Carroll v. Merrill Lynch, Jim Kelliher, and Pat Kelliher, No. 12-1076 (7th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Carroll and Kelliher worked at Merrill Lynch. Carroll lodged a complaint that led to the firing of two employees. Restructuring followed and a supervisory position opened. Although Carroll did not apply, she felt “overlooked” when Merrill Lynch hired another. Carroll felt that Kelliher, apparently not involved with the earlier human resources complaint, was performing some of her duties. Around 9:00 PM on Thanksgiving, Carroll called Kelliher at home. As Carroll later admitted, she “fucking snapped;” she acknowledged that, if she received a similar call, she would feel “threatened.” Mrs. Kelliher overheard loud accusations and began listening from another receiver. Increasingly frightened, she pushed the “record” button on her answering machine. The Kellihers did not call the police, but called a Merrill Lynch supervisor. At his supervisors’ request, Kelliher played the recording and reported Carroll’s call to the police. Two months later, Carroll filed a police report, accusing the Kellihers of violating the Illinois eavesdropping statute. Merrill Lynch fired Carroll for her conduct on the call. Carroll sued Kelliher and Merrill Lynch. The district court entered summary judgment on her claim under the Illinois statute, concluding that the recording fell within the statute’s fear of crime exemption. The Seventh Circuit affirmed.