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Will County judge sets new court date for Monson lawsuit

MORRIS – After what appeared to be some confusion from all parties involved, a Will County judge has taken steps to get court proceedings back on track in a lawsuit filed against Grundy County by former Veterans Assistance Commission employees.

Parties were in court Monday morning regarding the latest lawsuit filed by Elton Monson, who served as superintendent of the VAC from 1999 to 2011 when the commission, later supported by the Grundy County Board, terminated Monson and two other employees – Kathleen Doran and Phyllis Doran.

This lawsuit, filed Dec. 12 by Monson and Kathleen Doran, was brought against the county and multiple other parties for wrongful termination. Kathleen Doran also filed on behalf of Phyllis Doran, who has since died.

Monson and Doran are representing themselves and are asking for lost wages, benefits and reimbursements of $247,884.49. In addition, they are asking for $100 million in punitive damages.

The other named parties in the suit are the Morris American Legion, Grundy County Marine Corps League, Disabled American Veterans, Morris VFW, Coal City American Legion, Minooka American Legion, current VAC Superintendent Ken Buck, the VAC, VAC Chairman Harion Enervold, the Kendall County VAC , the Illinois Association of VACs and Judges Robert Marsaglia, Sheldon Sobol and Lance Peterson.

Because the lawsuit names Grundy’s three judges, Will County Judge Thomas Carney presided Monday over the case in the Grundy County Courthouse.

“I wanted to get us all in the same courtroom and start handling this matter and get it all resolved,” Carney said.

A representative from the Attorney General’s office represented the Grundy judges; Rathbun, Cservenyak & Kozol firm is representing all the other parties except the county; and local attorney Michael Mattingly was appointed as a special assistant state’s attorney to represent Grundy County due to a conflict of interest between the Grundy State’s Attorney’s office and Monson.

Mattingly also was appointed for a previous lawsuit by Monson against the county, filed in 2011, over the dispute regarding the termination of the original VAC and the creation of the VAC now run by Buck. 

The 2011 lawsuit is at the appellate court level for a second time. Judge Marsaglia has ruled twice in favor of the new VAC run by Buck – in the first trial and then after the appellate court returned the case to him with further direction.

Brett Geiger, attorney for Monson on the 2011 case, said Tuesday the final brief for the second appeal is due June 3 and then oral arguments would be scheduled.

On Monday, Judge Carney said court filings on the most recent case have been confusing for the parties on whether it should be done in Grundy County or Will County. He clarified that everything is to be filed in Grundy and that a new date would be set for the motions filed thus far due to the confusion.

With the confusion, not all parties – including the judge – received copies of the filed motions, therefore Judge Carney said he would not rule on Monson and Doran’s motion for default judgment or the defense’s motion for dismissal until the next hearing. This also gives time for all parties to respond to the motions, he said.

The next court hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. May 30.

The judge said he was allowing more time to “iron this all out so it becomes clear.”

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