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Johnson v. John

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

March 29, 2017

APRIL JOHNSON Plaintiff,
v.
TOWN OF ST. JOHN, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JON E. DEGUILIO JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This case arises from Plaintiff April Johnson's allegation that she experienced sexual harassment while performing janitorial services for the Town of St. John, Indiana (the Town). Her complaint brings numerous claims against the Town, Town Manager Stephen Kil and Town police officers Frederick Frego, Michael Fryzel and James Turturillo. The Defendants have now filed two motions to dismiss in which they argue that several of the counts alleged in Johnson's amended complaint fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. [DE 40, 46].[1] Those motions are fully briefed and ripe for review. [DE 41, 45, 47, 50, 55, 56].

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         In reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court will take the facts alleged by the Plaintiff to be true and draw all reasonable inferences in her favor. A complaint must contain only a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). However, that statement must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Evaluating whether a plaintiff's claim is sufficiently plausible to survive a motion to dismiss is “a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).

         FACTS

         Plaintiff April Johnson performed janitorial services for the Town of St. John, Indiana. It is not clear what her precise employment status was. While she describes herself as a “contractor, ” she also asserts that she was paid by the Town and that the Town “exercised enough control over Plaintiff to create an employer-employee relationship.” [DE 30 at 4].

         Regardless, she alleges that she was sexually harassed in the course of her job duties by Town police officers Michael Fryzel, Fred Frego and James Turturillo. She identifies numerous particular instances of misconduct by Fryzel and Frego, including:

. 2010-2015: Fryzel referred to Johnson as a “spinner” that he could easily move around on his lap during sex. [DE 30 at 5].
. 2015-2015: Fryzel and Frego referred to Johnson as “comanched” (a pejorative term for a woman who has had sex with a black man). [DE 30 at 5]. They also mocked Johnson for having a hearing impairment. For example, they made sexually explicit comments about her and then joked that she could not hear them.
. 2015: Fryzel saw Johnson eating yogurt and told her she was eating his semen.
. January 2015: Fryzel approached Johnson while she was bending over and said “I can see your tits.” [DE 30 at 5].
. February 2015: Fryzel “struck Plaintiff.” [DE 30 at 6].[2]

         She also asserts that Frego and Turturillo observed Fryzel sexually harass her from 2010-2015, though did nothing to intervene.

         Beginning in April 2015, Johnson reported this harassment to the Lake County Prosecutor's Office, the Indiana State Police and the EEOC. After she complained to those agencies, she found feces in her work area on a day that Turturillo and another Town employee were on duty. On September 29, 2015, Town Manager Stephen Kil called the Plaintiff to inform her that she would be fired. She was terminated the next day. The Plaintiff then received a ...


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