Ruth to hear Saline Township motions to dismiss sexual misconduct suits

Amelia Flood Jun. 22, 2010, 9:36am

Attorneys for five women suing Saline Township and its former township supervisor over sexual misconduct allegations are asking for time to respond to defense motions to dismiss.

Attorneys Thomas and Peter Maag filed their motions asking for time to respond to the dismissal moves on June 17.

In the motion, the attorneys claim that due to some time out of the country, they had been unable to respond to the moves filed by the defense.

Plaintiffs Elizabeth Watkins, Jamie Miener, Melanie Hedlund, Laura Barry and Ailie Ritchie allege that former Saline Township Supervisor Alvin Steiner groped them, made sexual advances and threatened them when they came seeking public utility aid.

The suits seek at least $50,000 a count, punitive damages and other relief.

The defendants deny the claims in their answers.

Another plaintiff, Tara Reding, has also filed suit on nearly identical claims.

That case has yet to be consolidated for hearing purposes with the five previous suits, although it is likely that it will be.

Saline Township moved to dismiss the counts against it in the plaintiffs' amended complaints in May.

The township argues that it could not fire Steiner because he was an elected official and therefore is not liable for his alleged actions.

The township also argues that it is protected from the suits by Illinois law related to lawsuits against governmental bodies.

All of the suits were filed this year, beginning with Watkin's.

Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth is scheduled to hear the motions to dismiss June 30 at 10 a.m.

Ruth recently issued an order resetting the cases' discovery schedules.

The township's insurer also has asked for a series of declaratory judgments that would allow it not to cover Steiner if judgments are entered against him.

The plaintiffs are all represented by Thomas and Peter Maag.

Steiner is represented by Mark Weinheimer

Saline Township is represented by William Knapp, Jeff O'Kelley,
Christopher Swenson and Lori Vanderlaan.

The cases are Madison case numbers 10-L-145, 10-L-178, 10-L-219, 10-L309, 10-L-310 and 10-L-555.

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