Dueling motions filed in Saline Township sexual harassment suits

Amelia Flood Nov. 2, 2010, 5:12am


Attorneys for Saline Township are arguing that plaintiffs in six sexual harassment suits filed against it and former Supervisor Alvin Steiner have conceded their claims are not applicable to the township.

But the six women who claim that Steiner sexually harassed and groped them counter that their replies to the motion to dismiss don't concede the case at all.

A hearing date on the matters is not yet set.

Plaintiffs Elizabeth Watkins, Jamie Miener, Laura Barry, Ailie Ritchie, Tara Reding and Melanie Hedlund all filed suit this year alleging virtually identical claims.

In the suits, the women claim that Steiner sexually harassed and touched them inappropriately when they came seeking public aid from Saline Township.

Saline Township and Steiner deny the claims.

Steiner resigned as township supervisor last year.

Saline Township had won the dismissal of a number of claims in the plaintiffs' original complaints.

The township is again seeking to throw out the claims against it brought in the second amended complaints.

In its Oct. 19 reply in support of the motion to dismiss, Saline Township argues the plaintiffs admit they don't have a case.

"On October 4, 2010, Saline Township received Plaintiffs' Response to its Motion to Dismiss, which essentially concedes that nearly all of their claims brought against the Township warrant dismissal," the motion reads.

The township also argues the plaintiffs' claims under the Illinois Civil Rights Act and "master-servant" claims fail because although the law provided that the township could remove Steiner from his role in overseeing the public aid funds, it was not legally
obligated to do so.

The township further claims that the master-servant issue is barred by the statute of limitations.

In their Oct. 27 reply to Saline Township's response, the plaintiffs dismiss the defense arguments.

"The township pleadings try to create a disconnect between its former supervisor, Alvin Steiner, and itself," the reply reads. "Put simply, Saline Township is attempting to distance itself from Public Aid Code rules that say if you accept state funds, you have to play by our rules, and our rules say no sex discrimination is allowed."

Last month, the parties agreed to an order barring Steiner and his wife from transferring assets until the end of the lawsuits.

Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth presides over all of the case.

The cases are Madison case numbers 10-L-31, 10-L-145, 10-L-178, 10-L-219, 10-L-309, and 10-L-555.

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