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Anicich v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc.
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
852 F.3d 643 (2017)
Brian Cooper was jointly employed in Illinois as a regional manager by Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., and the companies that supervised Home Depot’s garden centers, Grand Services, LLC, and Grand Flower Growers, Inc. (collectively, the employers) (defendants). As a manager, Cooper had a pattern of being abusive to female subordinates. In the case of Alisha Bromfield, Cooper referred to Alisha as his girlfriend, screamed curses at her, threw things, and refused to allow Alisha lunch breaks if she was having lunch with a male companion. Cooper contacted Alisha after work via texts and phone calls and insisted that she attend work trips alone with him. Alisha complained to various supervisors repeatedly, to no avail. Alisha endured Cooper’s sexual harassment for five years. Finally, after Alisha refused to accompany Cooper to his sister’s wedding in Wisconsin, he threatened to terminate Alisha’s employment or give her fewer hours. Alisha went with Cooper. After the wedding, Cooper killed Alisha by strangulation and raped her after she died. Alisha was in her seventh month of pregnancy at the time. Alisha’s mother, Sherry Anicich (plaintiff), filed suit for negligence against the employers on behalf of Alisha and her unborn child. The employers filed a motion for dismissal for failure to state a claim, which a federal district court granted, finding that the employers had no duty to restrain Cooper’s behavior and that his violence toward Alisha was not foreseeable. Anicich appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Hamilton, J.)
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