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Julin v. Advanced Equities, Inc.

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

November 4, 2014

LISA JULIN, Plaintiff,
v.
ADVANCED EQUITIES, INC., ADVANCED EQUITIES FINANCIAL CORPORATION, JEFFERY ALAN BINKERT, and DOES 1-15, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JAMES F. HOLDERMAN, District Judge.

On December 19, 2013, plaintiff Lisa Julin ("Julin") filed a form "Complaint for Employment Discrimination" against her former employer, Advanced Equities, Inc. ("AEI"), and its parent company, Advanced Equities Financial Corporation ("AEFC"), alleging that AEI and AEFC discriminated against her on the basis of her sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Dkt. No. 1.) On April 30, 2014, AEI and AEFC moved to dismiss Julin's complaint pursuant to Federal Rules Civil Procedure 12(b)(5) and 12(b)(6), arguing in part that Julin had served the wrong person. (Dkt. No. 10.) Julin appeared pro se at the hearing on defendants' motion but told the court she was in the process of retaining counsel. (Dkt. No. 13.) Based on that representation, the court did not set a briefing schedule and allowed Julin until June 6, 2014 to find an attorney. ( Id. )

On the June 6 deadline, rather than obtaining counsel, Julin filed a motion requesting a court-appointed attorney even though she had not sought-and did not seek- in forma pauperis status. (Dkt. No. 14.) The court denied Julin's request (Dkt. No. 15) and ordered her to respond to defendants' motion to dismiss by July 15, 2014 (Dkt. No. 16). On July 15, an attorney filed an appearance on Julin's behalf and sought an extension, which the court granted. (Dkt. Nos. 17, 18, 20.) Julin, through her counsel, filed her response on July 22, 2014. (Dkt. No. 21.) AEI and AEFC replied on August 5, 2014. (Dkt. No. 22.) On August 6, however, Julin sought leave to amend her complaint, partly to "cure[ ] defects pointed to in [AEI and AEFC's] pending [m]otion to [d]ismiss." (Dkt. No. 23 at 2.) The court again obliged, granted Julin's motion, and mooted the pending motion to dismiss. (Dkt. No. 25.)

Julin's first amended complaint ("Amended Complaint") (Dkt. No. 26 ("Am. Compl.")) named additional defendants, Jeffery Alan Binkert and Does 1-15, and broadened the Title VII claim from Julin's form complaint into 15 "causes of action": (1) fraud in the inducement; (2) breach of contract - written, oral and implied; (3) intentional interference with contractual rights; (4) interference with prospective economic advantage; (5) violation of the Illinois Wage Payment & Collection Act; (6) conversion; (7) unjust enrichment; (8) accounting; (9) sex discrimination; (10) violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and Title VII; (11) sexual harassment; (12) defamation per se; (13) retaliatory discharge; (14) failure to supervise; (15) respondeat superior.[1]

AEI and AEFC have again moved to dismiss Julin's claims against them pursuant to Rule 12(b)(5) and 12(b)(6). (Dkt. No. 34.) On October 30, 2014, the date Julin's response was due, Julin filed a motion for leave to file an oversized brief and attached as an exhibit her proposed response to defendants' motion to dismiss. (Dkt. Nos. 36, 36-1.) The court granted Julin's motion, (Dkt. No. 38), but Julin has failed to file her response as a separate docket entry as of the date of this Memorandum Opinion and Order. AEI and AEFC need not reply. For the reasons explained below, AEI and AEFC's motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 34) is granted.

RELEVANT FACTUAL BACKGROUND[2]

This matter arises out of Julin's employment and eventual termination by AEI. AEI is a venture capital firm specializing in late-stage private equity placements with a focus on the technology sector. (Am. Compl. ¶ 13.) AEI is a wholly-owned subsidiary of AEFC, which is a "diversified financial services organization, " specializing in private equity placements for emerging companies in the technology, health care, and biotech fields. ( Id. ¶ 12.) According to Julin's Amended Complaint, AEFC functions primarily as a holding company for a number of subsidiaries, one of which is AEI. ( Id. ¶ 8a.)

In early 2009, Julin accepted an offer of employment from AEI, entered into a written employment agreement with AEI, and began working as an investment advisor in AEI's Chicago, Illinois office. ( Id. ¶ 19.) By April 2012, the relationship had soured because of disputes concerning Julin's compensation and a pattern of "discriminatory and unethical conduct" towards her because of her sex. ( Id. ¶¶ 22-51.)

Many of Julin's allegations concern her treatment by defendant Jeffrey Binkert ("Binkert"), who ran Julin's "team" within AEI. ( Id. ) Julin complained about Binkert's conduct to both Dwight Badger ("Badger"), AEI's chief executive officer, and Byron Crowe ("Crowe"), AEI's president, but she received no relief. ( Id. ¶ 51.) Instead, Binkert retaliated against Julin for reporting his harassing and discriminatory conduct by disparaging her performance to AEI's human resources department and contacting Julin's clients to disparage her performance at AEI. ( Id. ¶¶ 68-75.)

On November 15, 2012, AEI terminated Julin's employment as part of a larger layoff, although Julin was the only "top 10 adviser" who lost her job. ( Id. ¶¶ 80-81.) On July 11, 2013, Julin filed a charge of discrimination against AEI with the EEOC and received a "right to sue" letter on September 20, 2013. ( Id. ¶¶ 84-85.) On December 19, 2013, exactly 90 days after receiving her right to sue letter, Julin filed this lawsuit. (Dkt. No. 1.)

On April 9, 2014, Julin successfully had her summons and complaint served on AEFC's registered agent, Mitchell D. Goldsmith. (Dkt. No. 7.) On April 11, 2014, Julin also had AEI's former President, Byron Crowe, served at his home in Downers Grove, Illinois. (Dkt. No. 7-1.) Julin's process server described Crowe as AEI's "President and Authorized Person, " but that description is inconsistent with the server's own affidavit, which states:

A male identified himself as Byron Crowe, but stated that he was no longer affiliated with the subject corporation and therefore would not accept the documents. I told him that his name and address were on the documents and that if he did not accept, that I would have to leave them anyway. Byron still would not accept, so I placed the documents on floor of the inside of the residence and told him that he was served.

(Dkt. No. 7-1 at 1.) Crowe has since filed an affidavit confirming the accuracy of his comments to Julin's process server. (Dkt. No. 36-1.) Although Crowe was formerly the President of AEI from October 2012 to December 2013, he has not been employed by AEI in any capacity since December 18, 2013. ( Id. ¶ 2-3.)

According to the record before the court, Julin has not made any further attempts to effectuate service upon AEI, Jeffery Binkert, or the unnamed "Does" who allegedly ...


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