Fry, 238 F.Supp.2d 996, 1000 n. 2 (N.D. Ill. 2002) ([S]uch a submission by Defendants is neither appropriate nor necessary under the Local Rules." ).
II. The Parties' Employment with IDOT
Martin Anderson began working for IDOT in 1985 as the Contract Plans unit chief in the Bureau of Electrical Operations. (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ ¶ 1-2.) In 1990, Anderson became a Technical Manager VII, serving as Bureau Chief of the Bureau of Electrical Operations -- an upper management position. ( Id. ¶ 2.) The State of Illinois designates certain, limited state employment positions as " Rutan -exempt."
(Complaint, ¶ 13.) This designation stems from the Supreme Court's decision in Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois, 497 U.S. 62, 110 S.Ct. 2729, 111 L.Ed.2d 52 (1990), in which the Court held that the First Amendment forbids government officials from discharging public employees solely for not being supporters of the political party in power unless party affiliation is an appropriate requirement for the position involved. Id. at 64. If a position is Rutan -exempt, the State may lawfully make decisions regarding the hiring, promotion, transfer, or recall from layoff for the position based on political affiliation or support because the position is either a confidential or policymaking position. Id. For all positions other than Rutan -exempt positions, the State of Illinois, including IDOT, is prohibited from hiring, promoting, transferring, terminating, laying off, or recalling from layoff, any person on the basis of political affiliation or support. ( Id. ¶ 14.) Anderson's position was designated as " non- Rutan exempt" by the State of Illinois, meaning the Defendants were prohibited from basing any employment decisions regarding Anderson on his political affiliation or support for a particular political party or faction. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 15-16.)
Defendant Carmen Iacullo began working for IDOT in 2004 as an Assistant to the District 1 Engineer. (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ 3.) Prior to working for IDOT, Iacullo worked for the City of Chicago, first for the Department of Streets and Sanitation from 1975 to 1989 and then for the Chicago Department of Transportation from 1989 to 2004. (Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 1.) In 2004, Iacullo learned that there may be a position available to him at IDOT from Timothy Martin, then-Secretary of Transportation for the Blagojevich Administration. (Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 3.) Iacullo and Martin knew one another because they had worked together at the Chicago Department of Transportation from 1989 to the mid-1990s. ( Id. ) Martin was one of the three individuals who interviewed Iacullo for his position at IDOT. ( Id. ¶ 4.) When IDOT hired Iacullo, the position of Assistant to the District Engineer was a vacant position that no one had occupied for a several years. (Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 6; Def. 56.1 Resp. ¶ 6.) In addition, Iacullo was the first person without an engineering degree to hold a non-administrative-management executive position at IDOT. (Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 7.) After Iacullo took the position of Assistant to the District Engineer, three civil engineering positions within IDOT's Bureau of Maintenance were converted to technical manager positions that did not require an engineering degree. ( Id. ¶ 9.) Two of the three positions were filled by former City of Chicago employees Michael Schivarelli and Anthony Dilacova. ( Id. ¶ 9.) While Iacullo knew of both individuals, he had no interaction with Dilacova during his tenure with the City of Chicago and only a few encounters with Schivarelli. ( Id ; Iacullo Dep., pp. 48-56.) Giovanni Fulgenzi, the Personnel Services Manager for District 1, became concerned that positions historically and traditionally held by civil engineers were being converted to positions held by non-engineers. (Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 8.)
III. Anderson's Political Activity and Nonaffiliation
Anderson, who identifies himself as a Republican, testified that Iacullo had an inner circle of people who either had a " Chicago background," a " Democrat political background," or who would refrain from raising issues or challenging decisions made by Iacullo and his close associates. (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ ¶ 9, 14.) Though Anderson expressed to Fulgenzi that he was concerned that the practices at IDOT were becoming more like those of the City of Chicago, he does not recall discussing
with Iacullo his political views or lack of political affiliation with the " Chicago political faction."  (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ ¶ 9, 20-21; Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 27.) Iacullo was unaware of Anderson's voting record, donations, and volunteerism. (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ ¶ 9, 20.) According to Anderson, however, Iacullo was aware of his political affiliation and non-affiliation with the " Chicago political faction" because (1) Iacullo knew Anderson lived in West Dundee, Illinois--an area Anderson considers to be predominately republican; and (2) Anderson opposed being excluded in 2005 and 2007 from two employee interview panels in--one for a Communication Center staff position and the other for Anderson's direct subordinate--based on his view that his exclusion violated the Rutan guidelines. (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ ¶ 32-34.)
Although Iacullo's inner circle may include both Republicans and Democrats, Anderson testified that " [w]hat was important was being in the inner circle, being affirmative to what Mr. Iacullo wanted to do, not offering any opposition or contradictory information, not questioning." (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ 11.) When asked what role political faction or lack of political affiliation to the Chicago Machine played in the 2007 District 1 reorganization, Anderson testified " [i]t is not a matter of affiliation with the Chicago machine. It is a matter of affiliation and loyalty to [Iacullo], to what he wanted." ( Id. ¶ 12.) Anderson also testified that " it was more important to be loyal to Mr. Iacullo than a particular party named label. It was more important to be part of the inner circle, basically, to be a yes-man to go along." ( Id. ¶ 10.) Iacullo has never been a candidate for a public office on behalf of a political party and the parties agree that Iacullo's " inner circle" is not a political party and is not the same thing as the " Chicago Democratic Machine." ( Id. ¶ 15-16.) Neither Iacullo nor any members from his " inner circle" have ever asked Anderson to engage in political activities, make contributions to a candidate, or attend fundraisers or political events. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 15-16.)
On August 24, 2007, Anderson directed an inquiry to Ellen Schanzle-Haskins, IDOT's Chief Legal Counsel, regarding an August 16, 2007 memorandum from the Governor's Chief of Staff, Clayton Harris, in which the Harris expressed the importance of not revealing confidential IDOT information to legislators. ( Id. ¶ 23; Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 31.) Upon receiving Harris's memo, Anderson emailed Schanzle-Haskins to confirm his understanding that " nothing in any Department communication is intended to limit our contact, as citizens and constituents without own elected officials." (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ 24; Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 32.) Schanzle-Haskins responded, " You are correct that directives are not aimed at your ability to communicate with your legislators in general, but not about IDOT information. So long as you honor your duty to keep IDOT information confidential . . . you are good to go." (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ 24.) Anderson's email did not reference his political affiliation with the Republican Party or lack of political affiliation with Iacullo or the Chicago political faction. ( Id. ¶ 27.) Schanzle-Haskins immediately forwarded her communication with Anderson to O'Keefe, Doubet, and Iacullo consistent with her common practice of keeping " top management" informed of the types of questions she received and how she had responded. ( Id.
¶ 25; Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 33.)  Within thirty minutes of receiving the email thread, Iacullo contacted Anderson by forwarding the same email back to him and stating, " See me Monday." (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ 33. ) Anderson met with Iacullo on Monday, August 27, 2007 at a Bureau Chiefs meeting. (Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 34.) Iacullo asked Anderson why he wanted to contact his legislators and whether he wanted to contact his legislators about confidential IDOT information as prohibited by the Harris memo and IDOT's Personnel Manual. ( Id ; Def. 56.1 St. ¶ 26.)
Anderson also submitted an inquiry to the Illinois Attorney General's Office on December 12, 2008 regarding the implementation of the Supreme Court's decision in Rutan. (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ 31.) He received a response to his inquiry on December 22, 2008. ( Id. ) Anderson describes his correspondence with his legislators and Attorney General's Office as " purely private communications" and there is no indication that Iacullo was familiar with the content of the communications or the fact that it took place. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 30-31.)
IV. The IDOT Reorganization
Prior to 2008, IDOT's District 1 was composed of three bureaus: Electrical, Traffic, and Maintenance. (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ 39.) In 2004, Illinois Secretary of Transportation Tim Martin authorized a consultant study to look at reorganizing the Traffic and Electrical Bureaus, stating the reorganization was necessary due to " overlap" and " disconnect" between the bureaus. (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ 39; Pl. 56.1 St., Tab 5.) On March 8, 2005, Diane O'Keefe, the regional engineer, expressed in an email to Martin that the restructuring would " allow us to release [Anderson's] tight control of everything." (Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 16.) The email goes on to state that " if [Anderson] continues to bottleneck, we may need to go further." ( Id. ) In an email dated March 29, 2005, O'Keefe suggested to Martin that Anderson be moved to " signals" as part of the overall reorganization. ( Id. ¶ 19.) On July 14, 2006, HNTB, the consultant hired by IDOT, presented IDOT with the results of its study and assessments of IDOT operations and provided a number of recommendations, including the creation of a combined " Bureau of Traffic and Electrical Engineering." (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ 48.) According to HNTB, this structure would take " full advantage of existing ITS  knowledge
base, and also [maintain a] single point of contact and authority for delivering ITS projects." ( Id. ) Accordingly, the HNTB report recommended consolidating and moving divisions into new or combined units. ( Id. )
Iacullo supported reorganizing District 1 by reducing the number of bureaus from three to two. ( Id. ¶ 41.) According to Iacullo, numerous issues at IDOT could not be resolved because the Bureau of Traffic and Bureau of Electrical could not come to agreements on how to proceed or rectify matters dealing with ITS components on construction projects, major highways, and other projects and developments. ( Id. ¶ 41.) Iacullo explained for example, that several years after construction was completed on Interstate Highway 57, the ITS components were not functioning properly and " the Bureaus of Traffic and Electrical, as well as construction and the contractor [were] pointing fingers at each other as to why the finalization of those components were not resolved." ( Id. ¶ 42.) After attending a meeting where Martin " was explicitly dissatisfied with the fact that nobody was working out the problems to resolve the outstanding issues" on the Interstate 57 Project, Iacullo and others at IDOT determined that it would be beneficial to have all functions dealing with Traffic, Electrical, and ITS put under one supervisor to have one advocate or voice on how to resolve problems that have been developing as a result of the bureaus' constant disagreement on how to move forward. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 42-43.)
Iacullo initiated monthly meetings with the Traffic and Electrical Bureaus and various " section heads" and bureau chiefs in order to facilitate discussions about the outstanding problems. (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ 44.) Iacullo, O'Keefe, Fulgenzi and others provided input into the reorganization of District 1 in December 2007. ( Id. ¶ 50.) O'Keefe stated in an email dated December 18, 2007 that both the traffic and electrical bureaus needed " to be under one leader" and that she had presented an overview of the reorganization to Milt Sees, the Secretary of Transportation, and Chris Reed, Director of Highways, for approval. ( Id. ¶ 52.) O'Keefe added that the reorganization " will greatly increase efficiency here in [District] 1." ( Id ; Pl. 56.1 St., Tab 5.) Anderson was ...