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Life Ctr., Inc. v. City of Elgin, Illinois

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

August 8, 2013

THE LIFE CENTER, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF ELGIN, ILLINOIS, Defendant

Page 864

For The Life Center, Inc., an Illinois not-for-profit corporation, operating as TLC Pregnancy Services, and on behalf of those woman who seek and may seek and may seek its reporductivie healthcare services and their unborn children, Plaintiff: John W. Mauck, LEAD ATTORNEY, Andy Robert Norman, Mauck & Baker, Chicago, IL; M. casey Mattox, PRO HAC VICE, Alliance Defending Freedom, Washington, DC; Noel W. Sterett, Mauck & Baker LLC, Chicago, IL.

For City of Elgin, Illinois, Defendant: Victor P. Filippini, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, Holland & Knight LLC, Chicago, IL; Simon B. Auerbach, Holland and Knight, LLP, Chicago, IL.

Page 865

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Samuel Der-Yeghiayan, United States District Court Judge.

This matter is before the court on Defendant City of Elgin's (City) motion to dismiss, and Plaintiff The Life Center, Inc.'s (Life Center) motion for summary judgment on Count I. For the reasons stated below, the City's motion to dismiss is denied and Life Center's motion for summary judgment is granted.

BACKGROUND

Life Center contends that it operates TLC Pregnancy Services (TLC), a religious-based organization that provides pregnant women with spiritual support, free reproductive healthcare information, and limited ultrasound services. In September 2010, TLC allegedly began providing services from a mobile facility in a recreational vehicle (Mobile Facility) that TLC parked in a couple of commercial lots located in the City with the permission of the owners of such parking lots. Life Center contends that " TLC's volunteers aboard the [M]obile [F]acility provide a message of hope by sharing the truth of God's love for them and the life they can find in and through Jesus Christ." (Compl. Par. 13). Life Center contends that the Mobile Facility provides religious literature to pregnant women and certain prenatal services, such as ultrasound services. According to Life Center, TLC's patients consist mainly of young women without financial and emotional support. Life Center contends that unlike the services at a permanent facility, the Mobile Facility's services are particularly visible and accessible to women, and that the Mobile Facility provides a level of anonymity to women who may be unable or unwilling to go to a permanent facility. Life Center explains that the ultrasound services provide pregnant women with information that could identify health issues and potentially save the lives of their unborn children.

According to Life Center, the City consistently approved temporary use permits for TLC to operate in parking lots in the City until August 7, 2012, when a City employee allegedly approached the Mobile Facility and told TLC to cease operations. The City allegedly informed TLC that, based on a recent amendment to the Elgin Municipal Code (Code) relating to temporary uses (Temporary Use Provision), TLC could obtain permits for the Mobile Facility under the Temporary Use Provision only for a limited number of days each year. There are also some allegations in the complaint that the enforcement against Life Center was triggered at the " behest" of a City councilperson. (Compl. Par. 25-26). The City also allegedly informed TLC that it had already used its permitted time for 2012.

Life Center includes in the complaint a facial challenge to the Temporary Use Provision contending that it is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad (Count I); an as-applied challenge to the Temporary Use Provision contending that it violates a woman's right to acquire useful knowledge and care for her unborn child (Count II); an as-applied challenge to the Temporary Use Provision contending that it violates an unborn child's fundamental right to begin life with a sound mind and body (Count III); an as-applied challenge to the Temporary Use Provision contending that it interferes with Life Center's rights under the Free Access to Clinic Entrances Act, 18 U.S.C. § 248 (Count IV); a facial and as-applied challenge to the Temporary Use Provision contending that it violates Life

Page 866

Center's federal constitutional rights to free speech (Count V); an as-applied challenge to the Temporary Use Provision contending that it violates Life Center's state constitutional rights to free speech (Count VI); an as-applied challenge to the Temporary Use Provision contending that it violates Life Center's federal constitutional rights to the free exercise of religion (Count VII); an as-applied challenge to the Temporary Use Provision contending that it violates Life Center's state constitutional rights to the free exercise of religion (Count VIII); an as-allied challenge to the Temporary Use Provision contending that it violates the unreasonable limitation provision of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc et seq. (Count IX); an as-applied challenge to the Temporary Use Provision contending that it violates the substantial aburden provision of RLUIPA (Count X); an as-applied challenge to the Temporary Use Provision contending that it violates the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 775 ILCS 35/1 et seq. (Count XI); and an as-applied challenge to the Temporary Use Provision contending that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (Count XII). On March 13, 2013, the court entered a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the City and since the expiration of the TRO, the parties have agreed to maintain the status quo. Life Center now moves for partial summary judgment on Count I. The City moves to dismiss all claims.

LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) (Rule 12(b)(1)) requires a court to dismiss an action when it lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1); see also Ezekiel v. Michel, 66 F.3d 894, 897 (7th Cir. 1995)(stating that when reviewing a motion to dismiss brought under Rule 12(b)(1), the court " must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations, and draw reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff" ). When subject matter jurisdiction is not apparent on the face of the complaint and is contested, " 'the district court may properly look beyond the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint . . . to determine whether in fact subject matter jurisdiction exists." Sapperstein v. Hager, 188 F.3d 852, 855-56 (7th Cir. 1999)(internal quotations omitted)(quoting United Transportation Union v. Gateway Western Railway Co., 78 F.3d 1208, 1210 (7th Cir. 1996)). The burden of proof in regards to a Rule 12(b)(1) motion is on the party asserting that the court has subject matter jurisdiction. Id.

Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, reveals that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Smith v. Hope School, 560 F.3d 694, 699 (7th Cir. 2009). A " genuine issue" of material fact in the context of a motion for summary judgment is not simply a " metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists when " the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Insolia v. Philip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the ...


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