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Marcatante v. City of Chicago

August 10, 2006

JOHN MARCATANTE, JOHN KLAES, JERRY WHITLEY AND THOMAS SADOWSKI, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

The following matter is before the court on the motion of Defendant, City of Chicago ("City"), to dismiss Counts I, II, III, IV, and V of Plaintiffs', John Marcantante; John Klaes; Jerry Whitley; and Thomas Sadowski (collectively referred to as "Plaintiffs"), First Amended Complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below the Motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs are former City employees who, while so employed, worked under collective bargaining agreements ("CBA") that were due to expire on or about June 30, 2003 and covered employees represented by a coalition of thirty or more labor unions ("unions"). In a June 26, 2003 letter (the "June Letter") between the City and the coalition counsel, conversations regarding the extension of union contracts were confirmed. The letter indicated that the current agreements were to continue on a day-to-day basis and the terms therein were to continue without change. The letter further addressed the issue of wage increases as consideration for the extension of the current CBA and continued work of union employees. The letter was signed by: Marvin Gittler, Coalition Counsel; Michael Duffee, Chief Labor Counsel for the City of Chicago; and Martin Gomez, Director of Labor Relations for the City of Chicago.

After the June 30, 2003 CBA termination date, Plaintiffs continued to work for the City until February of 2004, when they retired in accordance with a City early retirement offer. At that time, a new CBA had not been reached between the City and the unions; however, in October of 2005, the unions and the City reached a new CBA granting retroactive pay increases to City employees that were employed before July 1, 2003 and still employees as of July 18th, 2005. Plaintiffs did not receive the retroactive wage increases because they had retired prior to the applicable date.

On January 20, 2006, Plaintiffs filed the instant suit, and on April 14, 2006, filed a five Count First Amended Complaint alleging two violations of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, 42 U.S.C § 1983; a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, 42 U.S.C § 1983; breach of contract; and Quantum Meruit under Illinois law. In response, the City filed the instant Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint in its entirety.

LEGAL STANDARDS

When considering a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court evaluates the legal sufficiency of a plaintiff's complaint, not the merits. Gibson v. City of Chi., 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). We must accept all well-pleaded allegations as true and will not dismiss a case for failure to state a claim unless the plaintiff cannot prove any facts sufficient to support his claim. Conley, 355 U.S. at 45-46. All inferences are to be drawn in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Jackson v. E.J. Branch Corp., 176 F.3d 971, 978 (7th Cir. 1999). To survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff need only provide a "short and plain statement" under Rule 8(a)(2); the particulars of the claim are not required. Midwest Gas Servs. v. Ind. Gas. Co., 317 F.3d 703, 710 (7th Cir. 2002). Nonetheless, to withstand a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege facts setting forth the essential elements of the cause of action. Doherty v. City of Chi., 75 F.3d 318, 326 (7th Cir. 1996). With these principles in mind, we turn to the instant Motion.

DISCUSSION

For the most part, the City's arguments in support of its Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(b)(6) Motion asks that we make factual determinations, which are presently inappropriate. As previously stated, the depth of our review under such a motion is confined to assessing whether Plaintiffs have posited legally sufficient facts to place defendants on notice of their asserted causes of action. Accordingly, we address each Count under that standard.

A. Count I: Due Process

Count I of the First Amended Complaint alleges that the City failed to provide Plaintiffs with proper notice and an opportunity to be heard at the time the City made its decision on retroactive pay increases. In order for a plaintiff to have a valid due process claim there must be an allegation of a violation of substantive or procedural right of due process in connection with a protected liberty or property interest. SeeSmith v. Board of Educ. Of City of Chicago, 853 F.2d 517, 520 (7th Cir. 1988). The property interest claim must be legitimate and the right asserted must be more than just a desire for the property in dispute. Miller v. Crystal Lake Park Dist., 47 F.3d 865, 867 (7th Cir. 1995).

The City argues that Plaintiffs have no constitutionally protected right to the retroactive wage increase. In contrast, Plaintiffs clearly alleges that the retroactive pay increase constitutes a constitutionally protected property interest. Plaintiffs contend the source of this interest is the alleged contract created by the June Letter. The Seventh Circuit has found that a written contract can be the source of a constitutional property interest. See Cushing v. City of Chicago, 3 F.3d 1156, 1159-1160 (7th Cir. 1993). It is evident that Plaintiffs allege that the June Letter constituted a contract governing their rights to retroactive wage increases which was subsequently altered by the CBA. Specifically, Plaintiffs submit that the new CBA affected their property interests in receiving the retroactive pay increase. Further, Plaintiffs' contend that they were not afforded adequate notice or an opportunity to be heard regarding such. Although the City maintains that the facts indicate that the June Letter did not ...


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