was reached -- TTI received a contract for "Low Voltage Wiring" training in the amount of $ 113,000 and agreed to drop its grievance against MET. TTI also agreed not to commence litigation in any other forum regarding any of the allegations underlying the grievance.
In April of 1993, MET announced that it would be issuing a Request For Proposal (RFP) regarding a "Career Center" contract. In the summer and fall of 1993, TTI expressed an interest in the contract and requested the "Career Center" RFP from MET. TTI did not receive the RFP as early as other competing entities. Due to the belated receipt of the RFP, TTI requested that MET extend the time to submit its proposal. MET refused. Despite the lack of adequate time to prepare the proposal, TTI submitted the second highest ranked proposal. The contract presumably went to another entity.
In the spring of 1994, MET issued an RFP for the JTPA funding programs for the 1994-95 year. TTI submitted proposals to provide a "Public Safety Officer" training program, a "Low Voltage Wiring" training program, and a "Medical Billing Specialist" training program. MET rejected funding for all three of the proposals. MET informed TTI that the "Public Safety Officer" and "Low Voltage Wiring" training programs were not "demand occupations," thus, none of the entities offering training in these areas received contracts. Regarding the "Medical Billing Specialist" training program, MET informed TTI that it selected a company with more experience in the area.
In January of 1995, TTI filed a grievance complaining of the circumstances surrounding the selection of the 1993 "Career Center" contract provider and TTI's failure to obtain funding for the 1994-95 year for the "Public Safety Officer," "Low Voltage Wiring," and "Medical Billing Specialist" training programs. A grievance hearing was held. The grievance was dismissed.
B. The Complaint
In August of 1995, TTI filed a complaint against Defendants. TTI instituted this matter under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that Defendants' conduct regarding the denial of funding for several of the proffered training programs violated its right to procedural due process, substantive due process, and equal protection. TTI also brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, claiming that it was discriminated against based on race regarding the circumstances surrounding the formation of some of the JTPA contracts. Finally, TTI challenged the constitutionality of the City's M/WBEP program, claiming that the M/WBEP program violates the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.
C. Proceedings Before Magistrate Judge Lefkow
Magistrate Judge Lefkow concluded that TTI's complaint did not state a claim under § 1983 for an infringement of the constitutional right of procedural due process, substantive due process, or equal protection. Regarding TTI's § 1981 claim, Magistrate Judge Lefkow concluded that it was barred by the applicable two-year statute of limitations. Finally, Magistrate Judge Lefkow determined that TTI lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of the City's M/WBEP program. Accordingly, TTI's complaint was dismissed.
This matter is now before the Court on TTI's appeal of Magistrate Judge Lefkow's decision dismissing the complaint. When reviewing Magistrate Judge Lefkow's decision, this Court will be acting as an appellate court. Ben v. Burgess, 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1785, No. 93 C 4683, WL 73598 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 16, 1996). Thus, Magistrate Judge Lefkow's decision dismissing the complaint will be reviewed de novo. Hi-Lite Products Co. v. American Home Products Corp., 11 F.3d 1402, 1405 (7th Cir. 1993).
A. Motion to Dismiss - Legal Standard
In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court "must accept well pleaded allegations of the complaint as true. In addition, the Court must view these allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Gomez v. Illinois State Board of Education, 811 F.2d 1030, 1039 (7th Cir. 1987). Although a complaint is not required to contain a detailed outline of the claim's basis, it nevertheless "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, 84 L. Ed. 2d 821, 105 S. Ct. 1758 (1985). Dismissal is not granted "unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99 (1957).
B. The Merits
TTI challenges each aspect of Magistrate Judge Lefkow's decision. TTI argues that the complaint states viable claims under § 1983 based on procedural due process, substantive due process, and equal protection infringements. Also, TTI argues that the statute of limitations does not bar its § 1981 claim. Finally, TTI attacks Magistrate Judge Lefkow's decision that it lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of the City's M/WBEP program. Each issue will be addressed in turn.
1. § 1983 Claims
To establish a viable § 1983 claim, TTI must plead (1) that the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law and (2) that the conduct deprived it of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. New Burnham Prairie Homes v. Village of Burnham, 910 F.2d 1474, 1479 (7th Cir. 1990). Defendants do not dispute that they acted under the color of state law, thus, the issue is whether TTI was deprived of rights secured by the Constitution.
a. Procedural Due Process
TTI first argues that its complaint states a procedural due process claim. Procedural due process claims are analyzed under a two-step test. Doherty v. City of Chicago, 75 F.3d 318, 322 (7th Cir. 1996). The first step requires a determination as to whether the plaintiff was deprived of a protected life, liberty, or property interest; the second step requires a determination as to what process was due. Id.
TTI concedes, as it must, that it had no protected property interest in receiving the JTPA contracts from MET. See, e.g., Szabo Food Service, Inc. v. Canteen Corp., 823 F.2d 1073, 1081 (7th Cir. 1987) ("[A] disappointed bidder for a contract in Illinois lacks a property interest."), cert. dismissed, 485 U.S. 901, 108 S. Ct. 1101, 99 L. Ed. 2d 229 (1988); Coyne-Delany Co., Inc. v. Capital Development Board of State of Illinois, 616 F.2d 341, 342-43 (7th Cir. 1980) ("A bidder on a government contract has no legally enforceable rights against the award of the contract to a competitor other than those the government has seen fit to confer. * * * Illinois has not conferred any right on bidders . . . ."). Instead, TTI argues that it had a protected property interest in having its proposal scrutinized by the criteria set forth in MET's RFP and, alternatively, that it had a protected property interest in receiving MET's RFP in a timely manner.
In other words, TTI argues that it had a property interest in MET's observance of its own procedures pertaining to the RFP solicitation process. And, because MET analyzed its proposal under factors not listed in the RFP and failed to send TTI timely notice of a particular RFP, TTI argues that its procedural due process rights were infringed.
The Court disagrees.
TTI's concession that it had no property interest in receiving the JTPA contracts from MET is fatal to its position. As noted repeatedly by the Seventh Circuit, if there is no underlying protected property interest (in receiving the contracts), "the Due Process Clause does not require states to obey their own procedural rules in awarding  contracts." Kim Constr. Co., Inc. v. Bd. of Trustees of Village of Mundelein, 14 F.3d 1243, 1246 (7th Cir. 1994); accord, Szabo, 823 F.2d at 1081 ("The Supreme Court has held . . . that the due process clause does not require states to follow their own procedures, if there is no underlying property interest."); Three Rivers Cablevision, Inc. v. City of Pittsburgh, 502 F. Supp. 1118, 1128 (W.D. Pa. 1980) ("We cannot accept the proposition that either of the plaintiffs possessed a protected property interest in the adherence by council to the procedures outlined in the CCO and the RFP. . . ."). In other words, "one cannot have a property interest in mere procedures . . . ." Doe v. Milwaukee County, 903 F.2d 499, 503 (7th Cir. 1990). Accordingly, TTI's position is without merit.
b. Substantive Due Process
TTI also believes that its substantive due process rights were infringed. TTI limits this argument to MET's funding decisions for the 1994-95 year involving the "Public Safety Officer", the "Low Voltage Wiring", and the "Medical Billing Specialist" training contracts. TTI argues -- in two sentences confined to a footnote -- that Director Koenig's decisions regarding those three programs were "so arbitrary as to offend the conscience of the Court."
Like a procedural due process claim, however, to state a substantive due process claim one must first have been deprived of a protected life, liberty, or property interest. Jeffries v. Turkey Run Consol. Sch. Dist., 492 F.2d 1, 3-4 (7th Cir. 1974) ("The claim that a person is entitled to substantive due process means, as we understand the concept, that state action which deprives him of life, liberty, or property . . . ."); Deblasio v. Zoning Bd. of Adjustment, 53 F.3d 592, 598-601 (3d Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 133 L. Ed. 2d 247, 116 S. Ct. 352 (1995); Archuleta v. Colorado Dep't of Institutions, 936 F.2d 483, 490 (10th Cir. 1991). As discussed when analyzing TTI's procedural due process claim, TTI had no protected property interest. See Local 342 Pub. Serv. Employees v. Town Board of the Town of Huntington, 31 F.3d 1191, 1196 (2d Cir. 1994) ("In view of our conclusion that the Union possessed no protectable property interest in the insurance payments, it would appear obvious that the Town's termination of those payments in no way violated the substantive due process rights of Local 342."). Moreover, TTI makes no argument that Director Koenig's decisions infringed a protected life or liberty interest. Accordingly, since TTI lacks the predicate protected life, liberty, or property interest, its complaint fails to state a viable substantive due process claim.
c. Equal Protection
In TTI's final § 1983 claim, TTI argues that Defendants' conduct violated the Equal Protection Clause. Specifically, TTI claims that an Equal Protection Clause violation ensued when MET decided to limit its selection of potential providers regarding the "Medical Billing Specialist" training contract to entities with past experience in the area -- excluding of course entities which lacked such experience.
Accordingly, TTI argues that it alleged a viable Equal Protection Clause claim -- which is not subject to disposition on a motion to dismiss -- based on the unconstitutional classification of providers as either those with experience or those without experience in the particular area of expertise.
The Court disagrees.
Notably, TTI does not claim that it was subjected to unequal treatment regarding the "Medical Billing Specialist" training contract due to a racial classification or any other type of classification that would warrant a strict scrutiny analysis. Indeed, both parties agree that the instant equal protection issue involves the rational relationship standard -- a far easier standard to satisfy. That is, "the Equal Protection Clause requires only that the classification bear some rational relationship to legitimate governmental ends." Hager v. City of West Peoria, 84 F.3d 865, 872 (7th Cir. 1996).
When applying the rational relationship standard, the courts are instructed to "presume the constitutionality of the government's classification. . . ." Wroblewski v. City of Washburn, 965 F.2d 452, 459 (7th Cir. 1992); accord, Hager, 84 F.3d at 872. And, the classification will not be held as unconstitutional as long as "any state of facts reasonably may be conceived to justify it." Wroblewski, 965 F.2d at 459. In fact, to survive a motion to dismiss, the "plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to overcome the presumption of rationality that applies to government classifications." Id. at 460.
Here, TTI's complaint is devoid of any allegations as to why the classification of providers into two groups -- those with past experience and those without past experience -- is not rationally related to a legitimate governmental purpose.
Indeed, based on the assertions in TTI's appellate brief, it appears that TTI is operating under the misconception that
Indeed, as alluded to in footnote 5, supra., the Court does not believe that the instant equal protection claim is even pleaded in the complaint. Thus, obviously if the claim is not there, TTI has not satisfied its pleading burden of coming forward with facts to overcome the presumption of constitutionality.
Defendants are burdened with the task of coming forward with factual allegations or arguments to support the constitutionality of the classification. That, of course, is wrong -- as noted, the classification is presumed to be constitutional. Accordingly, TTI's complaint lacks the factual support to overcome the classification's presumption of constitutionality.
See Zajicek v. Aaby, 77 F.3d 485 (Table), WL 47454, *2 (7th Cir. Feb. 2, 1996) ("Complaints that challenge the rationality of legislation assume a heavy burden; they must overcome the presumption of rationality that attaches to all legislation. Therefore, complaints like [plaintiffs] must point to some fact that, if proven, would suggest irrationality.") (emphasis added).
2. § 1981 Claim
Generally, § 1981 "addresses racial discrimination in contractual relationships." Morris v. Office Max, Inc., 89 F.3d 411, WL 389344 (7th Cir. 1996). The statute reads in pertinent part:
(a) Statement of equal rights