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Cameron v. State

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 21, 2016




         Plaintiffs bring this consolidated action alleging violations pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., 28 U.S.C. §1331 and 28 U.S.C. § 1367 (Doc. 53). Defendants moved for Summary Judgment (Doc. 76) and Plaintiffs filed a Response (Doc. 92). For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.


         According to the Statement of Facts filed by Defendants (Doc. 76-1) and adopted by Plaintiffs (Doc. 92-1), Plaintiffs were employed as members of the Illinois State Police South SWAT Team (“SWAT”) until mid-2011 when they voluntarily transferred to other positions (Doc. 76-1, p. 5-4 and p. 52-53). Prior to 2010, SWAT operations consisted primarily of the execution of search warrants (Id. at p. 12). In 2010, Illinois State Police command officers determined that SWAT team members should be trained for special operations in order to respond to terrorism and other critical incidents (Id. at p. 15). The military-style techniques and new training procedures demanded faster speeds which Plaintiff Clements (SWAT team leader) and Plaintiff Cameron (SWAT assistant team leader) felt compromised safety (Id. at p. 15-16). Around that time, Clements adopted a more authoritative attitude towards the team he led (Id. at p. 18) and at times was successful in slowing the team operators to a safer speed (Id. at p. 16). On some occasions, Clements felt that team operators circumvented the chain of command by discussing such matters with Defendant Kollins instead of Plaintiff Clements. Id.

         By the end of 2010, the team had become divided (Id. at p. 17). Plaintiffs Pisoni and Cameron testified at deposition that they heard Defendant Robinson state that the way to get rid of operators in the military was to isolate them (Id. at p. 29). Defendant Tolbert developed a plan to speak to team leadership only for work purposes, and several Plaintiffs testified at deposition that Tolbert stated “you are either with us or against us” (Id. at p. 30-31). Plaintiffs Kerley and Holsapple did not join in Tolbert's plan (Id. at p. 31).

         Plaintiff Pisoni recalled Tolbert referring to him and Clements and as “old bosses” in the fall of 2010 and believed that this phrase was in reference to the command staff (Id. at p. 32). In his deposition, Plaintiff Holsapple testified that Tolbert used the phrase “old guys, ” but Holsapple did not ask for clarification as to whether Tolbert was referring to operators over the age of 40. Id.

         Not included in the undisputed statement of facts is Plaintiff Lindsey's deposition testimony regarding a team meeting on June 15, 2011 at which Plaintiffs Kerley, Cameron and Clements were not present but non-team members Defendant Kollins (lieutenant) and Koerner (captain) were present (Doc. 92-12, p. 6). During the meeting, Tolbert and other operators stated that “SWAT wasn't a retirement home” and that “some of the older guys just need to move on” (Id. at p. 8-10). Lindsey further testified that a team member stated that younger guys would like to “climb the ladder” (get promoted) but could not as long as the older guys were on the team (Id. at p. 11-12).

         Counts I through VI of Plaintiffs'Joint Second Amended Complaint are brought under the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. and 28 U.S.C. § 1331, against Defendant Illinois State Police. In particular, Plaintiffs Cameron, Clements, Pisoni and Lindsey claim they were victims of age discrimination and retaliation. Plaintiffs Kerley and Holsapple claim they were subjected to retaliation because they refused to participate in discriminatory conduct[1]. All Plaintiffs claim Defendants' actions created a hostile work environment.

         Counts VII through XII are civil conspiracy claims wherein Plaintiffs allege that each of the seven individual defendants, in an effort to force Plaintiffs to leave SWAT, entered into an agreement to target older members of SWAT. Plaintiffs further allege that, as a result of this agreement and “tortious conduct, ” they suffered adverse employment actions, severe emotional distress and impairment of future employment opportunities.

         In Counts XIII through XVIII, Plaintiffs bring claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”) against each of the seven individual defendants. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that the intentional acts of the individual defendants in carrying out their plan to push Plaintiffs out of SWAT caused depression, emotional distress, sleep disruptions and anxiety. Additionally, Plaintiff Pisoni alleges in Count XVII that he incurred medical expenses for treatment of his depression and anxiety, including medication and treatment from a cardiologist. Defendants move for summary judgment on all counts.


         Summary judgment is appropriate where “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Spath v. Hayes Wheels Int'l-Ind., Inc., 211 F.3d 392, 396 (7th Cir. 2000). Where the moving party fails to meet its strict burden of proof, a court cannot enter summary judgment for the moving party even if the opposing party fails to present relevant evidence in response to the motion. Cooper v. Lane, 969 F.2d 368, 371 (7th Cir. 1992).

         In responding to a summary judgment motion, the nonmoving party may not simply rest upon the allegations contained in the pleadings but must present specific facts to show that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-26; Johnson v. City of Fort Wayne, 91 F.3d 922, 931 (7th Cir. 1996). A genuine issue of material fact is not demonstrated by the mere existence of “some alleged factual dispute between the parties, ” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986), or by “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, ” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists only if “a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the [nonmoving party] on the evidence presented.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. While all facts and inferences are taken in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, the nonmoving party cannot survive summary judgment if it is unable to establish an essential element of their claim on which it will bear the burden of proof at trial. Kidwell v. Eisenhauer, 679 F.3d 957, 964 (7th Cir. 2012).

         ADEA Discrimination and ...

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