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Perez-Garcia v. Dominick

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

March 7, 2014

LARRY DOMINICK, et al., Defendants.



Three Motions to Dismiss are pending before the Court: the motion of Defendants Tony Martinucci, Mark Kraft, Jose Rodriguez, Brian Dominick, Alex Rueda, Frank Szchech, and Mark Nowak (the "Martinucci Defendants") [ECF No. 23]; the Motion of Defendant Clyde Park District (the "District") [ECF No. 29]; and the Motion of Defendant Larry Dominick ("Dominick") (ECF No. 20). For the reasons stated herein, the Martinucci Defendants' and the District's Motions each are granted in part and denied in part. Dominick's Motion is granted in its entirety.


Plaintiff Laura Perez-Garcia ("Perez-Garcia") served as a Clyde Park District employee from 1998 to 2012. In 2000, she was assigned to the position of Administrative Assistant to the District's Executive Director. Her duties included managing credit card receipts, paying the District's credit card bills, calculating payroll, and preparing check requests.

In 2005, Anthony Martinucci ("Martinucci") was hired to replace the District's then-serving Executive Director. Around this time, Perez-Garcia began to notice that Martinucci and the District's Recreation Director, Mark Kraft ("Kraft"), were violating District policies by failing to submit receipts for charges they had made to the District's credit card account. Perez-Garcia was troubled by this because it appeared that Martinucci and Kraft were using the District's credit card for personal expenses. In addition, Perez-Garcia noticed that Kraft and one of his employees frequently submitted informal check requests without providing information as to how the funds they were drawing from the District's account were being used.

Perez-Garcia reported this conduct by sending internal memoranda to all District department heads, including Martinucci and Kraft, reminding them of the District's receipt policy. Despite her efforts, Martinucci and Kraft continued to violate District policy.

Sometime between 2007 and 2008, Perez-Garcia reported these ongoing violations to Jose Rodriguez ("Rodriguez"), the President of the District's Board of Commissioners. Although Rodriguez acknowledged Perez-Garcia's complaint and assured her that he would look into the matter, he took no action.

In April 2012, Martinucci expressed concern to Perez-Garcia about there being a "leak" in the department and directed her not to allow anyone into her office outside her presence. Around this time, a meeting was convened between Perez-Garcia, Martinucci, Kraft, and certain municipal officials to discuss tensions within the District that had arisen as a result of Martinucci's and Kraft's failure to provide credit card receipts. Following that meeting, Perez-Garcia's job responsibilities were curtailed without explanation.

Throughout the summer, Perez-Garcia continued to document and report credit card and check payment violations she witnessed. She also reported these concerns to the District's outside legal counsel.

In September 2012, Perez-Garcia was placed on indefinite administrative leave after her daughter was accused of damaging a wire to a security camera in her office. Thereafter, Perez-Garcia received a letter informing her that she was being terminated "for cause." The letter did not, however, state the reason for her termination.

On February 20, 2013, Perez-Garcia filed a four-count Complaint in this Court, seeking relief against the District and a number of its officers and employees for alleged violations of federal and state law arising out of her termination. The District, the Martinucci Defendants, and Dominick each have moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.


A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure challenges the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Chi. Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). A complaint must provide a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations that, when accepted as true, state a claim that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The Court accepts all well-pleaded facts and draws any reasonable inferences from those facts in favor of the plaintiff. Justice v. Town of Cicero, 577 F.3d 768, 771 (7th Cir. 2009).


A. The District's and the Martinucci Defendants' Motions to Dismiss

1. Count I

Count I of Perez-Garcia's complaint alleges a "class of one" equal protection claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. The District and the Martinucci Defendants move to dismiss Count I on grounds that the Supreme Court's ruling in Enquist v. Oregon Dep't of Agriculture, 553 U.S. 591 (2008), bars public employees from bringing such claims. Perez-Garcia concedes that it does and raises no objection to the dismissal of Count I. (Pl.'s Mem. in Opp. to ...

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