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Grayer v. Welch

September 14, 2010

MARY ANNE GRAYER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MAYOR DWIGHT WELCH, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS MAYOR AND PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR OF THE CITY OF COUNTRY CLUB HILLS, HENRIETTA TURNER, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS CITY MANAGER, DEBORAH MCILVAIN, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS CITY CLERK, WILLIAM A. BROWN, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS (FORMER) CAPACITY AS POLICE CHIEF, THERESE O'DONNELL, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HER (FORMER) OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF, GREGORY A. SMITH, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS FORMER CAPACITY AS SERGEANT, THE COUNTRY CLUB HILLS POLICE DEPARTMENT, THE CITY OF COUNTRY CLUB HILLS, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, OTHER UNKNOWN CITY OFFICIALS, EMPLOYEES, AGENTS OR INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS THEREOF, MEREDITH PATE, IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS AN AGENT OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL RISK MANAGEMENT AGENCY, CITY OF COUNTRY CLUB HILLS AND ITS OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rebecca R. Pallmeyer United States District Judge

Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On June 29, 2009, Plaintiff Mary Anne Grayer ("Plaintiff") filed this pro se law suit against her former employer, the City of Country Club Hills Police Department and several other Defendants: the City of Country Club Hills; Mayor and Public Safety Director Dwight Welch, City Manager Henrietta Turner, City Clerk Deborah McIlvain, former Police Chief William A. Brown, former Deputy Chief Therese O'Donnell, and former Sergeant Gregory A. Smith (all officers of the City of Country Club Hills) in their individual and official capacities; and Meredith Pate and the Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency ("IRMA") (collectively "Defendants"). In her lawsuit, brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Ms. Grayer claims she was harassed by Defendants and ultimately terminated from her position as police lieutenant in violation of her First, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. All Defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint, invoking FED. R. CIV. P 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motions to dismiss are granted and Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed without prejudice.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The following facts are drawn from Plaintiff's complaint and accepted as true for the purposes of these motions. Plaintiff had a twenty-plus year career as a sergeant with the City of Chicago Police Department. On October 18, 2004, she began working for the City of Country Club Hills Police Department as a police lieutenant. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 5--6.) She was initially named Division Head of the Communications and Records Division, while also working on two narcotics investigations. (Id. at ¶¶ 6--9.) During the course of one of these investigations, Plaintiff "began to experience problems" with Defendant Smith. Specifically, she alleges that Smith "had exceeded his authority on several occasions and had also been found to have submitted some false or misleading reports." (Id. at ¶ 10.) She claims she notified Defendant Brown, who at the time was Police Chief, and Defendant O'Donnell, the Deputy Police Chief, about her problems with Smith, but they took no action to address the issue. (Id.) Instead, by late August 2006, Brown and O'Donnell allegedly began to harass her themselves.*fn1 (Id. at ¶ 16.) Plaintiff alleges that on September 6, 2006, Defendant Smith "went into a tirade" at her office door after he was informed (Plaintiff does not say by whom) about his "inappropriate handling" of a criminal case. (Id. at ¶ 17.) Smith allegedly "ranted and raved for several minutes in a threatening and intimidating manner while blocking the door of Plaintiff's office" and refused to leave. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that she requested the presence of Defendants Brown or O'Donnell before speaking with Smith-suggesting the meeting was scheduled in advance-but they refused to attend the meeting. (Id. at ¶ 18.)

Defendant O'Donnell, however, was in fact allegedly present during some portion of the Smith incident, but did not intervene. (Id.)

During the Fall of 2006, Plaintiff met with an attorney and also contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") regarding the circumstances at the Police Department (though she has not specifically so alleged, the court presumes Plaintiff believed the circumstances reflected discrimination). On October 27, 2006 Plaintiff was reassigned to the position of Administrative Lieutenant.*fn2 Throughout the several months preceding her eventual termination, Plaintiff alleges that she was continually harassed (she does not state by whom). (Id. at ¶ 20.)

In March 2007, Plaintiff learned of a civil suit filed by a former police detective and was asked to assist in the discovery process in the case. Plaintiff was away from work on medical leave from March 12 through May 6, 2007. During this period, Plaintiff alleges, she learned that Defendants Brown and Smith had made false statements in connection with the case, and she therefore requested and retained independent counsel through Defendant IRMA.*fn3 (Id. at ¶¶ 21--24.) On May 24, 2007, Plaintiff learned from other employees of the Department that her termination was imminent. In response to this news, she took elective time off and did not return to work until May 28, 2007. (Id. at ¶¶ 26--28.) On May 29, 2007, Plaintiff met with Defendants Brown and O'Donnell. At that meeting, she alleges, Defendant Brown questioned her in a "very threatening and hostile manner" about her reasons for seeking separate legal counsel in the pending civil case against the Department. (Id. at ¶ 28.) Plaintiff alleges that the meeting ended when Defendant Brown "threw the door open and ordered [her] from his office." (Am. Compl. ¶ 28.) The following day, Plaintiff contacted the Mayor, Defendant Welch, as well as the City Manager, Defendant Turner, to inform them of the incident with Defendant Brown and request a meeting. (Id. at ¶ 30.) Plaintiff alleges that neither Welch nor Turner agreed to meet with her. (Id.)

During June 2007, Plaintiff claims, she made several attempts to obtain copies of various city ordinances, "specifically those pertaining to the Police Department and Peronnel regulations," from the City Clerk, Defendant McIlvain. (Id. at ¶ 33.) She forwarded copies of her memo about the matter to Defendants Brown, Turner, and Welch. None of the Defendants provided her with copies. (Id.) On June 22, 2007, Defendant Brown reprimanded Plaintiff for having requested updated ordinances from Defendant McIlvain without having first consulted him. (Id. at ¶ 34.) Later that day, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the EEOC and the Illinois Attorney General's Office.*fn4

(Id. at ¶ 35.)

Finally, on June 26, 2007, Plaintiff met with Defendant Welch for what she believed was an interview regarding her eligibility for promotion. (Id. at ¶ 36.) At the meeting, Welch announced that as the result of an ordinance adopted the previous day, giving Mayor Welch "complete control" over the appointment of police lieutenants, all at-will employee-lieutenants were required to resign their positions immediately. (Id. at ¶ 37.) Welch allegedly announced that "if Plaintiff did not submit a resignation he was going to 'let her go.'" (Id. at ¶ 38.) Plaintiff alleges that until the amendment was adopted by the City Council on June 25, police lieutenants served "at the pleasure of the Police Chief," but were removed only for cause and were entitled to a hearing before the Mayor and City Council on request. (Id. at ¶ 37.)

On June 28, 2007, Plaintiff informed Defendant Brown that she refused to resign and that she had filed an EEOC complaint. (Id. at ¶ 40.) Later the same day, Plaintiff received a letter from Defendant Welch terminating her employment with the Department, effectively immediately. (Id. at ¶ 42.) Plaintiff claims that she was escorted to her office by Defendant O'Donnell to pack up her belongings, but was not allowed to finishing packing because Defendant Brown "indicated he would 'go through it' and [that she should] pack it later." (Id.) Plaintiff describes Defendant Brown's demeanor as "angry and intimidating." (Id. at ¶ 43.) Plaintiff alleges that she was not allowed to return to finish packing the belongings in her office until July 2, 2007. (Id. at ¶ 44.) Plaintiff filed this complaint on June 29, 2009 seeking compensatory and punitive damages from all named Defendants.

DISCUSSION

Defendants have moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint, pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. When considering a motion to dismiss, the court accepts all allegations in the complaint as true and draws all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Michalowicz v. Village of Bedford Park, 528 F.3d 530, 534 (7th Cir. 2008). A complaint will survive a motion to dismiss even without "detailed factual allegations" as long as it provides allegations that "raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . ." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Dismissal is appropriate when there exists no set of facts supporting the claim that would ...


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