An auto body shop and its owner accuse a former employee of failing to avoid harm in a sexual harassment lawsuit.

In her Dec. 12 complaint, Amber Pickett claims she was working for defendants Ronald Thorp and Detail Masters Auto Painting Inc., doing business as Maaco Auto Body, beginning Jan. 7, 2013. Pickett alleges she was sexually harassed from April 2013 until April 25, 2014.

“Said sexual harassment was both physical and verbal, all of which was unwelcome,” the complaint states. “[The} sexual harassment became so severe and pervasive, the plaintiff was forced to resign her employment on or about April 25.”

As a result of the incidents, Pickett claims she experienced pain and suffering, lost her normal life, suffered mental anguish and lost her enjoyment of life. She also lost wages, her suit states.

The defendants denied the allegations in their Jan. 21 answer and argued that the plaintiff’s claims are barred.

“Plaintiff’s claims are barred and/or any recovery of damages is precluded because defendants exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any alleged harassing behavior and plaintiff unreasonably failed to take advantage of these preventative or corrective opportunities or to avoid the harm otherwise.”

They also argue that Pickett’s claims for emotional distress are preempted by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.

The defendants claim her request for damages must be eliminated because she already has or will be compensated from “collateral sources.”

Pickett denied the affirmative defenses in her Feb. 9 response.

Pickett filed a second amended complaint on Feb. 24, conforming her pleadings to the evidence and seeking additional damages.

Pickett seeks a judgment of more than $50,000, plus prejudgment interest, attorney’s fees and costs of suit.

Thomas O. Falb of Williamson, Webster, Falb and Glisson in Alton represents Pickett.

Carrie L. Kinsella of Jackson Lewis in St. Louis represents the defendants.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 14-L-1692

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