Saline Township sexual harassment cases settle in mediation

Amelia Flood Jul. 8, 2011, 8:43am

Six sexual harassment and battery suits filed against Saline Township and former Township Supervisor Alvin Steiner are over.

The suits brought by six women – Elizabeth Watkins, Jamie Miener, Melanie Hedlund, Laura Barry, Tara Reding, and Ailie Ritchie – settled in a day-long mediation session with Madison County Associate Judge Thomas Chapman, according to an order entered July 7.

The mediation took place July 6.

The settlement order is designated confidential in the order and is not available in the case file.

The six women filed six separate suits against Steiner and the township last year alleging that Steiner sexually harassed, groped, and threatened them when they sought public aid from Saline Township.

The defendants denied the claims.

Steiner resigned from his position as township supervisor in 2009.

The suits sought damages in excess of $50,000 per count, punitive damages and other relief.

Saline Township won the dismissal of the counts against it twice.

It argued that because Steiner was an elected official, the township was not obligated to remove him from his position overseeing the public aid funds.

It also successfully had claims filed by the plaintiffs under the Illinois Gender Violence Act and civil rights violations thrown out.

The township won the most recent dismissal of the claims against it in January.

However, the township filed a motion June 10 asking for the final dismissal of all counts against it and an appealable order.

The plaintiffs opposed the move, citing attempts to mediate the case with Steiner and the previous January dismissal of counts against Saline Township.

According to the July 7 order, the parties are to submit a satisfaction of judgment to the court and the six cases will then be dismissed.

All of the cases were set for trial later this year.

Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth had been set to hear motions in the suits July 22.

Thomas and Peter Maag represent the plaintiffs.

Mark Weinheimer represents Steiner.

Lori Vanderlaan and others represent Saline Township.

The Saline Township 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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