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Clay v. City of Chicago

June 30, 2010

MARY CLAY, EARNESTINE RUSSELL, MARIAN HOOVER, NONA SMITH, AND NANCE L. DULAJ, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHER 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 Mary Clay, Earnestine Russell, Marian Hoover, Nona Smith, and Nance L. Dulaj ("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 their complaint. The City moves for summary judgment of non-liability 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 the City. Each was a member of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31 ("the Union"). Their terms of employment were set forth in a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") between the City and the Union. The CBA was in effect from July 1999 until June 2003 and ultimately expired on June 30, 2003, when the City and the Union were unable to craft a replacement agreement. On the expiration date, attorneys for the City and for the Union agreed to extend the terms of the 1999-2003 agreements through midnight, July 30. The arrangement was memorialized in a letter dated June 30, 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 retired under this program in 2004. Meanwhile, the City and the Union continued their negotiations.

On June 7, 2005, the City and the Union reached a tentative agreement. In part, it provided for retroactive wage increases for work performed between July 1, 2003, and July 18, 2005, for employees who were on the City payroll as of July 18, 2005, which included employees who had been laid off with recall rights. In addition, the parties agreed that employees who retired between June 1, 2005, and July 18, 2005, would be eligible for retroactive wage payments. In late July 2005, the City Council ratified the new CBA and it took effect.

Because Plaintiffs were not in any of the specified categories of employees, they did not receive retroactive wage increases. In July 2007, they 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 retroactive 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 September 24, 2008, this court certified a class consisting of all City employees who 1) left their job with the City 2) in either 2003 or 2004 3) via the ERIP who 4) belonged to the bargaining unit represented by the Union when they left their City job but 5) did not designate the Union as their representative subsequent to their retirement. 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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