Removal notice in Cahokia Water District employees' suit added to file a year later

Amelia Flood Apr. 27, 2011, 7:53am


Although the defendants in a suit brought by former employees of the Commonfields of Cahokia Water District removed the suit to federal court in March 2010, the suit's St. Clair County file did not reflect the removal until a year later.

Attorney Julie Bruch sent a letter along with the March 5, 2010 removal notice to the clerk's office March 11, 2011.

According to Bruch's letter, the removal notice filed by the water district and trustees Marilyn Stringfellow, Carolyn Touchette, Mike Millatti, and Erma Millard was not received by St. Clair County.

The water district and its trustees were sued in 2010 by former water district employees Peggy Pierce, Isaac Turner, Marcus Luster, and Dennis Traiteur Jr.

The plaintiffs alleged that they were wrongfully fired for supporting the defendants' opponents in an election.

The defendants never filed an answer in the St. Clair County case.

Rather, according to the federal case file, the defendants answered the claims March 9,

In the federal case answer, the defendants denied the plaintiffs' claims.

The defendants also gave affirmative defenses that contend they were acting in the lawful
scope of their duties as water district trustees and that they are entitled to qualified immunity.

The defendants' attorneys, Alvin Paulson, Michael Garavalia, and Brian Kreisler, withdrew from the case in November 2010. The move was granted a month later.

A settlement conference January 2011 did not result in the end of the case.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Philip Frazier took over the case Feb. 11.

The most recent filings in the suit, related to status conferences, are not yet available for view.

Prior to the March 11 letter from Bruch, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert LeChien had set the suit for a status conference or dismissal earlier this month.

Robert Sprague represents the plaintiffs.

The St. Clair County case is case number 10-L-061.

The federal case in the United States District Court for Southern Illinois is case number 3:10 – cv - 00182-PMF.

U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Williams presided before the case was assigned to Frazier.

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