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Gustafson v. Thomas

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

December 16, 2014

RENEE D. GUSTAFSON, Plaintiff,
v.
MYRON K. THOMAS, in his official capacity; and WILLIAM ADKINS, in his official capacity, Defendants

Page 877

For Renee D Gustafson, Plaintiff: Anthony James Masciopinto, LEAD ATTORNEY, Kulwin, Masciopinto & Kulwin, LLP, Chicago, IL USA.

For Myron K Thomas, in his Individual Capacity, Defendant: Barton James O'Brien, Sherri L. Thornton-Pierce, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Michael D. Froelich, Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, Chicago, IL USA.

For William Adkins, in his Individual Capacity, Defendant: Matthew David Tanner, LEAD ATTORNEY, Roeser Bucheit & Graham LLC, Chicago, IL USA.

Page 878

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Hon. JOHN Z. LEE, United States District Judge.

Defendant William Adkins[1] moves for summary judgment asserting qualified immunity from Plaintiff Renee D. Gustafson's claims that he violated her constitutional rights when he installed covert video surveillance equipment in an office where Plaintiff and other female employees changed clothing. Defendant attests that he had no knowledge of the use of the office as a changing room, that this use of the office was not common knowledge at the workplace, and that therefore he committed no constitutional violation. Defendant also argues that the law was not clearly established with respect to searches and seizures in public sector workplaces. Plaintiff attests the opposite, i.e., that Defendant knew the office was used as a changing room, that this use was common knowledge in the workplace, and that the law regarding searches and seizures in the public sector workplace was clearly established.

For the reasons provided herein, the Court finds that disputed issues of material fact exist and that the applicable law was clearly established at the time of the alleged violation. Defendant's motion is denied.

I. Factual Background

Plaintiff Renee D. Gustafson worked in the Police and Security Service at the Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Chicago. See Def's. Rule 56.1(b)(3) Stat. Mat. Facts (" Def.'s Mat. Facts" ) ¶ 1. Gustafson brings this lawsuit under Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 397, 91 S.Ct. 1999, 29 L.Ed.2d 619 (1971), alleging that Defendants William Adkins and Myron K. Thomas violated her constitutional rights. Specifically, Gustafson alleges Defendants' installation of covert video surveillance equipment in the old supervisors' office (the " office" ) at the Medical Center, where female officers changed their clothes, violated her Fourth Amendment rights. According to Gustafson, Defendants installed the covert security camera in the office without authorization and with full knowledge that female officers used the office as a changing room, and thereafter Defendants used a digital recording device to capture images of her and other officers undressing. See Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 16-24. The Court previously denied Defendants' motion to dismiss the case. See Aug. 17, 2013 Ord. (denying motion arguing that the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, 5 U.S.C. § 2301 et seq. and the Federal Employees' Compensation Act, 5 U.S.C. § 8101 et seq. barred Plaintiff's Bivens claims).

The parties submitted their respective Local Rule 56.1(b)(3) factual statements, and several basic facts are undisputed. Adkins worked as a Detective with the Police and Security Service at the Medical Center. Def.'s Mat. Facts ¶ 3. Thomas formerly served as Chief of the Police and Security Service and supervised Adkins. Id. ¶ 2. Gustafson and Adkins agree that, during the time of the events relevant to this case, the office was used actively as a supervisors' office; all supervisors in the Police and Security Service, whether male or female, used the office, and all had keys to the office. Id. ¶ 6. Gustafson further offers that, from 2007 through September 2009, only four supervisors, two female and two male, possessed keys to the door lock and made use of the office. See Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s Mat. Facts. ¶ 6. Adkins does not dispute this fact. The parties also appear to agree that Adkins installed the covert video surveillance equipment in May 2007.

Beyond these basic facts, Gustafson and Adkins disagree about the circumstances surrounding the use of the office as a changing room by female officers and, importantly, Adkins' knowledge concerning that use. Adkins avers he lacked awareness that anyone used the office to change clothes, and until asked a question about this in September 2009 during a Veteran's Affairs Investigation of the underlying incident, he had never heard of such a practice. Def.'s Mat. Facts ¶ 7. Relatedly, Adkins attests that, during the time period pertaining to the allegations, male and female Police and Security Service personnel had their own conveniently located locker rooms. Def.'s Mat. Facts ¶ 8.

Gustafson disagrees. She offers four additional facts contesting Adkins' state of knowledge and the clothes-changing arrangements at the Medical Center. First, Gustafson attests that, during the time period relevant to the lawsuit and prior to 2007, there was no female locker room for Police and Security Service personnel to don and doff their uniforms before and after shifts, and therefore it was common knowledge that female personnel used the office to ...


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