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Carlisi v. Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

November 8, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr.


Before the Court is a motion [16] filed by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago ("Defendant" or the "District") to dismiss Plaintiff Joseph Carlisi's complaint [1] pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is granted and Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed with prejudice.

I. Background*fn1

Plaintiff's one-count complaint alleges age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), as amended 29 U.S.C. Sec. 621, et seq.

Plaintiff began working at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District in July of 1987. ¶ 7. On or about March 8, 2007, one of Plaintiff's co-workers (Matthew McHugh) told Plaintiff's supervisor (Tom Ryan) that Plaintiff had committed a sexual battery against him in the workplace during work hours. ¶ 9. The following day, Plaintiff was suspended pending investigation of the charges. ¶ 11. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant failed to investigate the charges in a fair, unbiased, and professional manner; among other things, Plaintiff contends that Defendant failed to obtain an independent medical examination of McHugh to substantiate his claims. ¶¶ 13-15, 17.

On March 17, 2007, McHugh was granted disability on the basis of his claimed inability to return to work due to psychological damage caused him by Plaintiff. ¶ 16. McHugh eventually spent nearly five months on "duty disability," which entitled him to generous benefits over and above what an employee on "regular" disability would receive. ¶¶ 20, 27.

On April 2, 2007, McHugh filed a report with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago Police Department, alleging that Plaintiff had battered him and identifying a co-worker, Kevin Kane, as a witness to the event. ¶ 18. On April 7, the District Police Department charged Plaintiff with misdemeanor battery. ¶ 19.

Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff was placed on a 30-day suspension, effective April 25, 2007, to be followed by termination from employment effective May 25, 2007. ¶ 23. Facing suspension and certain termination, Plaintiff submitted his resignation on or about April 24, 2007, in order to avoid the complete loss of his pension. ¶ 24. Plaintiff alleges that his resignation was in fact a "constructive termination" and constituted an adverse employment action within the meaning of the ADEA. ¶ 25. At the time of his resignation, Plaintiff was 61 years old; Plaintiff had planned to work until age 65. ¶ 39. Plaintiff's duties were taken over by employees of the District who were all significantly younger than him. ¶ 26.

On October 15, 2007, Plaintiff's bench trial on the battery charges commenced in the Circuit Court of Cook County. ¶ 28. The Circuit Court found Plaintiff not guilty at the close of the presentation of the prosecution's evidence. Id. The court based its decision on a "complete lack of credibility" of the complaining witnesses. ¶ 29.

Plaintiff alleges that the District police department's charges were (1) fabricated, (2) poorly investigated, (3) tainted with the self-interest of McHugh (who was permitted to absent himself from work for nearly five months while receiving generous benefits), and (4) used to unlawfully force Plaintiff to resign from his job just weeks before he would have been entitled to an increased pension for having worked for the District for 20 years. ¶¶ 30, 33. Plaintiff alleges that the District "adopted, furthered and employed the false charges of Matthew McHugh as a means to force Plaintiff to retire before reaching twenty years service." ¶ 42. Although Plaintiff was exonerated, he claims to have suffered great physical harm, including a heart attack three months after the trial. ¶ 34.

Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on August 6, 2008. ¶ 6. The EEOC issued Plaintiff a Notice of Right to Sue on September 2, 2009. This lawsuit was filed on November 30, 2009. Id.

II. Legal Standard for Rule 12(b)(6) Motions to Dismiss

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint, not the merits of the case. See Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the complaint first must comply with Rule 8(a) by providing "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" (Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)), such that the defendant is given "fair notice of what the * * * claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Second, the factual allegations in the complaint must be sufficient to raise the possibility of relief above the "speculative level," assuming that all of the allegations in the complaint are true. E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 569 n.14). "[O]nce a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 562. The Court accepts as true all of the well-pleaded facts alleged by the plaintiff and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom. See Barnes v. Briley, 420 F.3d 673, 677 (7th Cir. 2005). However, "if the plaintiff chooses to provide additional facts, beyond the short and plain statement requirement, the plaintiff cannot prevent the defense from ...

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