United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER.
R. Herndon United States District Judge.
before the Court is defendants', Board of Trustees of
Southern Illinois University, Paul Fuligni, Donna Meyer, and
Kenneth Neher (hereinafter collectively
“defendants”), motion to dismiss count III of
plaintiff's third amended complaint pursuant to FEDERAL
RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 12(b)(6) (Doc. 42). Plaintiff, Janice
LaRiviere, opposes the motion on grounds that the pleading
requirements of 12(b)(6) are satisfied and defendants have
adequate notice of her claims. (Doc. 51). For the reasons
explained below, the Court DENIES defendants' motion to
dismiss. (Doc. 48).
Janice LaRiviere, is an African American female who began her
employment with SIUE and the Department of Facilities
Management in 2002. (Doc. 42, pg. 3). She held her most
recent position, Assistant Director of Building Maintenance,
from 2005 to the date her complaint was filed, and afterward.
(Doc. 42, pg. 3-4). Plaintiff was hired pursuant to a
continuing appointment, which renewed automatically each year
unless given notice as set forth under SIUE's personnel
policies. (Doc. 42, pg. 4). SIUE's policies state that
employees who have been appointed three or more times, of
which plaintiff was one, shall be given no less than a one
year notice of their non-reappointment. (Doc. 42, Pg. 4).
has had a history of filing charges of discrimination and
retaliation against some or all defendants. (Doc. 42, pg. 4).
Specifically, on October 11, 2012, plaintiff received a right
to sue letter from the E.E.O.C. after filing a discrimination
charge against SIUE. (Doc. 42, pg. 4). On October 25, 2012,
plaintiff then filed a discrimination complaint against the
Board of Trustees of SIU, and Kenneth Neher, individually, in
the United States District Court for the Southern District of
Illinois, for allegedly “failing to promote her to the
position of Director of Facilities Management based on her
race.” (Doc. 42, pg. 4). On December 6, 2013, plaintiff
also filed a complaint against the defendants in the
Twentieth Judicial Circuit, St. Clair County, Illinois,
alleging “racial discrimination in their promotion
policies and for… non-compliance with Federal and
State race discrimination laws….” (Doc. 42, pg.
5). On January 13, 2014, and August 14, 2014, the
plaintiff's complaints were dismissed by the U.S.
District Court and the Circuit Court of St. Clair County,
respectively. (Doc. 42, pg. 5). During the pendency of the
lawsuits, plaintiff continued to be employed by SIUE pursuant
to her continuing appointment. (Doc. 42, pg. 5).
September 2, 2016, plaintiff filed her original complaint in
state court for the current matter. (Doc. 49, pg. 1; Doc. 48,
pg. 2). Defendants subsequently removed the case to this
Court and filed a motion for a more definite statement, which
was granted. (Doc. 49, pg. 1-2; Doc. 48, pg. 2). Plaintiff
was directed to “identif[y] the specific Defendants who
allegedly perpetrated each act alleged in the
Complaint.” (Doc. 15). In response, plaintiff filed
first and second amended complaints, to which defendants
responded with motions to dismiss. (Doc. 49, pg. 2; Doc. 48,
pg. 2). This Court granted in part defendants' partial
motion to dismiss count III of plaintiff's second amended
complaint, but allowed plaintiff to file a third amended
complaint, which she did on March 22, 2017. (Doc. 49, pg. 1;
Doc. 48, pg. 2).
count III, plaintiff makes allegations against defendants
Fuligni, Meyer, and Neher in their individual capacities,
under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983. (Doc. 42, pg.
14). Specifically, she states that defendants
“participated in the discriminatory and retaliatory
conduct… as part of a broader policy of discrimination
towards the Plaintiff in retaliation for engaging in conduct
protected by 42 U.S.C. Section 2000 et seq.” (Doc. 42,
pg. 14). In so doing, she states that defendants “were
either in previous litigation filed by the Plaintiff or
acting either as a supervisor or investigator and had
knowledge of the complaints filed by the Plaintiff.”
(Doc. 42, pg. 14). Thus, she alleges that defendants,
“under the color of State law, ” intentionally
engaged in “a systemic and methodical pattern of
antagonism…, ” which ultimately deprived her of
rights secured by the Constitution, for her filing of
E.E.O.C. complaints and lawsuits. (Doc. 42, pg. 14-15).
Motion to Dismiss
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
Gen. Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge
No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). The Supreme
Court explained in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), that in order to withstand Rule
12(b)(6) dismissal, a complaint “does not need detailed
factual allegations, ” but must contain “enough
facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its
face.” 550 U.S. at 570.
and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) retooled
federal pleading standards, but notice pleading remains all
that is required in a complaint. “A plaintiff still
must provide only ‘enough detail to give the defendant
fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which
it rests and, through his allegations, show that it is
plausible, rather than merely speculative, that he is
entitled to relief.'” Tamayo v.
Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1083 (7th Cir. 2008)
(citation omitted). In making this assessment, the district
court accepts as true all well-pleaded factual allegations
and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's
favor. See Rujawitz v. Martin, 561 F.3d 685, 688
(7th Cir. 2009); St. John's United Church of Christ
v. City of Chi., 502 F.3d 616, 625 (7th Cir. 2007).
above standard applies to civil rights suits, as heightened
notice pleading requirements have been found to be
unnecessary in those cases. Kyle v. Morton High
School, 144 F.3d 448, 455 (7th Cir. 1998). Furthermore,
the Seventh Circuit has held that to survive a motion to
dismiss a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must only
“allege facts which show that the defendant, acting
under color of state law, intentionally and unlawfully
deprived the plaintiff of a constitutional right.”
Anderson v. Simon, 217 F.3d 472, 474 (7th Cir.
2000). Again, in these instances, Federal notice pleading
requires “only that the plaintiff ‘set out in her
complaint a short and plain statement of the claim that will
provide the defendant with fair notice….'”