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Johnson v. Waukegan Sch. Dist. No. 60

May 25, 2011


Name of Assigned Judge Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge Ronald A. Guzman than Assigned Judge



The Court grants in part and denies in part defendants Judy Lafferty, "Cheryl the Substitute Caller" (who is Cheryl Laffredi) and Waukegan School District No. 60's motion to dismiss [42]. The Court grants the motion and dismisses:

(1) Lafferty and Laffredi as defendants with regard to the ADA claim; (2) the Title VII claim in its entirety without prejudice; (3) the § 1983 claim to the extent that it is based on violations of the ADA with prejudice; (4) the §§ 1981 and 1983 claims against Waukegan School District No. 60 without prejudice; (5) the defamation claim without prejudice. The Court denies the motion as to: (1) the ADA claims; and (2) the §§ 1981 and 1983 claims against Lafferty and Laffredi.

O[ For further details see text below.] Docketing to mail notices.

*Copy to judge/magistrate judge.


When ruling on a motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must "tak[e] the factual allegations pleaded by the plaintiffs as true and draw[ ] all reasonable inferences in their favor." London v. RBS Citizens, N.A., 600 F.3d 742, 745 (7th Cir. 2010). "The purpose of a motion to dismiss is to test the sufficiency of the complaint, not to decide the merits." Gibson v. Chi., 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990) (quotation omitted). A plaintiff's complaint must provide "only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" in order to give the defendant "fair notice" of the plaintiff's claims and the basis for those claims. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is required if the complaint fails to describe a claim that is "plausible on its face." Id. at 570. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") Claims

A. To the extent that defendants argue that Lafferty and Laffredi should be dismissed as defendants with regard to Johnson's ADA claims, the Court grants the motion because individuals may not be held liable under the ADA. See EEOC v. AIC Sec. Investigations, Ltd., 55 F.3d 1276, 1279 (7th Cir. 1995); 42 U.S.C. § 12112 et seq. Lafferty and "Cheryl" are hereby dismissed with regard to Johnson's ADA claims.

B. Johnson has attempted to recast her ADA claim as an equal protection claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (possibly in an effort to create individual liability with regard to Lafferty and Laffredi). The Seventh Circuit, however, has stated that other statutes may bar a § 1983 claim when the § 1983 claim is based directly on a statutory violation. See Discovery House, Inc. v. Consol. City of Indianapolis, 319 F.3d 277, 281 (7th Cir. 2003); see, e.g., Torrence v. Advanced Home Care, Inc., No. 08 C 2821, 2009 WL 1444448, at *7 (N.D. Ill. May 21, 2009) ("[A] number of district courts in this circuit have held that Section 1983 claims may not rest on the ADA or the Rehabilitation Act."); Silk v. City of Chi., No. 95 C 143, 1996 WL 312074, at *19 (N.D. Ill. June 7, 1996) ("[T]he comprehensive enforcement schemes adopted by Congress in the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 preclude Silk from seeking to enforce a violation of either statute through 42 U.S.C. section 1983."). Johnson clearly alleges that her equal protection claim is based on the ADA (Second Am. Compl. p. 5 ¶ 7.2.) Because plaintiff bases her § 1983 claim, in part, on violations of the ADA, she is precluded from seeking to enforce those violations through § 1983. Thus, to the extent that plaintiff bases her § 1983 claim solely on a violation of the ADA, the Court dismisses it with prejudice.

C. Although defendants argue that Johnson's ADA retaliation claim is untimely, the Court denies the motion to dismiss without prejudice on this ground. On a motion to dismiss, it would be improper to require Johnson to anticipate and plead around the statute of limitations affirmative defense. Leavell v. Kieffer, 189 F.3d 492, 494 (7th Cir. 1999) ("Complaints need not anticipate or plead around affirmative defenses, . . . so there is no problem under Rule 12(b)(6)."). Further, Johnson has not pleaded herself out of court by asserting that the equitable tolling or estoppel doctrines do not apply to her ADA claim (or her Title VII, § 1981, § 1983 or defamation claims, for that matter). In fact, she alleges she was not notified of the letters placed in her personnel file which raises potential tolling/estoppel issues. Defendants may raise the statute of limitations issue on summary judgment, but given the pleadings, it would be improper to dismiss her ADA retaliation claim now.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") Claims

A. Johnson's Title VII claim is barred in its entirety. Title VII "claims brought in judicial proceedings must be within the scope of the charges filed with the EEOC." Conner v. Ill. Dep't of Natural Res., 413 F.3d 675, 680 (7th Cir. 2005); see 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. This rule serves two purposes: (1) it allows the EEOC a chance to resolve the dispute, and (2) it puts the employer on notice for the charges against it. Peters v. Renaissance Hotel Operating Co., 307 F.3d 535, 550 (7th Cir. 2002). To determine whether a claim is within the scope of an EEOC charge, a court must ask whether the claim is "like or reasonably related to" the EEOC charge and "whether the current claim reasonably could have developed from the EEOC's investigation of the charges before it." Cheek v. Peabody Coal Co., 97 F.3d 200, 202 (7th Cir. 1996). When a complaint raises a different theory of discrimination than was raised in the EEOC charge, a ...

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