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Chicago Police Sergeants Association v. City of Chicago

May 8, 2009

CHICAGO POLICE SERGEANTS ASSOCIATION, SERGEANT LISA PRICE, AND SERGEANT RICHARD WISER, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This case arises out of an eight-count complaint [1] filed by Plaintiffs, Chicago Police Sergeants Association ("the Association"), Sergeant Lisa Price ("Price"), and Sergeant Richard Wiser ("Wiser") (collectively "the Plaintiffs"), against Defendant, the City of Chicago ("the City"). Plaintiffs'claims are based on the City's promotional examination for the rank of lieutenant, and the City's use of a re-test in promoting applicants after unspecified administration problems hindered the first test. Currently before the Court is Defendant' s motion to dismiss the complaint [16] for failure to state a cognizable claim, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Notably, among Defendant' s arguments are that Plaintiffs are barred from maintaining their action based on the Rooker-Feldman Doctrine. If that doctrine applies, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, and therefore Rule 12(b)(1), rather than 12(b)(6), governs this portion of Defendant' s motion. The distinction matters because evidence extrinsic to the pleadings -- which both parties have submitted -- may be considered in deciding motions under the former rule, but not under the latter rule.

For the reasons stated below, Defendant' s motion is denied.

I. Background*fn1

The Chicago Police Sergeants Association, is an Illinois not-for-profit corporation. Price and Wiser both hold the rank of Sergeant with the Chicago Police Department. (Compl. ¶¶ 6-8.)

In July 2006, the City announced that it would be conducting an examination for the rank of lieutenant, comprising written and oral portions. In order to take the oral portion, an applicant first had to pass the written portion, which both Price and Wiser did. (Id. ¶¶ 16-17.) The oral portion was made up of seven different scenarios. (Id. ¶ 21.) These scenarios were designed to test the applicants' immediate responses to particular situations and determine whether the applicants possessed certain desirable traits in a lieutenant (such as eloquence, empathy, and the ability to think on one's feet). (Id. ¶¶ 24, 30.) For the first scenario, applicants were given twenty-minutes to prepare a response, but the final six scenarios were videotaped recordings. Each applicant would view a clip and then had ninety-seconds to give a response. (Id. ¶¶ 22-23.)

Wiser and Price took the oral portion on January 6, 2007 ("the January exam"), but were told that 51 of the 660 results might not have been properly recorded. (Id. ¶¶ 17-18, 28.) The City responded to the situation by allowing anyone to take a re-test on June 23, 2007 ("the June re-test"), or to rest on his or her January exam performance. (Id. ¶ 25.) The re-test consisted of the same questions as had appeared on the January exam (id.), which Plaintiff alleges essentially turned an exercise in quick thinking into an effort at memorization (id. ¶ 32). Moreover, after the January exam, but before the June re-test, certain applicants -- but not Price and Wiser -- received information from "senior command personnel" or "other supervisors" about the proper format for answering the test questions. (Id. ¶ 33.) Plaintiff argues that because the test procedures did not accurately measure the skills needed to be a lieutenant, the test violated the City's Personnel Rules. (Id. ¶ 32.) The relevant rule provides that "the test shall be held in such ways and under such conditions as to prevent fraud or other misconduct." (Id. ¶ 14 (quoting Rule 9, § 4 of the City' s Personnel Rules).)

In addition to not having received guidance from higher-ups, Price, Wiser, and other applicants, had made travel and furlough plans at the time of the June re-test. Other applicants could not take the re-test because they could not get the day off. (Id. ¶ 35.)

Count I of the complaint alleges that the City violated the "Shakman Decree," which refers to consent decrees that "enjoined the City from ' conditioning, basing or affecting of employment with the City of Chicago on political reasons or factors while maintaining the ability of the elected officials of the City lawfully to establish, manage and direct the policies and affairs of the City.'

"O'Sullivan v. City of Chicago, 396 F.3d 843, 848 (7th Cir. 2005). Count II alleges that the City breached its collective bargaining agreement with the Association, in violation of state law and 29 U.S.C. § 185 (suits by and against labor organizations).

Count III seeks from the Court a writ of mandamus to compel the City to, inter alia, discard the 2007 round of testing, discontinue using the 2007 tests as a basis for promotions, and establish a new test to be used in examining applicants for lieutenant. Count IV seeks a permanent injunction which overlaps to a large degree with the requested writ, while Count V seeks a temporary injunction. Count VI of the complaint alleges that the City breached a fiduciary duty to the Association's members. Count VII alleges that the City made fraudulent misrepresentations concerning its promotion practices. Count VIII seeks declaratory relief, specifically a ruling from the Court that the City's practices are "unjust and/or violative of [the] rights" and holding the City in contempt for violating the Shakman Association' s members' Decree.

II. Analysis

A. Legal Standard on Motion ...


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