United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. LEE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Carmen Consolino, an employee of the Cook County
Sheriff's Office, filed suit against Thomas Dart, Brian
Towne, and Robert Egan in their individual capacities. The
only remaining count in Consolino's complaint asserts a
First Amendment retaliation claim against all Defendants
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants filed a motion
for summary judgment . For the reasons provided below,
the Court grants the motion.
Thomas Dart is the Cook County Sheriff. See
Defs.' LR 56.1 ¶ 4, ECF No. 71. Defendant Brian
Towne was his Chief of Staff at the time the events in this
case took place. See Id. Defendant Robert Egan is
the Compliance Officer at the Cook County Sheriff's
Office and oversees and monitors employment actions within
the Sheriff's Office. See Id. ¶ 5.
Carmen Consolino was employed by the Sheriff's office and
worked at the Cook County Department of Corrections. See
Id. ¶ 1. In 1998, Consolino started working at the
Boot Camp, an alternative sentencing program that offers
military discipline structure, education, and counseling for
nonviolent offender inmates. See Id. ¶ 2.
wife, Jennifer Trzos, who also worked at the Boot Camp, filed
a Shakman complaint, which was presented to an
arbitrator. See Defs.' LR 56.1 ¶ 59;
Pl.'s Resp. LR 56.1 ¶ 59(1), ECF No. 84 (disputing
Defendants' paragraph 59 on other grounds). At the
hearing, Consolino was a witness called by his wife's
attorney. See Shakman Hr'g Day 2 at 7:13-24,
Pl.'s Ex. 29, ECF No. 87.
around the same time of the Shakman hearing,
Consolino was told by a friend of his at the FBI of a
potential opening for a position on an FBI Task Force.
See Defs.' LR 56.1 ¶¶ 20-21.
Occasionally, employees from the Cook County Sheriff's
Office are assigned to FBI Task Forces. In those instances,
the County continues to pay the employee's salary and, in
return, the Sheriff's Office benefits by having the
employee acquire new skills. See Id. ¶¶ 9,
15. There is no written procedure for assigning an employee
of the Sheriff's Office to an FBI Task Force.
See Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) ¶ 29, ECF No.
86; Defs.' Resp. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) ¶ 29,
ECF No. 105. Instead, the FBI typically would send a written
communication to the Sheriff's Office requesting a
candidate or a list of candidates to serve on a Task Force.
The FBI would then conduct a background check to determine
whether it will accept the employee. See Defs.'
LR 56.1 ¶ 6.
Consolino's case, his friend at the FBI, Special Agent
Davis Christy, spoke with a supervisor at the FBI about the
possibility Consolino joining the Task Force. See
Defs.' LR 56.1 ¶ 28. The supervisor told Ricardo
Pagan, the head of the FBI's Human Intelligence Branch in
Chicago, that Consolino was approved by Cook County and
Sheriff Dart to join the Task Force. See Id. ¶
29. Based on that mistaken belief, the FBI sent a letter to
the Sheriff's Office specifically requesting Consolino.
See Id. ¶ 34.
the Sheriff's Office took no action after the letter was
sent, Consolino took advantage of a visit by Dart to the Boot
Camp to ask him about the status of the request. See
Id. ¶ 36. Dart told him to talk to his supervisor.
weeks after his conversation with Dart, Consolino tried a
different approach. He contacted Egan in the hopes of getting
more information about how to proceed. See Id.
¶ 39. Egan spoke with Joseph Ways-a Sheriff's Office
employee who used to work at the FBI-who contacted Pagan at
the FBI to inquire about the request. During the conversation
between Ways and Pagan, the truth about Consolino's lack
of approval from the Sheriff's Office came to light.
See Id. ¶ 42. At this point, the story becomes
unclear. Ways came away from the conversation with the
understanding that, because Consolino did not have the
Sheriff's approval, the FBI rescinded the offer. See
Id. ¶ 45. Pagan's recollection was not so
unequivocal. Pagan says he told Ways that Consolino had not
followed protocol and that, if Consolino was resubmitted as a
candidate, the FBI would consider him. See Pl.'s
Resp. LR 56.1 ¶ 45. Regardless of what exactly was said
during that conversation, Ways went back to Egan and told him
that the FBI had rescinded their offer because Consolino had
failed to follow protocol. See Defs.' LR 56.1
¶ 47. Egan passed the message along to Consolino.
See Id. ¶ 48.
then sent an email to Dart and Towne explaining that, since
his conversation with Egan, he had checked with the FBI and
the request had not been rescinded. Consolino requested
clarification. See Email to Dart & Towne,
Pl.'s Ex. 20.
few more months without a response, Consolino filed a
complaint with the Office of Professional Review (OPR), the
organization that investigates complaints against employees
of the Sheriff's Office. See Defs.' LR 56.1
¶ 52. The complaint alleged that the Sheriff's
Office had failed to act on his assignment to the FBI because
Consolino had testified at the Shakman hearing.
See Complaint Register, Pl.'s Ex. 5 at Sheriff
309. Because the complaint was against Ways, who worked for
OPR, and named Egan, who worked for the Compliance Office, as
a witness, Consolino did not want either entity to perform
the investigation. See Consolino Dep. at 55:8-19,
Pl.'s Ex. 32; Complaint Register, Pl.'s Ex. 5 at
Sheriff 309. The investigation was ultimately conducted by
Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Maureen Hannon.
See Defs.' LR 56.1 ¶ 57. Hannon concluded
that the complaint was not well-founded and that there was no
apparent link between Consolino's testimony at the
Shakman hearing and his not being assigned to the
FBI Task Force. See Id. ¶ 58.
to that determination, Consolino was transferred from the
Boot Camp to Division XI. See Id. ¶ 78.