United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division
November 28, 2015.
Ardeshir Lohrasbi, Plaintiff: Jonathan T Nessler, LEAD
ATTORNEY, LAW OFFICES OF FREDERIC W NESSLER & ASSOC,
University of Illinois, sued as Board of Trustees of
University of Illinois, University of Illinois, University of
Illinois, Springfield, University of Illinois, sued as Board
of Trustees of the University of Illinois at Springfield,
Defendants: Charles R Schmadeke, J William Roberts, HINSHAW &
CULBERTSON, Springfield, IL; Geri Lynn Arrindell, SANDBERG
PHOENIX & VON GONTARD PC, St Louis, MO.
the Court is Defendant Board of Trustees of the University of
Illinois's Renewed and Revised Motion for Summary
Judgment (d/e 37), pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure Rule 56. The MOTION is GRANTED because Plaintiff
Ardeshir Lohrasbi's claim is time-barred and the doctrine
of equitable tolling does not apply.
24, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court against
the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois ("
Defendant" ). Plaintiff claims he suffered adverse
employment actions based on Defendant's decisions to
serve him with a notice of trespass, to place him on
administrative leave pending an evaluation of his fitness to
work, and to deny him the status and benefits of Professor
Emiritus. These decisions, Plaintiff alleges, were
discriminatory actions motivated by Plaintiff's race and
is a citizen of the United States who was born in Iran.
Plaintiff suffers from essential tremors, a medical condition
causing him to shake. In 1980, he began working at the
University of Illinois at Springfield and, in 1986, he was
made a tenured professor. Plaintiff's last position at
the University of Illinois at Springfield was Associate
Professor of Business Administration in the College of
Business. The Springfield campus is part of the University of
Illinois system, 110 ILCS 327/40-5, which is governed by
Defendant, the Board of Trustees of the University of
Illinois, 110 ILCS 327/40-5.
of 2011, Plaintiff decided to retire and entered into a
Resignation Agreement with Defendant, to be effective
December 30, 2011. Plaintiff voluntarily signed the agreement
on June 16, 2011. Defendant, through the Dean of the College
of Business and Management, Ron McNeil, signed the agreement
on June 17, 2011. In consideration of Plaintiff's
retirement, Defendant agreed to pay Plaintiff a one-time
payment of $21,345, as well as compensation for other
research and teaching commitments previously made by
Plaintiff. The Resignation Agreement contained an integration
clause stating that " No amendment, modification or
alteration of this Agreement shall be binding unless in
writing, dated subsequent to the date hereof, and duly
executed by both parties hereto." Def. Renewed and
Revised Mot. Summ. J. (d/e 37-23) at 11-12.
27, 2011, Dean McNeil wrote a letter to Plaintiff advising
him that McNeil would inform the Chair of the Department of
Business Administration that McNeil was recommending
Plaintiff for emeritus status and that McNeil would endorse a
recommendation from the Department for such status. Def.
Renewed and Revised Mot. Summ. J. Exh. (d/e 37-23) at 16.
Additionally, the letter advised Plaintiff that " [i]t
is the College's plan and commitment" for Plaintiff
to continue to teach three sections per year, an option for
Professors Emeriti. Id. The letter was signed by
both Dean McNeil and Plaintiff.
August of 2011, Plaintiff communicated to Dean McNeil on at
least two occasions that Plaintiff would like to delay his
retirement or otherwise continue to teach in the spring
because of impending financial issues concerning a potential
recurrence of his wife's cancer. Dean McNeil notified
Interim Provost Lynn Pardie of Plaintiff's wishes to
delay retirement via memorandum on two occasions. Provost
Pardie later informed Dean McNeil that the University could
not grant Plaintiff's request because the University
would not alter the resignation agreement and faculty members
cannot be rehired within 60 days of retirement. It is unclear
when Plaintiff was notified of the University's decision.
November 14, 2011, Plaintiff was discussing the pending
decision regarding his retirement with Dean McNeil's
assistant, Patty Sanchez. At one point during the
conversation, Ms. Sanchez heard Plaintiff use the phrase
" maybe a machine gun," though she was unaware of
the context of the comment. Plaintiff maintains he was
referring to people using guns to commit suicide, as, earlier
that day, he had attended a celebration of life for his
friend and mentor Dennis Camp who had shot himself. Ms.
Sanchez did not feel threatened or concerned by the comment
or the conversation at the time. Over the following weekend,
Ms. Sanchez determined she should report Plaintiff's
comments. Ms. Sanchez reported the comment to the
University's Attorney Mark Henss.
result of Ms. Sanchez's reporting the comment, Chief of
the University Police, Donald Mitchell initiated a report and
assigned Officers Jerry Kuchar and Amanda Baughman to follow
up. During an interview with Plaintiff regarding the
incident, Chief Mitchell asked Plaintiff three questions
regarding the " machine gun" statement. Chief
Mitchell asked Plaintiff if Plaintiff made the utterance
" maybe a machine gun?" and Plaintiff responded
that he did not recall or that he did not know what the Chief
was talking about. It is not clear whether Chief Mitchell
provided any context for the question, such as when or to
whom Plaintiff allegedly made the utterance. Chief Mitchell
asked Plaintiff if he owned a gun, and Plaintiff responded
that he did not and that his culture did not allow for the
possession of a gun except in war. Chief Mitchell asked
Plaintiff if he felt like he wanted to hurt someone or
himself, and Plaintiff responded that he did not and he would
not kill himself because his wife had cancer and his family
would be left with nothing. According to Chief Mitchell, his
officers asked several other questions, and Plaintiff told
officers about the situation surrounding his retirement. Def.
Renewed and Revised Mot. Summ. J. Exh. (d/e 37-16) at 6-8.
Chief Mitchell stated that, during the interview, Plaintiff
appeared to be nervous, trembling, and sweaty, that his voice
went up and down, and Plaintiff could not stay focused on the
conversation. Id. at 5-7.
upon the statement reported by Ms. Sanchez, his interview
with Plaintiff, and the recent history of school shootings
nationally, Chief Mitchell decided to issue Plaintiff a
" Notice of Trespass" because Chief Mitchell
believed that Plaintiff was potentially a danger to the
University community. On November 28, 2015, after discussing
the " machine gun" comment, the University
Administration also decided to investigate. Dean McNeil was
asked to evaluate Plaintiff's behavior. Dean McNeil ran
into Plaintiff in the hallway later that day. The details of
the encounter are disputed, but Dean McNeil stated that he
found Plaintiff's behavior concerning and reported as
much to Provost Pardie. Dean ...