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Tania Consulting Services, Inc. v. City of Chicago

April 5, 2007

TANIA CONSULTING SERVICES, INC., ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE CITY OF CHICAGO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendants' motion to dismiss. For the reasons stated below, we grant Defendants' motion to dismiss. We also decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims and dismiss the instant action.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Tania Consulting Services, Inc. ("TCS") and Nihad Albahrani ("Albahrani") allege that TCS is a sole proprietorship owned by Albahrani. Plaintiffs contend that TCS is a professional design and engineering firm that provides construction management, supervision, and inspection services. TCS has allegedly been certified by Defendant City of Chicago ("City") as a Minority and Women-Owned Business ("MBE/WBE") and TCS has allegedly applied for construction management program contracts with the Chicago Department of Transportation ("CDOT"), which is a department within the City. Plaintiffs claim that TCS has applied for contracts with CDOT for five years and that TCS has received two contracts. Plaintiffs have alleged that CDOT has a custom of awarding contracts to "non-Middle Eastern firms" that are owned by males and individuals who are relatives of CDOT employees and that TCS was discriminated against in the contract selection process. (SA Compl. Par. 19). Plaintiffs also contend that the City has not paid $5,041.44, which is allegedly owed to TCS for the contracts that it was awarded, and that the City has not allowed Plaintiffs to work on the contracts that were awarded to TCS.

Plaintiffs brought the instant action against the City and included in the second amended complaint claims against Defendants Thomas H. Powers, Christopher A. Kent, and Robert Loomis (collectively referred to as "Individual Defendants"). Plaintiffs' second amended complaint includes a claim alleging violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(d)-2000(d)(7) ("Title VI") against the City and Individual Defendants (Count I), a claim alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 ("Section1981") against the City and Individual Defendants (Count II), a claim alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII") against the City (Count III), a claim alleging violations of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 ("EPA"), 29 U.S.C. § 206(d) against the City (Count IV), a claim alleging violations of the Illinois Civil Rights Act of 2002, 740 ILCS 23/1 et seq., ("ICRA") against the City (Count V), a claim alleging violations of the Public Works Employment Discrimination Act, 775 ILCS 10/0.01, et seq., ("PWEDA") against the City and Individual Defendants (Count VI), a breach of contract claim against the City based upon a failure to pay amounts owed on the contracts awarded to TCS (Count VII), a breach of contract claim against the City based upon wrongfully removing TCS from the contracts that it was awarded (Count VIII), and an intentional interference with contract ("IIC") claim against Individual Defendants (Count IX). Defendants move to dismiss the instant action.

LEGAL STANDARD

In ruling on a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must draw all reasonable inferences that favor the plaintiff, construe the allegations of the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and accept as true all well-pleaded facts and allegations in the complaint. Thompson v. Ill. Dep't of Prof'l Regulation, 300 F.3d 750, 753 (7th Cir. 2002); Perkins v. Silverstein, 939 F.2d 463, 466 (7th Cir. 1991). The allegations of a complaint should not be dismissed for a failure to state a claim "unless 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); see also Baker v. Kingsley, 387 F.3d 649, 664 (7th Cir. 2004)(stating that although the "plaintiffs' allegations provide[d] little detail. . . [the court could not] say at [that] early stage in the litigation that plaintiffs [could] prove no set of facts in support of their claim that would entitle them to relief"). Nonetheless, in order to withstand a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege the "operative facts" upon which each claim is based. Kyle v. Morton High School, 144 F.3d 448, 454-55 (7th Cir. 1998); Lucien v. Preiner, 967 F.2d 1166, 1168 (7th Cir. 1992). Under current notice pleading standard in federal courts, a plaintiff need not "plead facts that, if true, establish each element of a 'cause of action. . . .'" See Sanjuan v. American Bd. of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc., 40 F.3d 247, 251 (7th Cir. 1994)(stating that "[a]t this stage the plaintiff receives the benefit of imagination, so long as the hypotheses are consistent with the complaint" and that "[m]atching facts against legal elements comes later"). The plaintiff need not allege all of the facts involved in the claim and can plead conclusions. Higgs v. Carver, 286 F.3d 437, 439 (7th Cir. 2002); Kyle, 144 F.3d at 455. However, any conclusions pled must "provide the defendant with at least minimal notice of the claim," id., and the plaintiff cannot satisfy federal pleading requirements merely "by attaching bare legal conclusions to narrated facts which fail to outline the bases of [his] claims." Perkins, 939 F.2d at 466-67; Nance v. Vieregge, 147 F.3d 589, 590 (7th Cir. 1998)(stating that "[p]laintiffs need not plead facts or legal theories; it is enough to set out a claim for relief").

DISCUSSION

I. Title VI Claims (Count I)

Defendants contend that Plaintiffs have failed to state a Title VI claim. Title VI provides that "[n]o person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." 42 U.S.C. § 2000d. A plaintiff bringing a Title VI claim must establish that the defendant engaged in "intentional discrimination." Brewer v. Board of Trustees of University of IL, 2007 WL 841039, at *12 (7th Cir. 2007)(citing Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U.S. 275, 280 (2001)).

In the instant action, Plaintiffs allege that many of the CDOT construction projects for which the contracts are awarded receive federal funding. (SA Compl.19). Plaintiffs contend that Defendants discriminated against TCS because TCS is owned by a woman, is not owned by a relative of a CDOT employee, and is owned by a person of Middle Eastern descent. (SA Compl. Par. 4, 19). We first note that there are no facts or allegations in the second amended complaint that indicate that the alleged discrimination is intentional. There are no facts that enable one to infer that there was intentional discriminatory conduct on the part of CDOT. Thus, Plaintiffs have failed to allege intentional discrimination, which is required to establish a Title VI claim.

To the extent that Plaintiffs allege that CDOT discriminated against women and unfairly gave contracts to relatives of CDOT employees, the Title VI claim fails on its face since Title VI only prohibits discrimination based upon "race, color, or national origin. . . ." 42 U.S.C. § 2000d; see also Stevens v. Skenandore, 2000 WL 1069404, at *2 (7th Cir. 2000)(stating that the plaintiff failed "to state a claim under Title VI, which prohibits discrimination based only on race, color or national origin" since the plaintiff alleged "discrimination on the basis of a learning disability and thus his claim [wa]s not cognizable under Title VI").

Plaintiffs' allegation that the contracts "are allocated to male and non-Middle Eastern firms" is directly contradicted in the next paragraph of the second amended complaint, which states that TCS, a firm owned by a person of Middle Eastern descent, was awarded contracts by CDOT. (SA Compl. Par. 4, 19-20). In addition, we note that Plaintiffs go into detail regarding a variety of favorable treatment given by CDOT to consultants that are "recent arrivals to the United States" and to firms such as Shah Engineering and Omega & Associates, whose principal is Chandra N. Prassad. (SA Compl. Par. 29-31).

Plaintiffs base this case on their contention that CDOT only awards contracts to "favored firms." (SA Compl. Par. 32). It is clear that such a reference is to firms that have close ties with CDOT. Plaintiffs once again contradict themselves and first allege in a conclusory fashion that there was discrimination against female owned firms, but later in the second amended complaint contend that eight female owned firms were given more preferential treatment than TCS. (SA Compl. Par. 28). It is thus clear that Plaintiffs' complaint about contracts going to "favored firms" is not about gender discrimination, but rather is about contracts going to firms that have close ties or connections with CDOT. This fact is also illustrated by Plaintiffs' complaint that relatives of CDOT employees received contracts. However, such conduct based upon the connections of firms and ties with ...


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