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WRIGHT v. GLOVER

October 28, 1991

WANDA WRIGHT, Plaintiff,
v.
REYNALDO P. GLOVER, ROBERT M. WEISSBOURD, JAMES A. DYSON WILLIAM H. FINCH, MICHAEL N. MAYO, TERRY E. NEWMAN, TERESA FRAGA, being The Board of Trustees of Community College District No. 508, County of Cook and State of Illinois, City Colleges of Chicago, and NELVIA M. BRADY, Defendants


James B. Moran, Chief United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: MORAN

Plaintiff Wanda Wright brings this action under 42 U.S.C. ┬ž 1983, alleging that defendants deprived her, without due process, of property and liberty interests guaranteed her under the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff was director of the Winning Experience Program of the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC). Defendants are members of the Board of Trustees of CCC, and the chancellor of CCC. Wright challenges the manner of her suspension and threatened termination from her position and the sufficiency of the procedural protections she received. *fn1" On April 11, 1991, this court entered the magistrate's report and recommendation, denying plaintiff's motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent defendants from terminating her pending a name-clearing hearing. Defendants now move this court, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, to dismiss plaintiff's complaint. For the reasons set forth below, we grant defendant's motion to dismiss.

 STANDARD OF REVIEW

 When considering a motion to dismiss, we must accept the plaintiff's allegations as true, Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73, 104 S. Ct. 2229, 2232-33, 81 L. Ed. 2d 59 (1984), and view them, along with any reasonable inferences drawn from them, in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Doe on behalf of Doe v. St. Joseph's Hosp., 788 F.2d 411, 414 (7th Cir. 1986). A complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim only if it appears beyond doubt that plaintiff can prove no set of facts that would entitle her to relief. Id. at 414. However, a complaint must "contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory." Car Carriers, Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 745 F.2d 1101, 1106 (7th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1054, 105 S. Ct. 1758, 84 L. Ed. 2d 821 (1985).

 In light of the above standards, the following recitation of the facts reflects plaintiff's version of the events in question.

 FACTS

 On February 5, 1991, Dr. Nelvia Brady, the chancellor of CCC, delivered a letter to Wright. The letter questioned the propriety of certain purchasing and hiring decisions Wright had allegedly made during her employment with CCC. Dr. Brady was informed of the allegations by Nathaniel Thomas, plaintiff's immediate supervisor and a vice-chancellor of CCC. The letter also notified Wright of a meeting scheduled for February 6, 1991 to allow her to respond to the allegations by presenting documents or written statements. No witnesses were allowed to testify. Wright attended the February 6 meeting, presented her side of the story and made a tape-recording of the meeting. An attorney for CCC and Vice Chancellor Laurence Stanton of CCC were present at the meeting. No evidence (other than the allegations themselves) was presented against Wright, and no decision was reached regarding the truth or falsity of the allegations in the February 5 letter. The next day, February 7, the Board of Trustees of CCC suspended plaintiff, with pay, effective February 8, 1991.

 On February 8, 1991, Nathaniel Thomas, together with a computer support person, entered Wright's office and disconnected her computer, demanded her keys to the office, directed plaintiff to leave the office, and told the other staff members present that he was locking the office and that they were all to go home. In the course of this scene (February 8 scene), Thomas allegedly called plaintiff a "bitch," within the hearing of several of her colleagues. Plaintiff asserts that the reasons given for her suspension were false and were fabricated by Thomas because she had spurned his sexual advances.

 On February 11, 1991, plaintiff received a letter informing her of her suspension. On March 6, 1991, plaintiff brought suit, alleging that defendants intended to terminate her in violation of her property and liberty interests. She also sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against defendants. These matters were referred to the magistrate. On March 11, 1991, the magistrate ordered defendants to hold a hearing to allow plaintiff to respond to the allegations. The hearing was held on March 12, 1991. Both Chancellor Stanton and plaintiff attended the meeting, with counsel. The hearing was transcribed by a court reporter. The March 12, 1991 hearing consisted of plaintiff denying the allegations in narrative form. Again, no evidence was presented by CCC against Wright and no decision was reached by Chancellor Stanton as to the truth of the allegations in the February 5 letter.

 DISCUSSION

 The due process clause forbids the state from depriving an individual of life, liberty or property without providing constitutionally adequate notice and an opportunity to be heard. *fn2" Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill, 470 U.S. 532, 542, 105 S. Ct. 1487, 1493, 84 L. Ed. 2d 494 (1985). However, the Supreme Court has also held that procedural due process requirements do not apply to every deprivation by the state, but "only to deprivations of interests included within the fourteenth amendment's protection of property and liberty." Munson v. Friske, 754 F.2d 683, 692 (7th Cir. 1985).

 I. Nature of the Claims

 A. The Arguments

 According to Wright, the February 5 letter and the February 8 scene have stigmatized, humiliated and degraded her in the eyes of her peers, and have damaged irreparably her future employment possibilities (cplt. 15). Wright maintains that these circumstances implicate property and liberty interests for which process is due. Wright alleges that the process she has received is constitutionally inadequate.

 Defendants claim that plaintiff's complaint should be dismissed because she has no property right in her continued employment, because the facts alleged do not support a claim for violation of her liberty interests, and, in any event, because she has received all the process ...


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