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Magnus v. St. Mark United Methodist Church

October 19, 2010

EUNICE MAGNUS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ST. MARK UNITED METHODIST CHURCH; JON E. MCCOY, SENIOR PASTOR AND REPRESENTATIVE OF THE STAFF PARISH RELATIONS COMMITTEE OF ST. MARK UNITED METHODIST CHURCH; AND JULIAN VALENTINE, CHAIR, PERSONNEL COMMITTEE OF ST. MARK UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Harry D. Leinenweber

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated herein, the Defendants' Motion is granted in part and denied in part. Counts I, II, III, V, VI, VIII, and IX are dismissed with prejudice. Count VII is dismissed without prejudice. The Motion to Dismiss is denied on Count IV.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Procedural Background

Eunice Magnus (the "Plaintiff") filed this suit against her former employer, St. Mark United Methodist Church ("SMUMC"), and, in their individual capacities, SMUMC Senior Pastor Jon E. McCoy ("McCoy") and SMUMC Personnel Committee Chair Julian Valentine ("Valentine") (collectively, the "Defendants"). Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq. (Counts I, II, and III); Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. (Counts IV, V, and VI); and the Employment and Retirement Security Act § 510 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1140 (Counts VII, VIII, and IX).

On January 19, 2010, Plaintiff filed her initial Complaint, and Defendants entered a Motion to Dismiss on July 17, 2010. Plaintiff filed her Amended Complaint on August 13, and two weeks later Defendants filed their Reply. As noted in this Reply, Plaintiff did not file her Amended Complaint within 21 days of service of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, and did not have written consent from Defendants or the Court's leave to file the late amendment, as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2). Reply 1 n.1. However, because Defendants did not file a Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, and the content of the Amended Complaint does not differ substantially from the initial Complaint, the Court will treat the Amended Complaint as superseding the Complaint.

B. Facts

Plaintiff, a resident of Cook County, Illinois, began her employment at Chicago-based SMUMC in June 2006. On January 27, 2009, Plaintiff reported to work late. She alleges that she informed SMUMC, through McCoy, that she arrived late because her daughter had a medical emergency that required Plaintiff's attention. Plaintiff claims that her daughter has been diagnosed with "mental retardation, delusional, and attention deficit behaviors," and qualifies as a person with a disability under the ADA. Plaintiff further claims that, prior to January 27, 2009, Defendants asked her to work weekend hours. Plaintiff alleges that she "protested" such weekend hours because she needed to care for her disabled daughter. SMUMC terminated Plaintiff's employment on January 28, 2009.

Plaintiff filed a timely Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") charge, alleging that she was fired the day after her daughter's medical emergency because of her daughter's disability. Plaintiff checked a box on the EEOC Intake Questionnaire indicating that her employment discrimination claim was based on "disability." The EEOC closed its file on Plaintiff's charge on October 19, 2009, unable to conclude that the information provided by Plaintiff established statute violations.

Plaintiff requests that this Court order Defendants to cease and desist from employment discrimination, reinstate her to her position, and award her "back and front pay," benefits, damages, and fees. Defendants request that this Court dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint and Amended Complaint with prejudice and award costs.

C. Issues

Before addressing the substance of each count in the Amended Complaint, the Court must express its frustration with its sloppy drafting. For example, it includes two claims labeled "Count IV." Am. Compl. 9--11. Having navigated through the Amended Complaint, for purposes of this Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Court will refer to Plaintiff's claim "ADA Against Defendant SMUMC" as Count IV and "ADA Against Defendant Jon. E. McCoy" as Count V. As further proof of its poor drafting, the Amended Complaint includes two claims labeled "Count VII," and no "Count IX" despite it comprising nine claims. Am. Compl. 15--16. The Court will refer to "ERISA - § 510 Against Defendant SMUMC" as Count VII, "ERISA - § 510 Against Defendant Jon E. McCoy" as Count VIII, and "ERISA - § 510 Against Defendant Julian Valentine" as Count IX.

Turning to the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff claims that SMUMC violated Title VII by firing her in retaliation for her protest against working weekend hours due to the need to care for her disabled daughter (Count I). Plaintiff alleges substantively identical claims against McCoy and Valentine in their individual capacities (Counts II and III). Defendants argue that Count I is beyond the scope of Plaintiff's EEOC charge and should be dismissed with prejudice. Defendants further argue that Counts II and III, against McCoy and Valentine, should be dismissed with prejudice because Title VII does not subject individual defendants to liability.

Plaintiff claims that SMUMC violated the ADA because Defendants failed to allow for "distraction" and terminated her employment one day after she arrived late to work due to her disabled daughter's medical emergency (Count IV). Plaintiff also alleges substantively identical claims ...


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