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Moore v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division

December 22, 2016

KEIRAND R. MOORE, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          JONATHAN E. HAWLEY, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Now before the Court is the Defendant, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company's (“State Farm”), motion for summary judgment (D. 40) and the pro se Plaintiff, Keirand Moore's, response thereto (D. 48). For the reasons stated, infra, State Farm's motion is granted.[1]

         I

         A

         As alleged in the Complaint, Moore worked at State Farm until he was fired in April 2014. He claims he was denied an opportunity for a promotion to a “Service Level Liaison” position because he is black and also due to State Farm's retaliation against him for filing internal complaints regarding State Farm's racism as well as administrative charges of racial discrimination and retaliation with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”).

         The Complaint also alleges that State Farm failed to reasonably accommodate Moore's illness, namely his Crohn's disease. In particular, State Farm allegedly did not “adjust [Moore's] workload even though [State Farm] knew that [he] was seriously ill and out on sick leave frequently.” Further, State Farm allegedly assigned him new tasks even though Moore was working from home; that new assignment caused him stress that exacerbated his illness. Additionally, Moore claims State Farm “constantly harassed [Moore] about productivity even though [his] symptoms were such that [he] could not produce the same amount of work as [his] healthier counterparts.” Finally, Moore claims that one of his co-workers assaulted and battered him following a meeting, and former co-workers defamed him during the IDHR's investigation of his case.

         State Farm previously moved to dismiss the portion of Moore's Complaint alleging disability discrimination, arguing that Moore failed to exhaust his administrative remedies by failing to raise this claim with the IDHR or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Judge Sara L. Darrow denied that motion, finding that the issue was better suited for consideration on a motion for summary judgment in which State Farm could “provide greater background regarding whether Moore has filed any other IDHR or EEOC charges during the relevant time period.” (D. 27 at p. 8).

         State Farm has now filed such a motion, arguing that it is entitled to summary judgment on Moore's American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) claim because of his failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Additionally, State Farm argues that it is entitled to summary judgment on Moore's Illinois defamation claim because the alleged statements forming the basis of that claim are privileged. (D. 40 at p. 1). Moore responds to the exhaustion argument by challenging the fairness of the IDHR investigation. (D. 48 at pp. 8-9). Moore responds to State Farm's argument concerning the defamation claim by challenging the characterization of those making the alleged statements as “co-workers, ” although he also acknowledges that the individuals in fact work for State Farm. (D. 48 at pp. 5-7). He also discusses at length the nature of the alleged statements and the harm they allegedly caused him. Id.

         B

         The undisputed facts demonstrate that Moore filed five charges of discrimination with the IDHR and EEOC. A review of all these documents clearly demonstrates that in none of them did Moore ever make a claim related to a disability or disability discrimination; all of his claims were based on race discrimination or retaliation related thereto. (D. 40-1). Additionally, Moore in his response nowhere asserts that he raised a claim of disability discrimination before the IDHR or EEOC. (D. 48 at pp. 1-4).

         Regarding the defamation claim, the Complaint alleges that State Farm employees Omar West and Jenna Hillesheim defamed Moore by testifying falsely in the IDHR proceedings that Moore had a poor performance history. (D. 1 at p. 4). It is undisputed that both West and Hillesheim are State Farm employees and whatever statements they may have made at issue in this case were made during the course of the administrative proceedings. (D. 48 at pp. 4-8).

         II

         A

         Summary judgment is appropriate “if 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 also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317');">7477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The moving party has the burden of providing proper documentary evidence to show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323- 24 (1986). Once the moving party has met its burden, the opposing party must come forward with specific evidence, not mere allegations or denials of the pleadings, which demonstrates that there is a genuine issue for trial. Gracia v. Volvo Europa Truck, N.V., 112 F.3d 291, 294 (7th Cir. 1997). “[A] party moving for summary ...


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