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Tobias v. Village of Villa Park

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

July 30, 2014

WILLIAM TOBIAS, Plaintiff,
v.
VILLAGE OF VILLA PARK, ILLINOIS, a Municipal Corporation, RICARD KEEHNER, JR., individually and in his official capacity; Police Chief ROBERT PAVELCHIK, JR., Deputy Chief of Police ROBERT BUDIG, ROBERT TAGLIA, individually and in his Official capacity as a Village Trustee, and JOHN DAVIS, individually and in his official capacity as Village Trustee, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

SHARON JOHNSON COLEMAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff William Tobias ("Tobias") filed a complaint against Defendant Village of Villa Park, Illinois, Richard Keehner, Robert Pavelchik Jr., Robert Budig, Robert Taglia, and John Davis (collectively "defendants"). Tobias alleges three counts: 1) violation of Plaintiff's due process rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C ยง1983; 2) intentional infliction of emotional distress; and 3) tortious interference with a business relationship. Defendants move to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants defendants' motion to dismiss.

Background

The Board of Fire and Police Commissioners hired Plaintiff William Tobias, a married resident of Elmhurst, Illinois, as a full-time police officer on June 23, 2011. Tobias was hired as a lateral by then Police Chief, John Heidelmeier. The Village of Villa Park, Illinois ("the Village") is a municipal corporation organized under the laws of the State of Illinois, and Section 19-103(a) of the Municipal Code of the Village mandates a two-year probationary period for all newly hired police officers. Tobias served as a part-time police officer for the Village from September 1, 2010 to June of 2011.

Tobias asserts that while serving as a full-time police officer, he met or exceeded performance expectations for the Village and did not engage in, was not charged with, and was not accused of any misconduct during his employment. On February 28, 2012, Tobias was terminated from his employment. At the time of his termination, Tobias was at his wife's side in the hospital while she was giving birth to their child. Robert Budig, the serving Deputy Chief of Police, called Tobias and told him to report to the Police Department. Tobias alleges Budig was fully aware he was in the hospital with his wife who was in active labor at the time of his call. Upon reporting to the department, Police Chief Robert Pavelchick, notified Tobias he was discharged from his employment. At the time of Tobias' discharge, Robert Tagilia and John Davis served as Trustees for the Village and Richard Keener served as the Village Manager.

Tobias alleges that during his employment, defendants Taglia, Davis, Budig, and Keehner made false and malicious statements about his character. More specifically, Tobias alleges the rumors defendants spread were that former Police Chief Heidelemeir hired a lateral who was previously fired as a police officer from the Village of Oak Brook, and that the same officer also stalked an Oak Brook Village Trustee and vandalized her home. Because Tobias was the only full-time Village police officer whom formerly worked as an Oak Brook police officer and was hired as a lateral by Heidelmeier, he asserts these statements refer to him. Additionally, Tobias alleges defendants said he was "no good" and that he should not remain on the force. Tobias further alleges that these statements were made in order to ensure that he was discharged from his employment, to inflict emotional distress, and to significantly diminish his future employment opportunities.

At the time of his termination, Tobias claims to have received no reason for his discharge. Tobias asserts that he has not been able to find employment as a police officer since his termination despite applying for many positions and being a qualified candidate.

Section 19-103 of the Municipal Code of the Village provides the procedure for terminating a probationary police officer. It states:

(c) The review and determination of successful completion of the probationary period shall be determined by the board of fire and police commissioners pursuant to its rules and regulations.
(d) If the board of fire and police commissioners determines that the police department recruit has not successfully performed his/her probationary period, the recruit's period of employment shall be terminated.

Despite the Municipal Code stating that the probationary period shall be determined by the Board of Fire and Police commissioners, Tobias alleges that instead the routine practice by the Village and its officials is to terminate a probationary police officer without first notifying the Board, as required by Village ordinance.

Legal Standard

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); General Elec. Capital Corp. v. Lease Resolution Corp., 128 F.3d 1074, 1080 (7th Cir. 1997). In ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts in the plaintiff's complaint and draws all reasonable inferences from those facts in the plaintiff's favor. Dixon v. Page, 291 F.3d 485, 486 (7th Cir. 2002). In order to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint must provide the defendant with fair notice of the claim's basis, and also state facts which establish that the requested relief is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 ...


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