The opinion of the court was delivered by: MATTHEW KENNELLY, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Tonisha Via filed suit against four employees and officials of
the Department of Child Protection ("DCP") of the Illinois
Department of Children and Family Services ("DCFS") pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Illinois law. Via alleges that she was
falsely accused of mistreating a child in her care and as a
result was blacklisted from her profession as a child care
teacher, and that the defendants also should be held liable for
intentional infliction of emotional distress. Defendants have
moved for summary judgment on Via's federal law claims based on
qualified immunity and on her state law claims based on immunity
and insufficient pleading.
For the reasons stated below, the Court grants summary judgment
in favor of Montalvo, Goad, and Eads' favor on Via's § 1983 claim
but denies summary judgment for LaGrand on the § 1983 claim as
well as on the state law claims against all four defendants. Facts and Procedural History
Via was employed as a child care teacher at KinderCare Learning
Centers, Inc., in Elgin, Illinois. On the afternoon of April 11,
2001, Via was caring for a six-month old child, Madison L., who
was enrolled at KinderCare. Via claims that Madison L. was
unusually upset that afternoon and had demonstrated similar
behavior the previous day. Compl. ¶¶ 35, 36. While changing
Madison's diaper, Via noticed that the baby was experiencing pain
in her left leg. Via notified another teacher and the facility's
director, who also examined the girl and decided to call
Madison's mother. Madison's mother picked up her daughter and
took her to a hospital, where it was determined that she had a
broken left leg. Id. ¶ 39.
DCFS has procedures by which it investigates, reports and
tracks allegations of child abuse pursuant to the requirements of
the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act ("ANCRA"),
325 ILCS 5/1 et seq. DCFS operates the Child Abuse and Neglect
Tracking System ("CANTS") in accordance with this mandate. Under
CANTS, any time the Child Abuse Hotline receives a phone call
alleging child abuse, child welfare professionals with DCFS
investigate the report and determine if the person accused is
responsible for the act. Specifically, the investigators
determine whether abuse is "indicated" based upon the existence
of "credible evidence," or whether the report is "unfounded."
We are not provided with information indicating how DCFS became
involved in investigating Madison's broken leg. Shortly after
April 11, 2001, however, defendant Sandra LaGrand, a DCP
investigator, conducted an investigation into the injury
sustained by Madison. Defendant Roi Montalvo supervised LaGrand's
investigation. Allegedly applying DCFS policies and procedures,
Defendant LaGrand determined that there was credible evidence to support an indicated report of abuse of Madison against Via, and
Montalvo approved this report. Compl. ¶ 42. Via alleges that
despite the fact that there was no credible evidence against her,
LaGrand recommended, and Montalvo approved, an "indicated"
finding against her. Id. DCFS notified KinderCare of the
finding, and Via was fired from her job there. Id. ¶ 43.
Under CANTS, following the making of an indicated report, a
final report is entered into a central register. 325 ILCS 5/7.7.
The accused is not afforded an opportunity for a hearing before
the report is entered into the register. Compl. ¶ 27(d). After
receiving notice of an indicated report, the accused may appeal
to DCFS for an administrative hearing before an Administrative
Law Judge. Id. ¶ 24. The ALJ uses a preponderance of evidence
test to determine guilt, as opposed to the credible evidence
standard employed throughout the investigation. Id. ¶ 25. If
the subject's appeal is successful, the DCFS Director makes a
final decision whether the report should be expunged from the
central register. Id. The indicated report remains in the
register through the entire appeal process. Id. ¶ 27(f).
The indicated report against Via was made on May 16, 2001; she
received notice of the finding in a letter dated September 14,
2001. Via initiated the appeals process and appeared before an
ALJ in October, 2002, approximately seventeen months after the
initial report. Compl. ¶ 46. Via alleges that the ALJ repeatedly
advised DCFS during the hearing to expunge the report from its
records but that the Assistant Associate Deputy Director for
Child Protection in Cook County, Mary Ellen Eads, refused to
expunge the report. Id. Via further alleges that John Goad, the
Associate Deputy Director for Child Protection, supported Eads'
decision to resist expungement. The report was ultimately
expunged on January 16, 2003, exactly twenty months after the
indicated report was made, after the ALJ issued a written
recommendation for expungement. Id.
Following the expungement, Via filed suit against LaGrand,
Montalvo, Eads, and Goad, alleging that they violated her
constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and committed
intentional infliction of emotional distress under Illinois law.
Via claimed that LaGrand and Montalvo's use of the credible
evidence standard in indicating her for child abuse or neglect
violated due process. As to Goad and Eads, Via claimed that their
maintenance and enforcement of the credible evidence standard
throughout the investigation and appeal of her case violated due
process. In addition, she alleged that the evidence against her
failed to meet even the credible standard and that indicating her
for child abuse violated due process irrespective of the standard
that properly applies. Compl. ¶ 1.
All four defendants moved to dismiss Via's claims based on
qualified immunity and Via's failure to allege their personal
involvement in any constitutional violation. The Court granted
the motion in part and denied it part. Via v. LaGrand, et al.,
No. 03 C 3278, 2003 WL 22901210, * 2 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 9, 2003).
The Court first rejected defendants' personal involvement claims.
Id. The Court then moved on to the qualified immunity inquiry
and ruled that allegations in Via's complaint were insufficient
to defeat qualified immunity for Goad or Eads because they were
charged with relying on subordinates and therefore could not be
held liable for intentional deprivation of Via's constitutional
rights. Id. at *5. With respect to LaGrand and Montalvo, the
Court ruled they could not be held liable for their use of the
credible evidence standard because the unconstitutionality of
that standard was not yet clearly established at the time of the investigation of Via.*fn1 Id. at *4.
The Court did, however, direct LaGrand and Montalvo to answer
Via's § 1983 claim based on the theory that they indicated her
without any supporting evidence at all. Id. Finally, the Court
directed all four defendants to answer Via's state law claims.
After the Court's ruling on the motion to dismiss, Via amended
her complaint to add allegations against Goad and Eads in an
effort to defeat qualified immunity. She now alleges that their
resistance to expungement even after finding out that there was
no credible evidence against Via violated due process. Am. Compl.
Summary judgment is appropriate when there are no genuine
issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). In considering a motion for summary judgment,
the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party and draws reasonable ...