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NEW CHRISTIAN VALLEY M.B. CHURCH v. BOARD OF EDUC.

February 6, 1989

NEW CHRISTIAN VALLEY M.B. CHURCH, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF SCHOOL DISTRICT # 149, et al., Defendants


Prentice H. Marshall, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARSHALL

PRENTICE H. MARSHALL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

 The present dispute arises out of a contract by the defendants to sell an abandoned school building, known as the Waterman School, to the plaintiff church. The defendants repudiated the sales contract, and the plaintiffs now seek specific performance and relief under the federal civil rights laws.

 Under Illinois law, the title to school buildings controlled by local public school boards is vested in the trustees of schools of the township in which the real property is located. Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 122 para. 5-21 (1987). When a school board determines that a building has become unnecessary for the use of the school district, it may direct the trustees of schools holding title to that building to sell it upon specified terms. Within 60 days of such notification, the trustees must attempt to sell the property upon the terms specified at a public sale. Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 122 para. 5-21.

 During the months between the sale and the closing date, there was a public outcry by many white South Holland residents because the Waterman School building was being sold to a black church. Complaint para. 13-14.

 On May 16, 1988, the Church tendered the amount due at closing under the sales contract, but its tender was refused by the Trustees. In June, the Board formally directed the Trustees to null and void its contract with the Church for the sale of the building. The Trustees immediately did so.

 The Church, its pastor, and three members of its congregation have now filed suit against the Board, the Trustees, and their individual members for violation of federal civil rights statutes and Illinois state contract law in connection with the repudiated sales contract. The Board and its members have filed a motion to dismiss the allegations of the individual plaintiffs for failure to state a claim and for lack of standing. The Trustees of Schools and its individual members have filed a separate motion seeking to be dismissed as parties defendant.

 I. Arguments of the Board of Education

 The Board has singled out Count II of the complaint for its most vigorous attack. This count alleges that the defendants' actions have denied the individual plaintiffs the same right as is enjoyed by white citizens to lease and hold real property in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1982. The Board argues that this count fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because it does not allege the existence of any contract for the sale or lease of realty or any other transaction between the defendants and the individual plaintiffs.

 It is axiomatic that complaints under § 1982 are to be liberally construed in a manner consistent with the "broad and sweeping" nature of its protection. Sullivan v. Little Hunting Park, Inc., 396 U.S. 229, 238, 90 S. Ct. 400, 404, 24 L. Ed. 2d 386 (1969). However, we must agree with the defendants that Count II fails to state a cause of action. The individual plaintiffs cannot allege that the defendants denied them the right to lease and hold real property unless they show that they attempted to do so. No such showing has been made here, and the count must be dismissed.

 Defendants' argument that the individual plaintiffs' prayers for relief in Counts I, III, and IV must be dismissed because of the lack of transactions between the parties have no merit. Under the civil rights statutes, a plaintiff need not have been the direct victim of discrimination, so long as he suffered injury as the result of the defendant's conduct. See, e.g., Havens Realty Corp. v. Coleman, 455 U.S. 363, 102 S. Ct. 1114, 71 L. Ed. 2d 214 (1982) (Organization had standing to challenge racial steering); Gladstone Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, 441 U.S. 91, 99 S. Ct. 1601, 60 L. Ed. 2d 66 (1979) (Residents of neighborhood had standing to challenge discriminatory practices of realty company).

 In this case the individual plaintiffs allege that as a result of the defendants' dealings with their church, the defendants caused the plaintiffs to suffer mental anguish, humiliation, embarrassment, and the loss of religious and social benefits of worshipping in an integrated community. These allegations are clearly sufficient to state "distinct and palpable" injuries sufficient to confer standing to challenge the defendants' ...


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