Duckworth Workplace Retaliation Suit Removed from Trial Docket | NBC Chicago
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Duckworth Workplace Retaliation Suit Removed from Trial Docket

The Illinois Attorney General’s office confirmed Thursday that settlement documents are being finalized in Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s workplace retaliation suit and that the case has been removed from the trial docket.

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    U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) delivers remarks on the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    The Illinois Attorney General’s office confirmed Thursday that settlement documents are being finalized in Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s workplace retaliation suit and that the case has been removed from the trial docket.

    “We filed a motion to enforce the settlement,” Illinois Attorney General Senior Press Secretary Eileen Boyce said in a statement. “This afternoon the judge entered an order into the docket.”

    Reports that the case was still set for trial surfaced last week after the plaintiffs, Denise Goins and Christine Butler, refused to accept a settlement offer, the Daily Herald reported. The AG’s office denied the reports, noting that the plaintiffs couldn’t refuse their settlement offer and that the case wasn’t going to trial.

    The 8-year-old lawsuit, which stemmed from Duckworth’s time as the director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, alleged ethics violations and workplace retaliation. The suit was settled in June.

    However, the plaintiffs were reportedly offended by the Duckworth campaign’s response to the settlement and moved to reject the offer within an hour of leaving the courthouse.

    Nevertheless, the AG’s motion to enforce the settlement noted that the plaintiff’s counsel hadn’t contacted the defendant’s counsel to object to the deal, which is “clearly an enforceable agreement.”

    The settlement agreement includes the state’s payment of $26,000 to the plaintiffs’ legal counsel.

    Duckworth is currently locked in one of the nation’s most hotly-contested Senate races against incumbent Republican Senator Mark Kirk.

    Kirk’s campaign, who used the case as a component of their strategy against Duckworth, responded to the settlement Thursday, faulting the congresswoman for the hiring of a convicted felon during her time as head of the IDVA.

    “The fact that Duckworth allowed a violent, convicted felon to care for veterans deserves answers,” Kirk spokesman Kevin Artl said in a statement. “No one in Illinois is surprised that Duckworth and Madigan are seeking a quick end to this embarrassing trial. But however the legal process plays out, we know for certain that Duckworth and her team allowed a violent felon to care for veterans and punished those who blew the whistle on her.”

    Butler wrote an e-mail to Duckworth on April 18, 2007 that was included in the lawsuit. She complained about Duckworth’s co-defendant Christine Simms, the acting administrator at the Illinois’ Anna Veterans Home, recalling an incident wherein five non-employees came to provide care to one of the home’s veteran residents on April 17, 2007.

    According to the e-mail, the individuals became abusive to the veteran and a contractor the next day and were required to leave the facility after becoming loud and disruptive. 

    One of the individuals, Jessie Bell, was a convicted felon who is currently serving time at Illinois’ Pinckneyville Correctional Center for second degree murder. The Kirk campaign is circulating a flyer with Bell’s mugshot that claims the felon “was allowed to care for Illinois veterans at the Anna Veterans’ Home."

    A Democratic insider claimed the congresswoman wasn’t informed about the incident until after the fact, at which point she admonished Simms. The source also noted that Bell’s name wasn’t included in the e-mail or any court documents.

    Additionally, the insider noted that no I.D. complaint was filed about the incident and claimed that the plaintiffs, namely Butler, had other personal issues with Simms. The source called the whistleblower’s claims “contradictory."

    Butler, who appears to be cooperating with the Kirk campaign, told Capitol Fax that Simms hired the five individuals without performing background checks. Butler claimed that Bell caused the most trouble at the home.

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