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Curry v. City of Chicago

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

June 17, 2014

VERNA CURRY, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendant

For Verna Curry, Plaintiff: Alisa Beth Arnoff, LEAD ATTORNEY, Scalambrino & Arnoff, LLP, Chicago, IL; Stephen G. Seliger, LEAD ATTORNEY, Attorney at Law, Chicago, IL.

For City of Chicago, Defendant: Deja C. Nave, City of Chicago (30 N LS), Chicago, IL; Peter A Ahmadian, City of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

Page 798

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Robert M. Dow, Jr., United States District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant City of Chicago's motion for summary judgment [107]. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants Defendant's motion for summary judgment [107].

I. Background

Plaintiff Verna Curry graduated from college with a B.S. degree in accounting in 1981 and was hired by Defendant City of Chicago in 1985 to work as an auditor in the Tax Division of the City's Department of Revenue. Plaintiff worked in the Department of Revenue (" Department" or " Revenue" ) during the entire time that she was employed by the City. Plaintiff resigned from City employment on June 29, 2012, because she " was 55, and it was time for retirement." Pl. Dep. at 9:23-10:8. She regularly received good performance evaluations.

Bea Reyna-Hickey became the Director of the Department of Revenue in approximately 2000 and held that position for 12 years. Hickey oversaw the Department's six divisions: Finance and Administration, Accounts Receivable, Street Operations, Administrative Adjudication, Payment Processing, and Tax. Phillip Cobb was the Department's Managing Deputy over the Accounts Receivable, Payment Processing, and Tax Divisions from late 2007 or early 2008 until July 2011. William Cerney (" Cerney" ) was the Deputy Director of Revenue's Tax Division from 1985 until January 2011.

Plaintiff began her employment with the City as an Auditor I in Revenue's Tax Division. Plaintiff believes that Cerney, who interviewed her for the Auditor I position, hired her into that position. While in the Tax Division, Plaintiff was promoted to the Auditor II position in November 1986, the Auditor III position in March 1988, the Auditor IV position in April 1989, and the Supervisor of Auditing position in March 1990. As a Supervisor of Auditing, Plaintiff initially worked in the Tax Division under Cerney and then " went to two other sections within the Department of Revenue" --Customer Service, which was supervised by Deputy Director William Kenan, and another section that Plaintiff cannot recall, which was supervised by Paul Vallas. In approximately 2004, Plaintiff went from Customer Service to the Tax Division under Cerney.

In 2008, Plaintiff reported to Manager of Tax Policy Gary Michals and supervised two employees in the bulk sales and taxi medallion unit of the Tax Division. Plaintiff's subordinates audited businesses and taxi medallions that were sold in the City of Chicago, and Plaintiff reviewed their work. Seven other Supervisors of Accounting worked in the Tax Division in 2008: Jamesine Braxton, Charles Brown, Tim Yung, Elaine Herman, Mark Pekic, Maureen McInerney, and Robert Rachowicz. Other than Plaintiff, McInerney was the only Supervisor of Auditing who reported to Michals. McInerney supervised

Page 799

five employees in the real property transfer tax unit of the Tax Division.

In 2001, Plaintiff was diagnosed with spinocerebellar ataxia, an incurable progressive neurological disease. Plaintiff did not inform the City about her medical condition in 2001. In the summer of 2007, Plaintiff began having trouble writing, walking, and speaking. In September 2007, Plaintiff spoke with Cerney about her medical leave. Cerney asked Plaintiff if she wanted to go on full disability, but she indicated that she " wanted to try short term first." Plaintiff requested and received a medical leave of absence for three months, from October 15, 2007 to January 16, 2008.

In January 2008, Plaintiff began to use a four wheel walker to assist her with walking. Although Plaintiff " could walk better" in 2008 " because of the physical therapy" that she received during her leave of absence, she could not walk without stumbling, her speaking ability did not improve, and her writing was " affected." Plaintiff testified that she decided at some point during the week of November 27, 2008, that she wanted to take medical leave in 2008.[1] During her deposition, Plaintiff testified that she had no reason to doubt that she told her doctor, Christopher Gomez, on November 21, 2008, that she was interested in going on disability because she had difficulty keeping up with her work. Plaintiff also testified that she had no reason to doubt that she told Dr. Gomez during the same visit that she was " finding it challenging to ...


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