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Delapaz v. City of Chicago

October 16, 2007

PABLO DELAPAZ, MICHAEL SARKAUSKAS AND JOSEPH NASELLA, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, MICHAEL PICARDI, ROBERT RICHARDSON, AND MEL WILSON, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge George M. Marovich

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs Pablo Delapaz ("Delapaz"), Michael Sarkauskas ("Sarkauskas") and Joseph Nasella ("Nasella") filed a complaint against defendants City of Chicago, Michael Picardi ("Picardi"), Robert Richardson ("Richardson") and Mel Wilson ("Wilson"). Each plaintiff brings a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for defendants' alleged violation of his constitutional right of freedom of association. Defendants move to dismiss the complaint. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants in part and denies in part defendants' motion.

I. Background

The Court takes as true the allegations in plaintiffs' complaint.

Defendants Picardi, Richardson and Wilson are all employed by the City of Chicago. Since 2005, Picardi has been Streets and Sanitation Commissioner, and Richardson has been Deputy Commissioner of Street Operations. Since 2004, Wilson has been a manager in Field Maintenance for the City of Chicago. Plaintiffs, too, have worked for the City of Chicago, and they allege that their positions have changed with the political winds.

Plaintiff Delapaz has worked for the City of Chicago since 1984, when he accepted a position as a truck driver. Delapaz, who has been a volunteer for the Hispanic Democratic Organization since 1996, was promoted to foreman in 1998. In 2001, Al Sanchez (who was, at the time, the Streets and Sanitation Commissioner) promoted Delapaz to acting general foreman.

By 2005, Sanchez retired and was replaced as Streets and Sanitation Commissioner by defendant Picardi. Picardi was not a member of the Hispanic Democratic Organization. Rather, he was associated with Alderman Richard Mell ("Ald. Mell"). In the spring of 2005, Picardi informed plaintiff Delapaz that the Hispanic Democratic Organization was dead. Defendant Picardi demoted plaintiff Delapaz to foreman (from acting general foreman) and told him, "You are not in charge of nothing." Delapaz claims that Picardi demoted him for being involved with the Hispanic Democratic Organization instead of with Ald. Mell.

Like Delapaz, plaintiff Sarkauskas was a long-time (since 1979) truck driver for the City of Chicago. Sarkauskas joined the Hispanic Democratic Organization in 1998, and, in 2000, was promoted to acting foreman. In 2005, defendant Richardson instructed Delapaz to inform Sarkauskas that he was being demoted from acting foreman to truck driver. Sarkauskas claims that this demotion was based on the fact that he belonged to the Hispanic Democratic Organization rather than Ald. Mell's organization. Sarkauskas also claims he was denied a promotion to acting foreman in January 2006 because he was a member of the Hispanic Democratic Organization.

Plaintiff Nasella has worked for the City of Chicago as a machinist in the Field Maintenance Department since 1994. He has volunteered for the Hispanic Democratic Organization since 1993. In 2004, Nasella bid for a position as foreman in Field Maintenance.

An employee with less experience and no affiliation with the Hispanic Democratic Organization was selected over Nasella. In February 2006, Nasella was suspended by defendant Wilson for fifteen days for unsafe work practices. Nasella claims that the reason he was suspended in 2006 and not promoted in 2004 is that he was involved with the Hispanic Democratic Organization instead of with Ald. Mell.

Defendants move to dismiss plaintiffs' claims.

II. Standard on a Motion to Dismiss

The Court may dismiss a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure if the plaintiff fails "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In considering a motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiffs' favor. McCullah v. Gadert, 344 F.3d 655, 657 (7th Cir. 2003). Under the notice-pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must "give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombley, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). A complaint need not provide detailed factual allegations, but mere conclusions and a "formulaic recitation of the ...


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