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Yates v. John Marshall Law School

May 11, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Marvin E. Aspen U.S. District Court Judge

Hon. Marvin E. Aspen


MARVIN E. ASPEN, District Judge

On November 5, 2008, Plaintiff Francine Yates filed a multi-count Amended Complaint against the John Marshall Law School ("JMLS"), the Chicago Transit Authority ("CTA"), the City of Chicago ("the City"), and the State of Illinois ("the State").*fn1 Yates alleges that JMLS violated various civil rights statutes and Illinois law by denying her admission into law school. Presently before us is JMLS's motion to dismiss, which we grant for the reasons discussed below.*fn2


According to the Amended Complaint, Yates applied for admission to JMLS for the January 2008 and August 2008 semesters. (Am. Compl. ¶ 25.) She indicated on both applications that she was homeless. (Id. ¶ 28.) JMLS ignored her first application because she failed to pay the application fee. (Id.) On May 5, 2008, JMLS informed Yates by letter that her second application had been rejected. (Id. ¶ 30.) Thereafter, on or about May 12, 2008, Yates went to speak with William Powers, Dean of JMLS. (Id. ¶¶ 30, 40, 88.) At that time, she complained to Powers about "the continued harassment, retaliation and coercion that she was being subjected to by Ronald Huberman and Mayor Richard Daley to fraudulently embezzle money from CTA's claim fund."*fn3 (Id. ¶ 31; see also id. ¶ 88.) Among other things, she also informed Powers of her Christian faith and homelessness, as well as her mental disabilities. (Id. ¶¶ 32, 129.) Indeed, in 2003, Yates was diagnosed with "major depression, anxiety and high blood pressure." (Id. ¶ 38; see also id. ¶ 137.) After hearing Yates's complaints and disclosures, Powers agreed to review her file and "let her know of the board's decision by Friday, May 23, 2008." (Id. ¶ 34.) He emailed Yates on May 30, 2008, again reporting that she had been denied admission. (Id. ¶ 35.) At some point, Powers informed Yates that her application was rejected because her LSAT score was too low. (Id. ¶ 49.)

Yates met again with Powers in June 2008 and told him that she was falsely arrested on May 26, 2008 for battery. (Id. ¶¶ 33, 108, 134.) On one occasion, on June 5, 2008, Yates attempted to meet with Powers but was told that he was unavailable to meet with her, although he appeared to be "surfing the web." (Id. ¶ 143.) Although she scheduled an appointment with Powers on June 10, 2008, that appointment was cancelled by email dated June 6, 2008, wherein Powers informed Yates that "he had attempted to answer all of her questions via email and did not feel that he had anything more to impart." (Id. ¶ 145.) On June 9, 2008, JMLS informed Yates that it would not refund her application fee, which she had borrowed from a church, or return her admissions paperwork. (Id. ¶¶ 117, 146, 149, 153.)

Yates alleges that JMLS lied to her about its admissions paperwork retention policy. (Id. ¶¶ 118.) Yates called the United States Attorneys' office on June 13, 2008 to complain about the conduct of JMLS, the CTA, the City and the State. (Id. ¶ 119.) According to the Amended Complaint, JMLS "must have received a phone call from the [FBI]" because on June 16, 2008, Yates received an email stating that she could pick up her applications materials from JMLS. (Id.) She did so on June 20, 2008 but alleges that she "was harassed by being made to stop by the security desk upon retrieving the documents." (Id. ¶¶ 147-48.) She further alleges that she was harassed off of JMLS property. (Id. ¶¶ 146, 156.) Yates contends that "the underlying reasoning for [JMLS's] retaliation is . . . that [JMLS] was trying to cover up unexposed wrong doing, their political connections and affiliations with Mayor Richard Daley's administration and the fact that individuals associated with the law school have knowledge or have been an accomplice in the act of embezzlement."*fn4 (Id. ¶ 101; see also id. ¶¶ 115-16.)

Based on the above, Yates asserts the following claims: (1) disability discrimination; (2) intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED") and negligent infliction of emotional and mental distress ("NIED"); (3) aiding, abetting and obstruction of justice; (4) fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, and perjury; (5) civil rights violations based on her status as a "[s]ingle, [b]lack, African-American, [h]omeless, Christian female" (id. at 27); and (6) "retaliation for whistle blowing and being homeless" (id. at 2, 40). Yates requests various remedies, including compensatory and punitive damages. (Id. at 2-3.) She asks, inter alia, that we discipline and disbar her harassers.*fn5 (Id. at 3.) She also requests that JMLS admit her, provide her with JD and LLM degrees, and pay the full cost of her tuition, living expenses, law books and all bar fees. (Id. at 17-18.)


When considering a motion to dismiss, the court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations in the claim as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Killingsworth v. HSBC Bank, 507 F.3d 614, 618 (7th Cir. 2007) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007)). A court may grant a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) only if the complaint lacks "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 618-619; E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776-77 (7th Cir. 2007) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. at 1974). In order to survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the plaintiff's "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. at 1965. A sufficient complaint does not have to provide "detailed factual allegations," but it must provide more than "labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Id. at 555, 127 S.Ct. at 1964-65; Killingsworth, 507 F.3d at 618-19; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). These requirements ensure that the defendant receives "fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. at 1964 (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 102 (1957)); Killingsworth, 507 F.3d at 618-19.

A pro se complaint, as we have here, is to be construed liberally and held to less stringent standards. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, --- ,127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007). Nonetheless, courts "are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286, 106 S.Ct. 2932, 2944 (1986); see also Twombly, 550 U.S. 555, 127 S.Ct. at 1965.


A. Yates's Attempts to Re-Allege Claims Previously Dismissed

We first address the sufficiency of several claims, dismissed in our earlier opinion, that Yates has ...

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