After a federal court ruling that terminated Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill as a defendant in their lawsuit, the four women who accuse Hill of sexual misconduct say they will “continue their pursuit of all available civil claims” against the AG.
In a statement through their attorneys, the women — Indiana Democratic State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon and current and former legislative staffers Gabrielle McLemore Brock, Niki DaSilva and Samantha Lozano — say they plan to follow through with the federal court’s leave to refile certain claims against Hill in state court.
Also, the attorneys — Kimberly Jeselskis, B.J. Brinkerhoff and Hannah Joseph of JBJ Legal — plan to appeal the partial dismissal of their federal claims to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“While the Court has made certain procedural rulings that impact the forum for some of their causes of action, it is important to remember that the Indiana Supreme Court has already found that Mr. Hill committed criminal battery against the Plaintiffs,” the lawyers said in a statement to IL.
The four women sued Hill and the state of Indiana a year ago for harassment, discrimination and retaliation. Those claims arose from a March 2018 legislative party, where they say Hill drunkenly groped them. Once those allegations became public, the women said they were subjected to unlawful behavior from Hill and others in and around the General Assembly.
The Indiana Southern District Court dismissed the civil lawsuit in March. The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint that same month, bringing state-law claims against Hill and federal claims against the Indiana House and Senate as their employers.
Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson allowed the federal claims against the Legislature to proceed in an order handed down this month, but she dismissed the state-law claims without prejudice, thus eliminating Hill as a defendant. She also dismissed Reardon as a plaintiff, because the remaining federal claims — brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act — were not brought on her behalf.
“As directed by the District Court’s recent order, our clients will be filing certain claims arising under Indiana law against Mr. Hill in state court,” the lawyers’ statement says. Those claims in federal court included battery, defamation and false light invasion of privacy.
“They also intend to pursue an appeal of the dismissal of certain federal claims against the State of Indiana and Mr. Hill,” the statement continues. In her March ruling, Magnus-Stinson dismissed the plaintiffs’ Title VII and retaliation claims against the state, as well as those for sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation brought against Hill in both his official and individual capacities.
A state-law claim of sexual battery against Hill in his individual capacity was also dismissed with prejudice, while the remaining state-law claims were dismissed without prejudice. The latter were refiled in the amended federal complaint and can now be pursued in state court.
Magnus-Stinson earlier this month granted the plaintiffs’ motion for partial judgment following the March dismissals with prejudice. The entry of partial judgment allows the women to pursue an appeal.
“The Plaintiffs will continue their efforts to hold Mr. Hill accountable for his actions on March 15, 2018 and his conduct in the weeks and months that followed,” the statement concludes.
Hill’s dismissal as a defendant in the federal lawsuit came as he was in the middle of a 30-day suspension for violations of Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(b) and (d). Those violations stem from the same March 2018 incident that prompted the civil lawsuit.
The AG has not been criminally charged in connection with the 2018 incident.
Hill will be automatically reinstated to the practice of law Wednesday. Then on Thursday, he’ll ask the delegates of the Indiana Republican Party to name him as their candidate for the 2020 AG race.
The federal case is DaSilva, et al. v. Indiana House of Representatives, et al., 1:19-cv-2453.