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7th Circuit rules in favor of Locke Reynolds

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Indianapolis law firm Locke Reynolds has won an appeal in a case with a former paralegal who sued over allegations that she was fired because of her race.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago issued a 13-page decision Wednesday afternoon affirming the summary judgment in favor of the law firm. U.S. District Judge John Tinder had ruled against the plaintiff in March 2006.

Marcella Fane, who worked as a paralegal for about two years in the toxic tort/asbestos practice group, filed a claim with the EEOC after she was terminated in August 2003 for rude and improper behavior toward colleagues and insubordination toward a senior partner.

In reaching their decision, the circuit panel cited examples of rude and inappropriate e-mails Fane sent to fellow paralegals, as well as conduct toward clients in conversations and written communications. Another example was how she directed a senior partner – her boss – to "come in, have a seat, and shut the door" – conduct the circuit judges noted she did not think was inappropriate.

"Fane's failure to live up to the firm's expectations was amplified by her inability to evaluate her own behavior, including the manner in which she addressed a senior partner," Judge Joel Flaum wrote in the opinion. "Even if Fane could establish a prima facie case of discrimination, she has failed to provide evidence from which a jury could conclude that the firm 's proffered reasons for terminating her were pretextual."

Fane's attorney, Bobby Potters of Indianapolis, could not be reached Thursday for comment, but attorneys at Locke Reynolds say they are pleased with the outcome.

"We did not feel there was any basis; now we have two courts confirming that there was no evidence supporting those allegations," said Jim Dimos, a partner on the firm's management committee. "We've always prided ourselves on being a good place to work for all people in the community. This is an affirmation of what we do."

Read the full opinion of Marcella Fane v. Locke Reynolds, 06-2200.

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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