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Dugas-Filippi v. JP Morgan Chase, N.A.

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

September 4, 2014

JP MORGAN CHASE, N.A., Defendant

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For Dori Dugas-Filippi, Robert Filippi, Plaintiffs, Counter Defendant: Scott A. Reinglass, Thomas Frank Cameli, Radogno, Cameli & Hoag, P.C., Chicago, IL.

For JP Morgan Chase, N.A., JP Morgan Chase & Co, Defendants, Counter Claimant, Counter Defendant: William Francis Dugan, LEAD ATTORNEY, Isabel Lazar, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, Chicago, IL; Lauren Suzanne Wachsman, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, Boston, MA.

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JOHN Z. LEE, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Dori Dugas-Filippi (" Dugas-Filippi" ) filed suit against Defendant JP Morgan Chase, N.A. (" Chase" ), her former employer, for various alleged wrongs stemming from her termination. Chase has moved for summary judgment on Dugas-Filippi's claims of breach of contract, promissory estoppel, fraud, and conversion. In turn, Dugas-Filippi has brought a cross-motion for summary judgment on her conversion claim. For the reasons provided herein, the Court denies Chase's motion as to Dugas-Filippi's breach of contract and promissory estoppel claims, grants Chase's motion as to Dugas-Filippi's fraud claim, and denies both parties' motions as to Dugas-Filippi's conversion claim.[1]

Factual Background

The following facts are undisputed, except where otherwise noted. Dugas-Filippi is a former employee of Chase, where she began working as an administrative specialist on or about October 29, 2001. Def.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Material Facts (" Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3)" ) ¶ ¶ 2, 5. On or about March 16, 2006, Dugas-Filippi was promoted to Senior Executive Assistant and began reporting to Chris Deveny (" Deveny" ), Managing Director of Investments for the Private Bank and head of the Midwest Private Bank in Chicago. Id. ¶ ¶ 6, 8. Deveny considered Dugas-Filippi an excellent employee and they shared a good working relationship. Id. ¶ 9.

In January 2007, Deveny and Dugas-Filippi had two conversations central to this dispute. Id. ¶ 29. In the first conversation, Dugas-Filippi requested a paid leave to take care of her ailing husband. Id. ¶ 30. Deveny responded that he would " think about it or look into it or something and let [her] know." Id. ¶ 31. Because Dugas-Filippi was an excellent employee, Deveny wanted to accommodate her request for scheduling flexibility. Pls.' Rule 56.1 Stmt. Material Facts (" Pls.' LR 56.1(b)(3)" ) ¶ 3.

The parties dispute what transpired at the second meeting. Dugas-Filippi does not recall the " exact words" or " exact conversation" that took place at the meeting. Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 32. She remembers, however, that Deveny told her (1) she could take a six-month, paid leave, (2) she would have a job when she returned, but possibly a different job, and (3) she would not be fired for taking the paid leave. Pls.' LR 56.1(b)(3) ¶ 5.[2] Deveny, on the

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other hand, denies promising Dugas-Filippi paid leave, or that she would not be fired for taking paid leave. According to Deveny, he approved only unpaid leave and promised only that Dugas-Filippi would have a job when she returned. Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 32.

The parties also dispute whether Deveny was authorized to grant Dugas-Filippi paid leave. Chase contends that its written policy addressing discretionary leave--available to employees on Chase's intranet--unambiguously denies the availability of paid discretionary leave. Id. ¶ ¶ 20, 23. Chase also notes that Dugas-Filippi received no documentation from Deveny acknowledging approval of her request for paid leave. Id. ¶ 34. Dugas-Filippi, on the other hand, argues that she trusted Deveny, given his position of authority as her manager, and believed he could grant paid leave in an effort to accommodate her request for scheduling flexibility. See Pls.' LR 56.1(b)(3) ¶ ¶ 2-3, 5.[3] She also states that in other instances, employees have received paid discretionary leave from Chase. Id. ¶ 11.[4]

Dugas-Filippi took her discretionary leave from Chase starting on February 5, 2007, continuing to August 5, 2007, and received compensation from Chase during that period. Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ ¶ 36-37. The parties dispute why Dugas-Filippi was paid during her leave. Chase asserts that " [e]ither someone at Chase did not process Dugas-Filippi's leave at all, or processed it incorrectly." Id. ¶ 37. Conversely, Dugas-Filippi maintains that Deveny promised her paid leave, and so Chase paid her during her leave. Pls.' Resp. Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 37. The parties agree, however, that upon Dugas-Filippi's return to Chase, she was placed in a new position, Trust Assistant, and reported to a different supervisor. Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 38. Dugas-Filippi viewed this new position as a " step down" from her previous position as a Senior Executive Assistant. Pls.' LR 56.1(b)(3) ¶ 23. Chase denies that the Trust Assistant position was a " step down." Def.'s Resp. Pls.' LR 56.1(b)(3) ¶ 23.

Chase subsequently discovered that it had not properly processed Dugas-Filippi's leave of absence. Def.'s LR 56.1(b)(3) ¶ 40. Chase then retroactively designated the leave as unpaid and requested that Dugas-Filippi repay the compensation she had received. Id. ¶ ¶ 40-41. She refused. Id. ¶ 42. From Dugas-Filippi's return in 2007 to her termination in 2009, Chase made numerous attempts to collect the

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compensation it paid her during her leave, but was refused. Pls.' LR 56.1(b)(3) ¶ 36.[5] During this period, Chase also paid Dugas-Filippi two bonuses, the first in 2008 for $7,000.00, and the second in 2009 for $8,000.00. Id. ¶ ¶ 25, 31.[6] According to one of Chase's human resources officers, Deveny arranged the bonuses in order to alleviate the financial pressure that Chase's repayment demand had placed on Dugas-Filippi. Id. ¶ ¶ 27-28.[7] Notwithstanding, Dugas-Filippi refused to repay the compensation she received during her leave. Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 47. Chase terminated Dugas-Filippi on October 29, 2009, for " refusing to repay funds that Chase believed should have been repaid." Id. ¶ 48.[8]

As an additional matter, Chase used part of the compensation paid to Dugas-Filippi during her leave to purchase 143.6199 shares of Chase common stock as part of Chase's Employee Stock Purchase Plan (" ESPP" ). Def.'s LR 56.1(b)(3) ¶ ¶ 51-52. Under the plan, eligible employees were allowed to purchase discounted Chase shares with their compensation. Id. ¶ 51. Employees would then sell or trade those shares, but were required to request a certificate describing the shares, which required some delay for administrative processing. Pls.' Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts Cross-Mot. Summ. J. ¶ 7.[9] When Chase discovered Dugas-Filippi's leave had not been processed properly, Chase advised her that it would " pull back" the shares, and did so. Id. ¶ ¶ 52, 54.[10]

The parties dispute whether Dugas-Filippi was qualified to participate in the ESPP while on leave, and how and if Dugas-Filippi controlled the 143.6199 shares. ...

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