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Trout v. Westmont

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

September 23, 2014

FRANK TROUT, Plaintiff,
v.
VILLAGE OF WESTMONT, a Municipal Corporation, Defendant

For Frank Trout, Plaintiff: Richard Francis Blass, LEAD ATTORNEY, Richard F. Blass & Associates LLC, Elmhurst, IL.

For Village of Westmont, a Municipal Corporation, William Rahn, In his official capacity as Mayor and Individually, Sue Senicka, Bob Scott, Lee Fleming, Virginia Szymski, Steven T Nero, Ellen K Emery, Patricia Klebenow, in their official capacity as Trustees and Individually, Ron Searl, in his official capacity as Village Manager and Individually, Defendants: Lawrence Jay Weiner, LEAD ATTORNEY, Joseph Michael Gagliardo, Matthew Patrick Kellam, Laner Muchin, Ltd., Chicago, IL.

Page 962

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Rebecca R. Pallmeyer, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Frank Trout was the Fire Chief for the Village of Westmont until January 17, 2012, when he was terminated for misconduct. Following his termination, Trout brought this action, alleging that the Village owes him unpaid compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act and related state law guarantees, and under the terms of a contract between Trout and the Village. The court earlier granted judgment on the pleadings in favor of the Village officials Trout had named as Defendants in their individual capacity. [Order of March 13, 2013 [22].) The Village now seeks summary judgment. Because Trout was exempt from the protections of FLSA, as explained below, the court grants summary judgment in favor of the Village on that claim. The court concludes his contract claim fails, as well, because Trout himself terminated the agreement.

FACTS

The Village's motion for summary judgment is supported by a Statement of Uncontested Facts, including citations to the record, as required by our Local Rule 56.1 ( See Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. [35].) That Rule directs the non-moving party to respond and to include, for any disputes, a citation to the record in support of the non-moving party's position on that issue. Plaintiff Trout, who is represented by counsel, has submitted a responsive statement pursuant to LR 56.1(b)(3) [45], but has not supported his denials with record citations in all instances. In any event, as set forth here, the facts are largely undisputed.

Plaintiff Trout worked as the Fire Chief for the Westmont Fire Department from January 5, 1993 until January 17, 2012. (Plaintiff's Response to Def.'s 56.1 Statement [45] ¶ 7.] During Trout's tenure, Raymond Botch served as Village Manager until October 1, 2003, and Ronald Searl became Village Manager (initially in an acting capacity) thereafter. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 4, 5.) Before becoming Chief, Trout worked for the Westmont Fire Department as a " paid on call" fire fighter beginning in 1989 and as Deputy Chief and Administrative Officer beginning in 1990. ( Id. ¶ 8.)

Page 963

In 1995, the Village established the " Duty Officer" program, a program that required that one officer be assigned to be on call for a shift at all times. The Duty Officer was expected to remain within a three-mile radius of the Village during his shift in order to respond promptly to serious emergencies or alarms, inspect buildings and equipment, meet with fire fighters to plan shift work, and oversee training. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 9, 10, 13.) The only employees eligible to serve as Duty Officer were the Fire Chief, Deputy Chiefs, and Captains and, at least on some occasions, the Department's Administrative Director and Fire Prevention Bureau Director. ( Id. ¶ 11; Plaintiff's Statement of Additional Facts [45, pages 19-20] ¶ 1; Exhibits A, B.) An officer assigned to a Duty Officer shift could be on or off duty in his primary capacity, as well; no individual was employed solely to serve as Duty Officer. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ ¶ 11, 12.) The Village currently classifies the Fire Chief as an exempt employee, not eligible for additional compensation for hours worked as Duty Officer, but classifies the Deputy Chiefs and Captains as non-exempt employees who do receive additional compensation for those hours. ( Id. ¶ 14.) (Plaintiff disputes this but cites no record evidence to rebut it. (Trout's Response to Def.'s 56.1 Statement ¶ 14.).)

Plaintiff's Responsibilities

As Fire Chief, Plaintiff was the highest-ranking officer In the Fire Department. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt ¶ 17.) In that capacity, Plaintiff was responsible for significant management responsibilities:

o Planning and direction of activities and services for fighting fires, for providing emergency services, for enforcing the Fire Prevention Code, and for education and public awareness
o Creation and revision of department policies
o Direction of equipment and manpower in response to emergency medical and rescue calls
o Serving as Duty Officer when necessary
o Inspecting buildings for code compliance
o Representing the Village at meetings with boards of three fire districts
o Attending and representing the Fire Department at meetings of the Village Board of Trustees and the Village ...

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