Motions to dismiss Saline Township sexual battery cases pushed off to January

Amelia Flood Dec. 20, 2010, 1:26am


A consolidated motion hearing to dismiss a series of sexual battery cases against Saline Township and former Township Supervisor Alvin Steiner has been pushed off into the new year.

Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth was set to hear the motion filed by Saline Township Friday at 10 a.m.

The motion was pushed off to Jan. 13, 2011.

Saline Township and Steiner are fighting six nearly identical lawsuits brought by plaintiffs Elizabeth Watkins, Jamie Miener, Ailie Ritchie, Tara Reding, Laura Barry and Melanie Hedlund.

The six women claim that Steiner, who was Saline Township's supervisor until November 2009, groped and sexually harassed them when they came seeking public aid from the township.

Saline Township and Steiner deny the claims.

Saline Township had previously won the dismissal of a number of the women's claims in a previous motion to dismiss.

The six suits, all filed earlier this year, have been consolidated for hearing purposes. Plaintiffs were allowed to amend their complaints.

Those amended complaints include claims of civil rights violations, violations of the Illinois Gender Violence Act, as well as premises liability.

The plaintiffs contend that Saline Township aided Steiner in his alleged bad acts.

The township is seeking to dismiss the suits claiming that Ruth had already ruled it did not employ Steiner due to his status as an elected official. It also argues that Steiner alone had the power to administer the public aid money and that it was not under an obligation to remove him from his post even if it had knowledge of his bad acts.

The township contends the Gender Violence Act is meant to apply to people, not public bodies and that many of the plaintiffs' claims are preempted by the Illinois Human Rights Act, the Local Governmental Tort Immunity Act and statutes of limitations.

The plaintiffs have yet to file their response to the consolidated motion to dismiss the amended complaints.

Thomas and Peter Maag represent all of the plaintiffs.

Lori Vanderlaan and others represent Saline Township.

Mark Weinheimer represents Steiner.

The Saline Township suits are Madison case numbers 10-L-031, 10-L-0145, 10-L-178, 10-L-219, 10-L-309, and 10-L-555.

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