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Lynch v. City of Chicago

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

December 11, 2014

THOMAS LYNCH, ANTHONY KING, PAUL MARTIN, JEROME SHELTON, STEVEN BATES, PATRICK SHEPPARD, and ANTHONY VAN BUSKIRK, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendant

For Mr. Thomas Lynch, Plaintiff, Anthony King, Paul Martin, Jerome Shelton, Steven Bates, Patrick Sheppard, Anthony Van Buskirk, Plaintiffs: Daniel Q Herbert, Law Offices of Daniel Q. Herbert, Chicago, IL; John S LaMantia, LaMantia Law Associates, LaGrange, IL.

For City of Chicago, A municipal corporation and public body, Defendant: Alexandra Catherine Relias, Rachel Ann Kuchar, LEAD ATTORNEYS, City of Chicago (30 N LS), Chicago, IL; Peter A Ahmadian, LEAD ATTORNEY, City of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

For Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Theresa Mintle, Alexandra Holt, Felicia Davis, Defendants: Alexandra Catherine Relias, Rachel Ann Kuchar, LEAD ATTORNEYS, City of Chicago (30 N LS), Chicago, IL.

Page 829

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

MATTHEW F. KENNELLY, United States District Judge.

Seven former employees of the Chicago Fire Department (CFD)--Thomas Lynch, Anthony King, Paul Martin, Jerome Shelton, Steven Bates, Patrick Sheppard, and Anthony Van Buskirk--have sued the City of Chicago for violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. They allege that the City denied them an early retirement benefit that was provided to other CFD employees. The City has moved for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants the City's motion.

Background

The plaintiffs are seven retired CFD employees who held the positions of District Chief and Deputy District Chief before giving their notices to retire in November 2011. Persons holding these " exempt rank" positions are appointed by the Fire Commissioner and do not participate in the CFD's " bargaining unit," represented by the Chicago Fire Fighters Union. As such, they are exempt from the collective bargaining agreement between the Union and the City.

Both exempt rank and bargaining unit employees may retire on or after age 60 with fully-funded health care benefits. The collective bargaining agreement signed in 2007 extended this health care benefit to bargaining unit members who retire on or after age 55. Although benefits given to bargaining unit members generally had been given to exempt rank employees as well, the City declined to give the early retirement benefit to exempt rank employees. Accordingly, exempt rank employees who wanted the early retirement benefit had to demote themselves to bargaining unit positions before retiring. The plaintiffs did so in 2011 and received the early retirement benefit upon retirement in late 2012.

Following their retirement, the plaintiffs sued the City for violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and various state laws. On August 23, 2013, the Court granted the City's motion to dismiss on all counts except the plaintiffs' equal protection claim. The City then filed a motion to reconsider the Court's decision as to the equal protection claim, arguing that the plaintiffs were asserting a " class-of-one" claim that was barred under Engquist v. Oregon Department of Agriculture, 553 U.S. 591, 128 S.Ct. 2146, 170 L.Ed.2d 975 (2008). In response, the plaintiffs disclaimed any class-of-one claim. Relying on plaintiffs' representations, the Court denied the motion.

Page 830

Discovery closed on April 15, 2014. The City filed this motion for summary judgment on July 3, 2014.

Discussion

A party is entitled to summary judgment if it shows that there is no genuine issue of material fact and it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). On a motion for summary judgment, the Court views the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Srail v. Vill. of Lisle, 588 F.3d 940, 943 (7th Cir. 2009). Summary judgment is inappropriate ...


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