Saline Township, former supervisor's motions to dismiss to be heard

Amelia Flood Jan. 12, 2011, 1:23am

Tom Maag

Another series of moves to dismiss six sexual battery cases against Saline Township and former Supervisor Alvin Steiner will be before Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth on Thursday.

Plaintiffs Elizabeth Watkins, Melanie Hedlund, Laura Barry, Ailie Ritchie, Tara Redding and Jamie Miener all allege that Steiner groped and sexually harassed them when they came seeking public aid from Saline Township.

Steiner, the township's supervisor until November 2009, administered Saline Township's General Assistance Fund, a fact that has been central to the township's arguments to throw out the women's claims against it.

Ruth is set to hear the motions filed by the township and Steiner at 9:30 a.m.

Ruth had been set to hear the motions in December, but that hearing was canceled.

All six women are seeking damages in excess of $50,000 per count, punitive damages and other relief.

The plaintiffs' claims include alleged violations of the state's Gender Violence Act, constitutional violations, battery and other charges.

The suits claim Saline Township is liable for allegedly providing Steiner with the means to abuse the women.

Steiner and the township deny the claims.

Saline Township is seeking to dismiss the claims against it, citing Ruth's earlier ruling that it did not employ Steiner because he was an elected official.

The township argues that Steiner was the only person allowed by law to administer the assistance fund. While it could have removed Steiner, the township argues, it did not have to do so and it disputes that it had cause or the evidence to take that action.

Saline Township further claims that statutes such as the Gender Violence Act are not intended to apply to public bodies but to flesh and blood people.

Steiner filed a motion to dismiss the suits brought by Barry and Ritchie under the one-year statute of limitations found under the Local Government and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act.

Ruth had previously dismissed a number of claims from the suits but allowed the plaintiffs to amend the complaints.

All of the suits were filed last year.

Watkins' suit was the first case filed.

Thomas and Peter Maag represent all of the plaintiffs.

Lori Vanderlaan and others represent the 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.

More News