Saline Township moves to consolidate five women's suits against it, former supervisor

Amelia Flood Apr. 12, 2010, 9:20am


Saline Township is asking to combine five suits filed against it by women who claim its former supervisor groped and molested them when they sought public aid.

Saline Township filed its motion to combine the suits brought by plaintiffs Elizabeth Watkins, Melanie Hedlund, Jamie Miener, Laura Barry and Ailie Ritchie April 6.

Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth will hear that move as well as motions by the township and co-defendant Alvin Steiner to dismiss parts of the five suits Thursday at 10 a.m.

The women allege that Steiner, while employed as Saline Township supervisor, acted in inappropriate sexual ways when they came seeking utility and other aid.

The filings began with Watkins' suit in January. The most recent plaintiff, Ritchie, filed her suit in March.

Each suit seeks at least $50,000 in damages and costs.

In the April 6 motion to consolidate the five cases, the township cites the nearly identical nature of the cases and judicial economy.

"Although sometimes couched in different legal theories, each lawsuit seeks relief for sexual misconduct allegedly committed by Defendant Steiner against each plaintiff while employed by Defendant Township," the motion reads. "Consolidating these matters for the purpose of all pretrial matters, including discovery and pretrial motions, will promote judicial economy in allowing the same issues to be addressed and resolved by the same court."

Ruth is currently assigned the bulk of the Saline Township suits.

Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder currently oversees the Ritchie case.

Madison County Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian had been assigned a couple of the cases before they went to Ruth.

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 Saline Township cases are Madison case number 10-L-31, 10-L-145, 10-L-178, 10-L-219, and 10-L-309.

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