Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Sansone v. Brennan

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

September 7, 2017

MEGAN BRENNAN, Postmaster General, Defendant.


          Milton I. Shadur Senior United States District Judge.

         Anthony Sansone ("Sansone") began working for the United States Postal Service ("Postal Service") more than 35 years ago, a career that culminated in his highly commendable service over a period in excess of three decades at the Postal Service's very large Bulk Mail Center (the "Center") in Forest Park, Illinois and that in turn led to his 1997 promotion to the position of Supervisor of Maintenance at that major facility. Sansone's excellent performance of that further responsibility continued without incident -- as this Court's April 14, 2015 memorandum opinion and order stated as an uncontroverted fact in the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment:

In his entire time with the Postal Service Sansone never received any kind of warning or reprimand about his job performance.

         Indeed, Sansone's admirable record merits extra kudos because he has suffered from a major disability, multiple sclerosis, that caused him to lose virtually all use of his legs in 1999, rendering him wheelchair-bound. But that misfortune did not impair his job performance -- instead, as the same April 2015 opinion went on to recount the uncontroverted facts:

After he lost the use of his legs, Sansone drove to work each morning in a specially equipped van that he could operate entirely with his hands and that had a ramp that deployed from the passenger side to enable Sansone to enter and leave the van in his wheelchair. To accommodate the van and ensure that Sansone could easily enter and leave the BMC, the Postal Service permitted him to park in a specific space on the western side of the BMC between dock doors 29 and 30. That space was special because it was next to a marked crosswalk, leaving sufficient space to deploy the wheelchair ramp. It was also adjacent to a loading ramp that extended from ground level to an automated doorway, permitting Sansone to come into and go out of the building with ease. Once in the building Sansone switched from his wheelchair to a motorized scooter, which facilitated his ability to move around the BMC and to operate manual doors.

         That arrangement continued, also without incident, for a dozen years from 1999 to 2011. But that entirely workable accommodation to the existence and circumstances of Sansone's disability came to an abrupt halt when the Postal Service's newly-minted Plant Manager Ruby Branch ("Branch"), who had worked at the Center only since 2010, saw Sansone's van at its long-permitted parking space and, after an inquiry that identified the van's owner, immediately ordered that Sansone's parking in that space was prohibited. That snap decision[1] was never retracted, and the trial jury verdict in Sansone's favor plainly reflected its reasonable judgment that Branch's later proffered support for her decision essentially amounted to "don't trouble me with the facts -- my mind is already made up."[2]

         With the substantive merits of the litigants' dispute having been resolved by the jury in Sansone's favor, the quantification of his recovery is the responsibility of this Court. On that score the parties have trained their sights on the extent, if any, that the government's obligation should be reduced because of Sansone's receipt of funds emanating in part from the government -- a question that they have categorized in terms of whether and to what extent the "collateral source" doctrine should apply. What follows here is an analysis of the elements of recovery to which Sansone is entitled -- and as will be seen, in that context the parties' focus on "collateral source" issues makes little sense.

         That analysis must begin with the fact that the funds received by Sansone emanated from Sansone himself as well as from the government -- under the Civil Service Retirement System ("CSRS") devised by the government, as well described in the first three paragraphs of the "Parties' Stipulation Regarding CSRS" (Dkt. No. 126):

1. The Civil Service Retirement System ("CSRS") and the Federal Employees' Retirement System ("FERS") are defined benefit pension plans for civilian federal employees, all of whom contribute to a general U.S. Treasury fund that is managed and invested by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management ("OPM").
2. CSRS takes the place of Social Security for employees who are covered by its provisions. All wages paid by the federal government to civil servants covered by CSRS are not assessed Social Security taxes and recipient employees do not accrue credits toward Social Security benefits for these wages.
3. Since 1969, CSRS-covered employees have contributed 7 percent of their pay to CSRS during the lifetime of their employment. Each employing agency is required to contribute an additional amount determined by statute, and subject to OPM interpretation, to fund its employer obligations to the CSRS fund.

         And as will be seen, the contributions from both sources are an integral part of government employees' (here Sansone's) compensation, to which the notion of "collateral source" simply does not apply.

         Surprisingly, both Sansone and the Postal Service seek to rely on the decision in United States Can Co. v. NLRB, 254 F.3d 626 (7th Cir. 2001) in claimed support of their opposing arguments on the applicability or nonapplicability of the "collateral source" doctrine. But what is most significant for current purposes is the recognition in United States Can, id. at 633-34 of the Court of Appeals' earlier decision in EEOC v. O'Grady, 857 F.2d 383, 391 (7th Cir. 1988), which teaches in relevant part:

We do not agree with defendants' arguments that the pension payments in this case should be offset. First, the pension benefits may be viewed as earned by the claimants and therefore not paid by the employer at all. Like an insurance policy provided by an employer, the pension benefits here were part of the claimants' compensation. See In re Air Crash Disaster Near Chicago, Illinois, On May 25, 1979, 809 F.2d 304, 308 (7th Cir. 1986) ("[I]nsurance was as much a part of the compensation [the ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.