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Young v. Dart

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

May 20, 2015

TONIA YOUNG, Plaintiff,


JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge.

Plaintiff Tonia Young, proceeding pro se, has filed a five-count Complaint against Defendants Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and Cook County (collectively, "the County Defendants") and Defendant Teamsters Local Union 700 ("Local 700"). The County Defendants and Local 700 have moved, separately, to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated below, Defendants' Motions [15, 22] are granted. Plaintiff's Motion to "Leave and Amend Complaint" [26] is denied as moot.


On August 18, 2014, Plaintiff filed a four-page Complaint (one page of the Complaint is a duplicate) with several exhibits attached. On October 21, 2014, this Court denied Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, finding that Plaintiff did not qualify as indigent because she is employed by the Cook County Sheriff Department. Plaintiff paid the filing fee and re-filed her Complaint on October 27, 2014.

In the first paragraph of the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that jurisdiction is invoked under, among others, the Civil Rights Act, Title 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, and Chapter 21, 2000e-2(A)(1)(2), C (2)(3). On the second page of the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that this Court's jurisdiction is based on "Title 28 U.S. Code § Chapter 85, A(1)(2)(3)(4)" and arises "due to the lack of hearing and procedures as required by the collective bargaining agreement... entered into by local #700 and Cook County & Sheriff Dart, for labor disputes of which has effected [ sic ] Deputy Young." Plaintiff also identifies the parties, noting that Defendants Dart and Cook County are public employers.

Plaintiff then sets out five counts for purported "Civil Rights Violations and Employment Discriminations." Each count consists of one short paragraph and references various exhibits. Based on the exhibits, Plaintiff's claims seem to center on her suspension from her job for allegedly falsifying documents. Count I does not identify any Defendant but refers to a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") entered into between Defendants. Defendant Dart is named as the Defendant in Count II. Local 700 is named in Counts III and IV, although Count IV itself purports to arise out of Count II. Count V pertains to Defendant Dart. The Complaint contains one remedy section, seeking $175, 000 in compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorney's fees under § 1981.


A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Christensen v. County of Boone, 483 F.3d 454, 458 (7th Cir. 2007). A complaint must set forth a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' sufficient to provide the defendant with fair notice' of the claim and its basis." Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Although detailed factual allegations are not required, the complaint must allege sufficient facts "to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face" and which "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Accordingly, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

A Rule 12(b)(1) motion challenges federal jurisdiction, and the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing the elements necessary for jurisdiction, including standing, have been met. Scanlan v. Eisenberg, 669 F.3d 838, 841-42 (7th Cir. 2012). In ruling on a 12(b)(1) motion, the court may look outside of the complaint's allegations and consider whatever evidence has been submitted on the issue of jurisdiction. Ezekiel v. Michel, 66 F.3d 894, 897 (7th Cir. 1995). For purposes of a motion under Rule 12(b)(1) or Rule 12(b)(6), the court accepts all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and construes all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Scanlan, 669 F.3d at 841; Tamayo, 526 F.3d at 1081.

However, the pleadings of pro se litigants are not held to the same stringent standards as pleadings drafted by formally trained lawyers; instead, they must be liberally construed. See Kyle II v. Patterson, 196 F.3d 695, 697 (7th Cir. 1999) (citing Wilson v. Civil Town of Clayton, Ind., 839 F.2d 375, 378 (7th Cir. 1988)). Under this standard, a pro se complaint "may only be dismissed if it is beyond doubt that there is no set of facts under which the plaintiff could obtain relief." Wilson, 839 F.2d at 378. However, the court "is not to become an advocate" for the pro se plaintiff, Donald v. Cook County Sheriff's Dep't, 95 F.3d 548, 555 (7th Cir. 1996), and the complaint still must be "otherwise understandable." Hudson v. McHugh, 148 F.3d 859, 864 (7th Cir. 1998).


Each of Plaintiff's Counts is discussed below.

Count I

In Count I, Plaintiff alleges a violation of 29 U.S.C. § 108, the Norris-LaGuardia Act, for "noncompliance with obligation in Labor Disputes." Plaintiff alleges that she never received an impartial arbitration hearing relating to a suspension approved by the Cook County Sheriff's Merit Board ("Merit Board") on November 26, 2013. Plaintiff has attached the underlying Merit Board complaint, which alleges that ...

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