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A.J. v. Butler Illinois School District 53

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

December 19, 2019

A.J. and R.J., Minor Children, by RAHUL JULKA, their Father and Next Friend, RAHUL JULKA, and KOMAL JULKA Plaintiff,
v.
Butler Illinois School District 53, et al., Defendants.

          BOARD OF EDUCATION OF BUTLER SCHOOL DISTRICT 53, ALAN HANZLIK HEIDI WENNSTROM and KELLY VOLIVA Darcy L. Proctor One of the Attorneys for Defendants

          Hon. Judge Matthew Kennelly

          DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW

          SUSAN COX, MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         NOW COMES the Defendant, the Board of Education of Butler School District 53 (“the Board”), Kelly Voliva, Alan Hanzlik and Heidi Wennstrom, by and through their attorneys, Wiedner & McAuliffe, Ltd., and for their Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law pursuant to Rule 50(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, states the following:

         INTRODUCTION

         Defendants move for judgment as a matter of law because Plaintiffs have failed to produce sufficient evidence to support a jury verdict in their favor. First, the Board is entitled to judgment as a matter of law because Plaintiff R.J. failed to present any evidence that: (1) he had any role in the grievance process initiated by his parents, (2) he was aware at any time of the alleged retaliatory acts such that a student in his position would be deterred from engaging in similar speech, (3) that any negative materials were inserted into his file, or (4) that the conduct would not have occurred if not for his grievance. Second, evidence of the Defendants' conduct individually, and in the case of the Board as a whole, does not rise to the level of extreme and outrageous conduct necessary to be actionable on Plaintiffs' IIED claims. Third, the evidence is insufficient as a matter of law to establish that any one of the Plaintiffs suffered severe emotional distress as a result of the Defendants' conduct. As such, Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Rule 50(a) on all remaining Counts of Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A judgment may be entered as a matter of law if a party has been fully heard on an issue during a jury trial and there is no legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find for that party on that issue. Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a). The evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and the Court must determine whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain a verdict in favor of the non-moving party. Hammond Group, Ltd. V. Spalding & Evenflo Companies, Inc., 69 F.3d 845, 848 (7th Cir. 1995). A motion for judgment as a matter of law may be made at any time before the case is submitted to the jury. Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a)(2).

         ARGUMENT

         I. The evidence is insufficient as a matter of law for a reasonable jury to find in favor of Plaintiffs as to their First Amendment Retaliation claim against the Board of Education.

         A. The evidence is insufficient as a matter of law that the Board created or inserted any negative materials into his student file.[1]

         This Court should enter judgment for the Board as a matter of law because there is insufficient evidence that any documents were created or inserted into R.J.'s student file. Rather, the testimony from Defendants was unrebutted and establishes that the “negative materials” always existed and were entitled or permitted to be there under the Illinois School Student Records Act. Plaintiff counsel's questioning of Kelly Voliva about the “blue slip” demonstrates this point. Plaintiff's counsel showed Mrs. Voliva two copies of the front page of the blue slip, one that was produced by the School, which contained a bates label at the bottom right of the page, and one that was not produced by the School in this litigation, which did not contain a bates label. The document with the bates label cut off the majority of an arrow that Mrs. Voliva had written on the bottom right of the page, which was visible in the copy that was not produced in this litigation. It is clear that this is what occurred from even a cursory review of the two documents, and yet, Plaintiff R.J.'s attorney went to great lengths to try to show that this was evidence of some nebulous scheme by the School to create “negative” documents. This argument establishes that the only “support” Plaintiff R.J. is conjecture.

         II. Each Defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiffs' IIED claims because the evidence is insufficient to establish any Defendant's conduct was extreme and outrageous.

         Under Illinois law, to succeed on a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant's conduct was extreme and outrageous. Sabol v. WalterPayton Coll. Prep. H.S., 804 F.Supp.2d 747, 758 (N.D. Ill. 2011). Extreme and outrageous behavior must be conduct “that goes beyond all possible bounds of decency.” Hearon v. City ofChicago, 157 Ill.App.3d 633, 637 (1st Dist. 1987). Liability does not extend to mere insults, indignities, threats, annoyances, petty oppressions, or other trivialities. Id; Restatement (Second) of Torts ยง 46 cmt. d (1965). When a defendant in an action for emotional distress is accused of improperly using a position of power or authority, courts view this allegation in conjunction with another significant ...


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