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Marcatante v. City of Chicago

March 31, 2008

JOHN MARCATANTE, JOHN KLAES, JERRY WHITLEY, AND THOMAS SADOWSKI, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter comes before the court on cross motions for summary judgment. Plaintiffs John Marcatante, John Klaes, Jerry Whitley, and Thomas Sadowski ("Plaintiffs"), move on behalf of themselves and a previously certified class for summary judgment of liability against Defendant City of Chicago ("the City") on the five counts of the complaint. The City moves for summary judgment in its favor on all five counts. For the reasons set forth below, each motion is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs are former employees of Defendant City of Chicago. Marcatante, Klaes, and Whitley each worked in the Department of Aviation, while Sadowski was employed by the Department of Fleet Management. Each was a member of a trade union, and their terms of employment were set forth in collective bargaining agreements ("CBAs") between the City and their respective unions.

The CBAs that were in effect for July 1999-June 2003 expired on June 30, 2003. To bargain for subsequent CBAs, the unions to which Plaintiffs belonged joined in a coalition of 35 building trade unions. However, the City and the coalition were unable to craft replacement agreements before June 30. Shortly before the expiration date, the attorneys for the City and for the coalition agreed to extend the terms of the 1999-2003 agreements through midnight, July 30. The arrangement was memorialized in a letter dated June 26, 2003 ("the June letter"). It specified that, after July 30, the agreements would continue day to day, with no change in their terms, unless one of the parties terminated in writing. The June letter further stated that "the City agrees that wage increases, if any, agreed to by the parties shall be retroactive to July 1, 2003, unless the parties mutually agree to another date."

In late 2003 or early 2004, the City offered an early retirement incentive program ("ERIP") to eligible employees. Each named Plaintiff took advantage of this program and retired in February or March 2004. Meanwhile, the City and the coalition continued their negotiations. On July 18, 2005, they reached a tentative agreement. In part, it provided for retroactive wage increases for work performed between July 1, 2003, and July 18, 2005, but only for two identified groups of employees. The first consisted of employees who were on the City payroll as of July 18, 2005. The second was comprised of employees who had been laid off with recall rights. On October 6, 2005, the City Council ratified the new CBAs and they took effect.

Because Plaintiffs did not fall within the two groups identified in the agreement, they did not receive retroactive wage increases. In January 2006, Plaintiffs filed a five-count complaint against the City. Counts I and V claim violations of procedural due process: Count I is premised on the denial of the wage increases; Count V, on the City's alleged failure to provide full information about the ERIP to prospective participants. Count II is an equal protection claim. Counts III and IV are state-law causes of action, for breach of contract and quasi-contract actions, respectively.

On December 21, 2007, this court certified a class consisting of all City employees who 1) left their job with the City 2) between June 30, 2003, and July 18, 2005, 3) via the ERIP and 4) belonged to the bargaining units of the unions within the coalition when they left their City job. Each side now moves for summary judgment on all counts of the class complaint.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate only when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 56(c). A genuine issue of material fact exists when the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could find for the non-movant. Buscaglia v. United States, 25 F.3d 530, 534 (7th Cir. 1994). The movant in a motion for summary judgment bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact by specific citation to the record; if the party succeeds in doing so, the burden shifts to the non-movant to set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of fact for trial. Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 56(e); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2554 (1986). In considering motions for summary judgment, a court construes all facts and draws all inferences from the record in favor of the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2513 (1986).

When parties file cross motions for summary judgment, each motion must be assessed independently, and denial of one does not necessitate the grant of the other.

M. Snower & Co. v. United States, 140 F.2d 367, 369 (7th Cir. 1944). Rather, each motion evidences only that the movant believes it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the issues within its motion and that trial is the appropriate course of action if the court disagrees with that assessment. Miller v. LeSea Broadcasting, Inc., 87 F.3d 224, 230 (7th Cir. 1996).

With these principles in mind, we turn to the ...


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