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Alcazar-Anselmo v. City of Chicago

April 18, 2008

GLADYS ALCAZAR-ANSELMO PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, AND NORMA REYES, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wayne R. Andersen, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This matter comes before the court on defendants' motion to dismiss [18] defendant Norma Reyes both in her individual and official capacity and to dismiss Count III of the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Gladys Alcazar-Anselmo has filed a three-count complaint against defendants City of Chicago and Norma Reyes, both individually and in her official capacity, alleging a violation of the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 ("FMLA") based on the denial of a request for leave, a violation of FMLA for retaliatory discharge, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Specifically, plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, along with reinstatement of her position with back pay and other relief.

Plaintiff bases her complaint on the following allegations: Plaintiff was employed by the City of Chicago from about October 1997 through May 2007. During all relevant times, Norma Reyes was plaintiff's supervisor. Plaintiff alleges that both defendants qualify as an "employer" under the FMLA. Sometime before March 2007, plaintiff alleges that she submitted a request for leave and was granted leave under the FMLA. In March 2007, plaintiff requested additional leave under the FMLA to undergo further treatment related to her initial request. Defendants denied the request for additional leave and subsequently terminated plaintiff's employment.

In Count I, plaintiff alleges that defendants violated the FMLA by denying her second request for leave. In Count II, plaintiff alleges defendants violated the FMLA by discharging her in retaliation for exercising her rights under the FMLA. Finally, in Count III, plaintiff alleges that defendants engaged in extreme and outrageous conduct beyond the bounds of decency, and as a result, she suffered severe emotional distress and mental anguish.

Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss with respect to the claims against defendant Reyes, both individually and in her official capacity, as well as the claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. Defendants maintain that Reyes should be dismissed in both her individual and official capacities because plaintiff has failed to adequately plead individual liability under the FMLA, and the claim against Reyes in her official capacity is duplicative with the claim against the City of Chicago. Defendants also contend that the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim should be dismissed because the Illinois Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act shields defendants from liability, and additionally, defendants claim that plaintiff has failed to adequately state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress under Illinois law.

Defendants also have moved to strike plaintiff's request for punitive damages. In plaintiff's response to defendants' motion to dismiss, she agreed to withdraw her claim for punitive damages, so the court will not address that claim.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

For a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint will not be dismissed unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim entitling him to relief. See Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957); Sherwin Manor Nursing Center, Inc. v. McAuliffe, 37 F.3d 1216, 1219 (7th Cir. 1994). All well-pleaded facts will be taken as true and all reasonable inferences shall be drawn in the plaintiff's favor. See Cole v. U.S. Capital, 389 F.3d 719, 724 (7th Cir. 2004).

DISCUSSION

Defendants first claim that Reyes should be dismissed from this action in her individual capacity because plaintiff has failed to allege any action on Reyes' part. Though the issue of individual liability has not yet been addressed by the United States Supreme Court or the Seventh Circuit, courts in this district generally agree that individuals can be held liable under the FMLA. See Smith v. Univ. of Chicago Hosp., 2003 WL 22757754, at *6 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 20, 2003). To determine whether an individual is liable as an employer under the FMLA, courts look to the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") because it defines the term "employer" in almost identical language to the FMLA. Id. Under the FLSA, a person is considered an "employer" and subject to individual liability if two conditions are met: (1) the individual had supervisory authority over the plaintiff; and (2) the individual was at least partly responsible for the alleged violation. See Wilson v. Advocate Health and Hosp. Corp., 2006 WL 1749662, at *2 (N.D. Ill. June 21, 2006).

Defendants concede that plaintiff satisfied the first prong by alleging that Reyes was plaintiff's supervisor. However, defendants move to dismiss Reyes in her individual capacity because plaintiff fails to allege that Reyes specifically was responsible for the alleged actions.

Stating, as plaintiff does in her complaint, that "defendants" are responsible for the actions at issue is not sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss with respect to an individual defendant. See Evans v. Henderson, 2000 WL 1161075, at *3 (N.D. Ill. August 16, 2000). Since plaintiff fails to allege that Reyes specifically committed any of the acts in question, defendants' motion is granted with ...


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