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Cain v. Larson

decided: July 7, 1989.

JOAN LYNN CAIN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
BRUCE E. LARSON, POLICE CHIEF OF THE VILLAGE OF HERSCHER, ILLINOIS, POLICE DEPARTMENT, DANIEL SUESS, MAYOR OF THE VILLAGE OF HERSCHER, ILLINOIS, AND PRESIDENT OF THE VILLAGE OF HERSCHER, ILLINOIS POLICE BOARD, ARTHUR BROCKSMITH, EARL DATWEILER, JAMES FELLER, STEVE JACOB, MERLE HENDRIX, AND ROBERT MITCHELL, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS TRUSTEES OF THE VILLAGE OF HERSCHER, ILLINOIS, BOARD, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 88 C 1015 -- John F. Grady, Judge.

Cudahy, Coffey, and Manion, Circuit Judges.

Author: Cudahy

CUDAHY, Circuit Judge.

Cain, previously a probationary police officer for the Village of Herscher ("Herscher"), alleges that her former employer violated her fourteenth amendment procedural due process rights. She is suing for compensatory and punitive damages and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. section 1983. The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss and Cain appeals. Because the plaintiff has not alleged a constitutionally-protected property interest, we affirm.

I.

We review the dismissal of a complaint, and accordingly take all well-pleaded facts as true. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99 (1957); Rankow v. First Chicago Corp., 870 F.2d 356 (7th Cir. 1988). Cain's complaint alleges that, while she was employed by the Herscher Police Department, Bruce Larson (Chief of the Herscher Police Department), with the support of Daniel Suess (Mayor and President of the Herscher Police Board), had demanded that she work twenty hours of overtime per week without compensation. Cain claims that this demand, which she eventually refused, put a strain on her relationship with Larson. She was subsequently required to work five hours overtime per week.

Cain had previously informed Larson and Suess of difficulties she was having with one Daniel Diamond, who allegedly had a history of more than 125 arrests and more than 70 convictions (including two felony convictions). Diamond had been making phone calls and sending letters to Cain in which he threatened to harm or kill her. These threats had in part been responsible for an earlier decision by Cain to resign from the police department of another village where she had been employed. When Diamond at one point actually appeared in person at her former place of employment and at her residence, Cain had had him arrested and he received a 120-day sentence. Alter Cain moved and began work in Herscher, Diamond discovered her new whereabouts and began to harass her once more. On March 13, 1987, Diamond was arrested for public intoxication by the Kankakee County Sheriff's Department. Cain was apparently involved in the arrest, although the nature of her involvement is unclear from the complaint.

Following the arrest (from March 14 through 21, and again on March 23), Police Chief Larson interrogated Cain daily, without advising her that she was under investigation. Cain claims that these investigations furnished the basis for disciplinary charges subsequently filed against her by the Police Board. The disciplinary complaint read as follows:

A. CRIMINAL CHARGES:

On March 13, 1987, it is alleged that Joan Lynn Cain committed the acts of official misconduct, battery, disorderly conduct, and assault or intimidation, while effecting the arrest of one Daniel D. Diamond, at approximately 12:10 P.M. in the Village of Herscher, Illinois.

B. UNETHICAL CONDUCT BY A POLICE OFFICER:

Prior to and on March 13, 1987, Joan Lynn Cain advised her superior officer, members of the Illinois State Police, and members of the Kankakee County State's Attorney's office that the said Daniel D. Diamond made threatening telephone calls and mailed threatening letters, which allegations Sergeant Cain has failed to substantiate.

C. POOR WORK QUALITY (SUBSTANDARD) WORK HABITS:

Joan Lynn Cain's superior has documented a lack of initiative, poor job performance and the exercise of poor judgment by Joan Lynn Cain since ...


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