Saline Township, former supervisor seek to dismiss parts of groping suits

Amelia Flood Apr. 6, 2010, 11:35am

Former Saline Township Supervisor Alvin Steiner, battling five separate suits over alleged groping and molestation, is moving to dismiss parts of the plaintiffs' complaints.

Steiner moved April 1 to dismiss counts of plaintiffs Elizabeth Watkins and Laura Barry's complaints.

Just days before, Saline Township moved to dismiss parts of plaintiff Jamie Miener's suit against it.

In each suit, the plaintiff alleges that Steiner, then township supervisor, groped and molested them when they went to the township offices seeking utility and other public aid.

The suits each seek damages of at least $50,000 in damages and punitive damages.

Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth presides over four of the five suits to date. He will hear motions in the Watkins and Barry cases April 15 and April 30.

Saline Township moved March 24 to dismiss counts of a second suit filed against it and Steiner by plaintiff Jamie Miener.

Plaintiff Ellizabeth Watkins filed the first suit in January.
The latest suit, filed by plaintiff Ailie Ritchie, was filed in the middle of March.

In the Watkins case, Steiner filed both a motion asking to file an amended answer and affirmative defenses and the motion to dismiss the second count of Watkins' suit and to strike her claims for punitive damages.

Steiner alleges that Watkins' claims are barred by the statute of limitations. Steiner also claims that because the alleged injury came out of an act occurring within the scope of his employment as township supervisor that he is not personally responsible for it.

In the Watkins' motion to dismiss, Steiner contends that he is exempt from the plaintiff's suit under the Tort Immunity Act because he was a public employee acting within the scope of his employment.

He asks that the second count of the suit, the one seeking punitive damages be dismissed.

In all of his answers to the suits, Steiner has denied the women's allegations of wrongdoing.

In a March 24 filing in the second suit against Steiner and Saline Township, the township alleges that the two counts relate to Steiner's actions, not to the township.

It also alleges that the two complaints are barred by the Tort Immunity Act. It alleges that it, as Steiner's employer, is not responsible for an injury arising out of a promise or threat made by Steiner.

In the Barry case, Steiner makes the same arguments for dismissing the punitive counts that he made in the motion filed in the earlier Watkins case.

On the plaintiffs' side, plaintiff Melanie Hedlund, the third woman to sue Saline Township and Steiner, filed a move March 25 to amend her first complaint. According to the motion, she seeks to add a new theory of recovery and to add new counts.

The April 15 hearing for motions pending in the Miener and Hedlund cases will begin at 10 a.m.

Ruth will hear motions in the Watkins and Barry cases April 30.
Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder is currently overseeing the Ritchie case.

The plaintiffs are represented by Thomas and Peter Maag.

Steiner is represented by Mark Weinheimer.

William Knapp, Jeff O'Kelley, Christopher Swenson and Lori Vanderlaan represent Saline Township in the various suits.

The Ritchie case is currently assigned to Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder.

The Watkins case is Madison case number 10-L-031.

The Miener case is Madison case number 10-L-145.

The Hedlund case is Madison case number 10-L-178.

The Barry case is Madison case number 10-L-219.

The Ritchie case is Madison case number 10-L-309.

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