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Rante v. City of Wood Dale

February 5, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert W. Gettleman United States District Judge

Judge Robert W. Gettleman


Plaintiff Michael Rante filed a three-count amended complaint against defendants City of Wood Dale ("Wood Dale"), Kenneth Johnson, and Marshall Subach, alleging national origin discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Count I), § 1982 (Count II), and § 1983 (Count III). The parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, the court grants defendants' motion for summary judgment and denies plaintiff's motion.


Development History

Plaintiff, a developer, was born in Italy in 1939 and has lived in the United States since 1966. Prior to 2001, plaintiff built three developments in Wood Dale: two multi-tenant buildings and a 6-unit condominium project. In early 2001, plaintiff purchased a five-acre piece of property in Wood Dale from Daniel and Judith Kuesis with the intention of developing it into fourteen single family homes. On January 8, 2001, plaintiff filed an application for the subdivision of the property with defendant Wood Dale. Plaintiff alleges that then-City Attorney James Zimmerman ("Zimmerman") gave the subdivision the name "Villa Oaks," but plaintiff's own subdivision application listed the proposed name as "Villa Oaks of Wood Dale."

On January 26, 2001, Roger Nowick, Wood Dale's Community Development Director ("Nowick"), sent plaintiff preliminary engineering plans prepared by the city's consulting engineer, marked "return for corrections." On January 31, 2001, Frank Aiello, an engineer employed by a firm contracted by Wood Dale, advised Nowick that the engineering plans for the subdivision had been approved. On February 5, 2001, Nowick recommended approval of the subdivision to defendant Wood Dale's Plan Commission. That same day, plaintiff appeared before the Plan Commission and presented his development proposal for the subdivision, which the Plan Commission voted to approve, subject to final engineering approval and approval of the Subdivider's Agreement by the City Attorney.

On March 8, 2001, plaintiff attended a meeting of Wood Dale's Building, Zoning and Development Committee. At that meeting, the Committee discussed the naming of a street within the subdivision. Defendant Subach, a Wood Dale alderman, suggested allowing nonprofit organizations to bid on the rights to name the street. According to the meeting minutes, the name under consideration as of March 8, 2001, was "Villa Cara."

On March 15, 2001, the Wood Dale City Council, including defendant Subach, voted unanimously to approve plaintiff's proposed subdivision, subject to final engineering approval. The meeting minutes indicate that the subdivision was known at this point as "Villa Cara," although it is unclear to the court when and how the name of the subdivision changed.

From April to June of 2001, Aiello exchanged drafts of the engineering plans with James Loeppert ("Loeppert"), plaintiff's retained engineer. On June 20, 2001, Aiello provided plaintiff with a four-page list of items necessary for correction prior to engineering approval by Wood Dale. On June 29, 2001, Zimmerman sent a draft of the proposed Subdivider's Agreement to Lawrence Leavitt ("Leavitt"), plaintiff's real estate attorney. In that draft, the name of the street at issue was listed as "Cara Lane."

On December 6, 2001, Leavitt told Loeppert that his failure to submit the final engineering plans for the subdivision was causing plaintiff economic problems because plaintiff was unable to complete the development project. On May 8, 2002, Aiello wrote a memorandum to Nowick regarding "final engineering plans submitted by Loeppert on behalf of plaintiff. According to that memorandum, Aiello had attempted to contact Loeppert several times regarding deficiencies in the engineering plans, but Loeppert failed to return his calls. On June 10, 2002, Leavitt wrote a letter to Loeppert confirming that Loeppert was "completing all documents necessary for the Villa Cara Project and that [Loeppert] would deliver those documents directly to [Leavitt's] office." On June 17, 2002, Leavitt's partner made a "final demand" to Loeppert for delivery of the final engineering plans. Plaintiff then terminated Loeppert because he was dissatisfied with his performance, specifically because his failure to complete the engineering plans rendered plaintiff unable to obtain building permits from Wood Dale.

On July 11, 2002, Wood Dale's consulting engineer received revised final engineering plans from Haeger Engineering ("Haeger"), retained by plaintiff to replace Loeppert and complete the plans. On September 11, 2002, after several plan drafts, Aiello told Nowick that the plans were "approved as noted." That same day, plaintiff received a "stop work" notice after Wood Dale discovered that plaintiff was installing water and sanitary sewer mains in the Villa Cara subdivision without the requisite permits of inspections of the work. After several rounds of correspondence among Haeger, Nowick, and Aiello, Haeger submitted revised plans to Aiello on October 24, 2002, which he approved on February 18, 2003.

On or around July 7, 2003, Haeger again submitted revised engineering plans, which had been requested by plaintiff to alter the slopes of the backyards of the subdivisions. On July 17, 2003, Aiello approved the revised plans. Plaintiff received a ...

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