Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Foster v. Deluca

September 28, 2009

STACIE FOSTER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ANTHONY DELUCA; CITY OF CHICAGO HEIGHTS; AND DAN PROFT, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James B. Zagel United States District Judge

Judge James B. Zagel

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. Background

On May 16, 2003, approximately one month after Defendant Mayor Anthony DeLuca ("DeLuca"), a Republican, became mayor of the City of Chicago Heights and within a few weeks of service as mayor, Plaintiff Stacie Foster ("Stacie"), a Democrat, was terminated from her job as health insurance coordinator. As a result, on August 6, 2004, Stacie filed suit against Defendants DeLuca, Dan Proft ("Proft"), DeLuca's chief of staff, and the City of Chicago Heights ("City") for violation of her right to freedom of association, Count I, and for retaliation under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. §1983, Count II.*fn1 Stacie was the first of five plaintiffs and former City employees to allege that DeLuca and Proft terminated them unlawfully.*fn2 Defendants now move to dismiss Plaintiff's amended complaint for failure to state a claim and to strike Plaintiff's claim for punitive damages.*fn3 For the following reasons, Defendants' motion to dismiss is granted.

II. Statement of Relevant Facts

Stacie began working for the City in 1997. Since 2000, she worked as the City's health insurance coordinator for then Mayor Angelo Ciambrone. Her job included managing the City's health insurance program, organizing a filing system, and resolving problems between insurance companies and employees. Ciambrone served as Mayor from 1995 through April of 2003. When Ciambrone decided not to run for re-election, Stacie worked on the mayoral campaign of Paulnita Ress, previously Ciambrone's administrative assistant, in 2002 and 2003.

On May 16, 2003, approximately one month after DeLuca was elected mayor and within a few weeks of serving as mayor, Proft terminated Stacie's employment, which she believes DeLuca asked him to do because DeLuca, as mayor, had final policymaking authority. Stacie alleges Proft told her that her job was being eliminated because of a new federal law relating to health information of employees. Stacie believes this was not a valid basis for her firing based on information Stacie received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services because, according to Stacie, her job did not violate the federal privacy rule. When Stacie asked Proft if she could be transferred to another position, her request was denied. Approximately one week after Stacie's termination, Lisa Pelegrino began working for the City, assuming several of Stacie's former duties, including communicating with representatives of Long Claims Services, the City's third party administrator, regarding insurance claims.

Stacie believes that the real reason she was fired was because of her support for a Democratic mayor and mayoral candidate. She believes that DeLuca had an "evil intent to violate her constitutional right to freedom of association." Her claim is based on the following:

(1) on May 7, 2003, Doug Foster ("Doug"), Stacie's husband and a previous City employee until that date, met with DeLuca and Proft; (2) Proft and DeLuca told Doug that the administration was looking to head in a new direction and wanted its people "in here" and Doug to leave his job; and (3) DeLuca and Proft each stated at the meeting that the Republican organization wanted DeLuca's administration to "chop off heads and hold them up for trophies." Furthermore, Stacie alleges that it was a policy and custom of the City to deny employees their constitutional right to freedom of association based on the firing of other employees believed to support Democratic candidates.

Stacie asserts that the two named Defendants are each personally liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 because they either participated in the decision to terminate her or the decision occurred with their knowledge and consent. She further alleges retaliation under Title VII and § 1983 based on Defendants' decision to terminate her within few weeks of taking office because she supported their opponents in the election. As a result, Stacie alleges she lost substantial earnings, other job-related benefits, and suffered emotional distress. She seeks compensatory, pecuniary, and punitive damages.

Another Judge of this Court dismissed the complaint. Plaintiff appealed in 2008 to the Seventh Circuit, which reversed not on the merits but based solely on the district court's failure to explain its decision to deny Plaintiff's motion to file an amended complaint. Leave was granted and now this is Plaintiff's third attempt to plead a viable complaint. Defendants now move to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

III. Standard of Review

A motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. In ruling on such a motion, I accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences from those facts in Plaintiff's favor. Dixon v. Page, 291 F.3d 485, 486 (7th Cir. 2002). To state a claim, the complaint need only contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). However, "the pleading standard . . . demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Plaintiff must do more than plead facts that are consistent with Defendants' liability because that only shows the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.