The opinion of the court was delivered by: BUCKLO
Memorandum Opinion and Order
Jo Ann Roberts sued her former employer, the Board of Education of Hazel Crest School District No. 152 1/2 [the "Board"], and individual members of the Board for breach of contract, deprivation of due process under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ["§ 1983"], and defamation. The defendants move to dismiss certain individual members from the lawsuit and to dismiss Count III. For the following reasons, the motion is granted, in part, and denied, in part.
Dr. Roberts was employed by the Board as superintendent of Hazel Crest School District No. 152 1/2 from 1996 to 1998. According to a written contract dated June 21, 1996 between Dr. Roberts and the Board, Dr. Roberts was to be fired only "for cause." On October 8, 1997, the Board made a number of charges against Dr. Roberts and placed her on administrative leave. Those charges were amended and made the subject of an administrative hearing, which was held before a hearing officer selected by the Board. The hearing officer found insufficient evidence to support the charges against Dr. Roberts. On January 12, 1998 the Board met, adopted its own findings of fact, and voted to terminate Dr. Roberts. Dr. Roberts claims that the charges adopted by the Board resulting in her termination were false and defamatory.
Motion to Dismiss Certain Individuals
The defendants argue that I should dismiss David Daniels, Kenneth Williams, and Willie Webb in their individual capacities pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). They argue that the complaint is void of alleged wrongdoing by these defendants in their individual capacities.
Count I-Breach of Contract against Board
In Count I, Dr. Roberts alleges that the Board's termination of her employment was in breach of her contract. Count I is labeled "Breach of Contract Against Board." The prayer for relief is also against the Board. No Board members are mentioned in Count I.
Nevertheless, in her response to the motion to dismiss, Dr. Roberts argues that Mr. Daniels, Mr. Williams, and Mr. Webb are liable in their individual capacities for breach of contract because Mr. Webb voted for her termination and Mr. Daniels and Mr. Williams voted against it. I will assume that if allowed, plaintiff would amend her complaint to allege individual liability for breach of contract.
Dr. Roberts' breach of contract claim arises out of her employment contract, which is attached to the complaint as an exhibit. The employment contract clearly states that it is "by and between BOARD OF EDUCATION, HAZEL CREST SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 152 1/2, COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS (the "Board"), and DR. JO ANN ROBERTS. . . ." (Compl., Exhibit A, at 1.) Where an attached contract shows that the requested relief is not merited, "dismissal is both justified and appropriate." Palda v. General Dynamics Corp., 47 F.3d 872, 876 (7th Cir. 1995). Inasmuch as Dr. Roberts admits that her contract was with the Board, Dr. Roberts cannot state a claim against the defendants in their individual capacities.
Count II-Deprivation of Due Process against Board
Dr. Roberts alleges in Count II that she was deprived of a protected property interest in her employment under color of state law and without due process in contravention of § 1983. As in Count I, Dr. Roberts labels her claim "Against Board" and asks for relief only from the Board. Unlike Count I, however, in Count II Dr. Roberts alleges that both the Board and its individual members deprived her of a protected property interest. Assuming that, if permitted, Dr. Roberts would amend her complaint to seek relief against the defendants in their individual capacities, I will consider the motion to dismiss this count in that fashion.
The complaint alleges that Dr. Roberts could be terminated only for cause, that Dr. Roberts was terminated despite a finding that there was no cause, and that the Board and its individual members deprived Dr. Roberts of a constitutionally protected property interest without due process of law. The complaint further alleges that Mr. Webb voted to adopt the Board's own findings of fact and terminate Dr. Roberts but that Mr. Daniels and Mr. Williams voted not to terminate Dr. Roberts.
These allegations do not state a claim for deprivation of due process against Mr. Daniels, Mr. Webb, or Mr. Williams in their individual capacities. Dr. Roberts has not made any allegations against Mr. Webb other than that he voted for her termination. She also has not made any allegations from which it can be reasonably inferred that Mr. Daniels or Mr. Williams participated in a due process deprivation. In her response to the motion to dismiss, Dr. Roberts admits that her claim against Mr. Daniels and Mr. Williams is problematic, but argues that she should be given the opportunity to show that their votes opposing her termination were cosmetic in nature and that Mr. Daniels and Mr. Williams were equal partners in the campaign to discharge her. However, in her complaint Dr. Roberts has not alleged any type of agreement, partnership, or conspiracy that included Mr. Daniels, Mr. Webb, or Mr. Williams, nor any basis for concluding that a vote for or against her dismissal could support a claim for ...