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WEISSMANN v. CARROLL

March 31, 2004.

PATRICIA A. WEISSMANN, Plaintiff,
v.
LORI CARROLL, MARTIN McGUIRE, MAGGIE O'HERN, and ORLAND TOWNSHIP, an Illinois municipal corporation, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Lori Carroll's, Martin McGuire's, Maggie O'Hern's (collectively the "individual defendants"), and Orland Township's (hereinafter "Township") motion for summary judgment as to Plaintiff Patricia A. Weissmann's (hereinafter "Weissmann") Complaint In Count I and Count II, Weissmann alleges violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the individual defendants and the Township. Additionally, before this court is individual defendants' and Township's motion to strike the affidavit of Patricia Thompson.

For the reasons below, this court grants individual defendants and Township's Page 2 motion for summary judgment on Count's I and II of Weissmann's Complaint. In addition, the court strikes as moot the motion to strike the affidavit of Patricia Thompson.

  BACKGROUND

  According to Weissmann's Complaint, she began her employment with the Township in February 1999 as the part-time Deputy Clerk, and at one point also served as the part-time Acting Executive Administrator for the Township. The record reflects that in September of 2000, the position of Township Executive Administrator became vacant. The Orland Township Board (hereinafter "Board") asked Weissmann and two other individuals to help perform some of the Executive Administrator duties while the position was vacant. From approximately September 2000 through May 2001, Weissmann, along with two other individuals, were paid stipends to perform these extra duties while the position was vacant.

  On April 3, 2001, an election was held for various positions on the Township Board of Trustees. At that time, Weissmann was the Deputy Clerk and was also still helping to perform the extra duties of the Township Executive Administrator. In the April 2001 election, candidates from the two political parties, the Coalition Party and the Independent Leadership Party, ran for trustee positions on the Board. The individual defendants were the Coalition Party's candidates. Weissmann supported the Page 3 Independent Leadership Party candidates. The outcome of the election resulted in the three individual defendants being elected to three trustee positions on the Township. As a result, the individual defendants became a three to two voting majority of the Board.

  On May 8, 2001, the Board held its first meeting following the election. At the meeting, one of the individual defendants moved for the Board to hire Ellen Friedel to the vacant position of Executive Administrator and also to terminate Weissmann's temporary stipend and the extra Executive Administrator duties that she was performing. The individual defendants supported both motions affirmatively and each motion passed by a three to two majority vote.

  Later at the same meeting, the Board considered abolishing the Deputy Clerk position from the Township. However, the measure did not come to a vote at that meeting. At a following Board meeting on May 15, 2001, one of the individual defendants moved to adopt an ordinance abolishing the office of Deputy Clerk. Thereafter, a vote was taken and the office of Deputy Clerk was eliminated by a vote of three to two.

  This case was originally before the Honorable Ronald A. Guzman of the Northern District of Illinois. In a February 27, 2003 Memorandum Opinion and Order, Judge Guzman, addressing the individual defendants' and the Township's motion to Page 4 dismiss Weissmann's Complaint, granted the individual defendants' motion to dismiss Count I with regard to the abolishment of the Deputy Clerk position; denied the individual defendants' motion to dismiss Count I with regard to the termination of Weissmann from her part-time position as Executive Administrator; and denied in its entirety the Township's motion to dismiss Count II.

  LEGAL STANDARD

  Summary judgment is appropriate when the record reveals that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In seeking a grant of summary judgment the moving party must identify "those portions of `the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). This initial burden may be satisfied by presenting specific evidence on a particular issue or by pointing out "an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. Once the movant has met this burden, the non-moving party cannot simply rest on the allegations in the pleadings, but, "by affidavits or as otherwise provided for in [Rule 56], must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). A "genuine issue" in the context of a motion for summary judgment is not simply a Page 5 "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Insolia v. Philip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000). The court must consider the record as a whole, in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable inferences that favor the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Bay v. Cassens Transport Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000).

  DISCUSSION

 COUNT I: § 1983 Individual Defendants Claim

  With respect to Count I, Weissmann argues that the individual defendants deprived her rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, due process, and equal protection under the First and Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in violation of § 1983. Section 1983 makes it unlawful for any person "under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . [to] subject[], or cause[] to be subjected, any citizen of the United ...


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