The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES MORAN, Senior District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Gayler Cobbs brought this action against the defendants
alleging that they unlawfully retaliated against her by demoting her
because she refused to donate money to defendant Michael Sheahan's
reelection campaign and also because she is a black female. Defendants
filed a motion to dismiss all counts pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that plaintiff fails to state a claim for
relief. For the following reasons, defendants' motion is denied.
Plaintiff has been employed by the sheriff's department of Cook County
since 1985. On July 11, 2001, she was allegedly demoted from her position
as the assistant director of the boot camp program to the position of
sergeant in the Department of Corrections. Defendant Sheahan serves in
the elected position of Sheriff of Cook County and defendants Patrick
Durkin, Thomas Dourdy and James Ryan are employees of the sheriff's
department. Citizens for Michael Sheahan is a private political campaign
committee established pursuant to Illinois law on behalf of Sheahan. Plaintiff claims that defendants, together with other individuals,
conspired to improperly collect donations for Sheahan's reflection
efforts. She alleges that employees of the department were forced to
contribute to the campaign and that those who refused were disciplined or
demoted. Specifically, plaintiff points to a series of conversations in
early 2001, when defendants Durkin and Dourdy allegedly handed her
tickets to a fundraiser on behalf of Sheahan and asked her to sell them.
When she refused, Dourdy allegedly questioned her loyalty and told her
that the refusal would not look good on her record. She was demoted
shortly after these events. Plaintiff also claims that another employee,
Denis Micnerski, protested defendants' request for donations and was
eventually demoted, even though he gave $500 to the campaign.
Alternatively, plaintiff claims that defendants had no proper reasons
to demote her and that their action was motivated entirely by her race
and her gender.
In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the court must assume the
truth of all well-pleaded allegations, making all inferences in the
plaintiff's favor. Sidney S. Arst Co. v. Pipefitters Welfare Educ. Fund,
25 F.3d 417, 420 (7th Cir. 1994). The court should dismiss a claim only
if 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, 45-46 (1957). While the complaint does not need to
provide the correct legal theory to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, it
must allege all of the elements necessary to recover. Ellsworth v. City
of Racine, 774 F.2d 182, 184 (7th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1047
Plaintiff's complaint consists of five counts. In count I, she alleges
violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act
(RICO), 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c). In count 11, she alleges violations of
her First Amendment right pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In count III, she claims violations of her equal protection rights under section
1983, based on her gender. In count IV, she alleges violations of these
rights based on her race. In count V, she alleges violations of her right
to contract under 42 U.S.C. § 1981.
To state a claim under section 1962(c), plaintiff must allege conduct
of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity. Goren v. New
Vision Intern., Inc., 156 F.3d 721, 727 (7th Cir. 1998). It is not enough
for plaintiff to simply allege these elements in boilerplate language;
the complaint must contain sufficient facts supporting each element. Id.
To satisfy the conduct element, plaintiff must allege facts showing
that each defendant played a role in the operation or management of the
enterprise. Reyes v. Ernst & Young, 507 U.S. 170, 179 (1993). As we read
plaintiff's complaint, she alleges that each defendant played an active
role in the solicitation of funds and helped to develop the plan. She
therefore satisfies the first element of her RICO claim.
She also alleges the existence of an "association in fact" enterprise.
RICO requires that such an enterprise be more than just a group of
individuals who decide to commit racketeering; it must have "goals
separate from the predicate acts themselves." United States v. Masters,
924 F.2d 1362, 1367 (7th Cir. 1991); Stachon v. United Consumers Club,
Inc., 229 F.3d 673, 675 (7th Cir. 2000) (while it may be informal, there
must be some type of organizational structure).
In Stachon, the plaintiffs allege that the United Consumers Club (UCC)
and five of its officers and/or directors conspired to fraudulently
represent to potential members that the UCC had access to first quality
merchandise at special prices, 229 F.3d at 674. The plaintiffs claim that
they relied on these misrepresentations when joining the UCC. Id. In
affirming the dismissal of plaintiffs' RICO claim, the Seventh Circuit
determined that plaintiffs failed to allege that the acts were the work of an organization separate from the
UCC. Id. at 676. At most, the complaint established that there was a
pattern of misrepresentation by a group of defendants. Id.
While the overall structure of the organization as alleged by plaintiff
is similar to that in Stachon, she alleges that an association existed
that had goals separate from the sheriff's office itself. If proven, an
enterprise was created when the sheriff's department and Sheahan's
re-election efforts essentially merged. Plaintiff claims that these two
groups formed an association in fact when it, through the ...