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Medicone Medical Response v. the Marion County Emergency Telephone

September 13, 2012

MEDICONE MEDICAL RESPONSE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE MARION COUNTY EMERGENCY TELEPHONE SYSTEM BOARD,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

Now before the Court is defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint (Doc. 8) pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Plaintiff opposes the motion by contending that it has made sufficient factual allegations to survive dismissal. For the following reasons, defendant's motion to dismiss is GRANTED in its entirety.

Plaintiff, who owns and operates an emergency and non-emergency ambulance service in Marion County, Illinois, alleges defendant violated its equal protection rights when defendant refused to include plaintiff as a participating ambulance service in defendant's 9-1-1 emergency telephone system (Doc. 2). Since August of 2010, plaintiff claims it has requested that defendant include plaintiff as a participant in order for plaintiff to receive calls for emergency ambulance service. Defendant has continuously refused to do so, which plaintiff contends has led to its loss of income. Plaintiff alleges defendant has irrationally singled plaintiff out for unfair treatment, as plaintiff is the only licensed, private ambulance service in Marion County that cannot participate in defendant's system. This, plaintiff claims, is a violation of its Fourteenth Amendment equal protection right. Plaintiff and defendant agree that this claim is premised on a class-of-one theory.

Plaintiff further alleges that defendant's conduct constitutes the tort of interference with prospective economic advantage (Doc. 2 p. 4) and that defendant's policy, pursuant to which the decision to exclude plaintiff was made, is void as defendant did not have authority to implement it (Doc. 2 p. 8).

Plaintiff filed its first complaint on December 7, 2011 (Doc. 2). Defendant filed its motion to dismiss (Doc. 8) and memorandum in support (Doc. 9) on February 6, 2012, arguing that plaintiff's claims require dismissal since they fail to state causes of action. Plaintiff filed a response to defendant's motion to dismiss (Doc. 15) on March 12, 2012, rebutting defendant's arguments, and defendant filed its reply (Doc. 17) on March 23, 2012.

II. LAW AND APPLICATION

A. PLEADING STANDARD

A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Gen Elec. Capital Corp. v. Lease Resolution Corp., 128 F.3d 1074, 1080 (7th Cir. 1997). The Supreme Court has established that, in addition to providing notice, a complaint must "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," and factual allegations within a complaint must "be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570, 127 S. Ct. 1955 (2007). Further, mere conclusory statements and recital of the elements of a cause of action are insufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S. Ct. 1937 (2009).

B. EQUAL PROTECTION CLAIM

The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment provides that "no State shall... deny to any persons within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1. Although the Equal Protection Clause is traditionally understood as protecting members of vulnerable groups from unequal treatment attributable to the state, it also proscribes state action that irrationally singles out and targets an individual for discriminatory treatment as a so-called "class of one." LaBella Winnetka, Inc. v. Vill. of Winnetka, 628 F.3d 937, 941 (7th Cir. 2010).

A plaintiff states a class-of-one equal protection claim by alleging that she has been intentionally treated differently from others similarly situated with no rational basis for the difference in treatment. Id. at 942 (citing Vill. of Willowbrook v. Olech, 528 U.S. 562, 564, 120 S. Ct. 1073 (2000)).

1. Application

Plaintiff alleges its exclusion from defendant's 9-1-1 system while other similarly situated private ambulance services are included in the system "is irrational, and is motivated by purposes which include personal animus and a desire to protect the profitability of ...


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