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McCarthy v. Village of Barrington

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

May 21, 2018

KAREN S. MCCARTHY, Plaintiff,
v.
VILLAGE OF BARRINGTON, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          RUBEN CASTILLO CHIEF JUDGE

         Plaintiff Karen McCarthy brings this action alleging deprivation of her constitutional rights against the Village of Barrington (the "Village"), the Board of Trustees of the Village of Barrington (the "Board"), Karen Darch, Jason Lohmeyer, Todd Sholeen, James Daluga, Jeff Lawler, Greg Summers, Jennifer Tennant, and Natalie Ossowski (collectively, the " Village Defendants"). (R. 20, Am. Compl. ¶¶ 78-112.) She also asserts that Defendants Kara O'Dempsey and Adam O'Dempsey violated Illinois' Zoning Enabling Act ("ZEA"), 65 III. Comp. Stat. 5/11-1345. (Id. ¶¶ 113-19.) Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Village Defendants move to dismiss only the claims alleging deprivation of Plaintiffs constitutional rights. (R. 26, Mot.) For the reasons stated below, the Village Defendants' motion is granted, and Plaintiffs remaining state-law claim under the ZEA is dismissed because the Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over that claim.

         RELEVANT FACTS

         Plaintiff is a resident of Barrington, Illinois. (R. 20, Am. Compl. ¶ 4.) The Village is a municipal corporation located in Cook and Lake Counties, Illinois, and the Board is the legislative body for the Village. (Id. ¶¶ 5-6.) Village Defendant Darch is the president of the Board and a trustee of the Board, and Village Defendants Lohmeyer, Sholeen, and Daluga are also trustees of the Board. (Id. ¶ 7.) As for the remaining Village Defendants, Lawler is the chief administrative officer of the Village, Summers is the director of development services for the Village, Tennant is the assistant director of development services for the Village, and Ossowski is the planning and zoning coordinator for the Village, (Id. ¶¶ 8-11.) Defendants Karen and Adam O'Dempsey (collectively, the "O'Dempseys")-a married couple-are Plaintiffs neighbors. (Id. ¶¶ 1346, 28.)

         In January 2015, the O'Dempseys purchased a property located on a lot that adjoins Plaintiffs property. (Id. ¶¶ 13, 28-29.) On March 6, 2015, the O'Dempseys submitted a building permit application to the Village for demolition of the existing house on their property so that they could build a new house in its place. (Id. ¶¶ 30-31, 39, 41-42, 60.) Plaintiff asserts that the O'Dempseys' construction plans incorrectly classified space on the second floor of then planned house as "attic space" to skirt floor space limitations established by Village zoning ordinances. (Id. ¶¶ 32-35, 46-48.) Plaintiff claims that the Village Defendants "knew or should have known" of the misclassification, yet they issued a building permit to the O'Dempseys allowing them to proceed with construction without requesting a variance. (Id. ¶¶ 36, 39, 64, 74.) Plaintiff alleges that the Village Defendants approved the O'Dempseys' building permit "knowingly and without rational basis[.]" (Id. ¶ 74.) The O'Dempseys finished construction of their house in August 2016. (Id. ¶60.)

         Plaintiff claims that the O'Dempseys' house was the only "known case" in which the Village approved a building permit for a house whose floor area exceeded the limits set forth in the Village's zoning ordinances. (Id. ¶ 86.) Plaintiff also claims that she is "similarly situated to homeowners .. . who abut properties where the property owners['] planned construction . ..would result in a departure from ... the Village's ordinances, and were required to apply for and receive a variation permit." (Id. ¶ 87.) She points to the Village's alleged issuance of a building permit for a new house in June 2016 in which the Village allowed that house to exceed floor area limitations after a public hearing and grant of a variance. (Id. ¶ 88.)

         Plaintiff asserts that the Village Defendants thwarted her attempts to ascertain whether the O'Dempseys' new house complied with zoning ordinances, and that they denied her access to Village documents. (See Id. ¶ 51.) Plaintiff alleges that on May 9, 2016, she was told at a Village Board meeting that she could no longer view the Village's documents without a request pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act and prior approval from the Village's attorney. (Id. ¶¶ 49-51.) Plaintiff claims that she was then escorted out of the building by Village police. (Id. ¶ 51.) On May 17, 2016, Plaintiff then allegedly received a letter from Village Defendant Lawler, which stated that Plaintiff could not visit Village Hall without an appointment. (Id. ¶ 52.) Plaintiff also claims that the very next day, she received unsolicited documents from the Village, including but not limited to plans of the O'Dempseys' house as it was built that "create a misleading appearance of compliance with" the Village's zoning ordinances. (Id. ¶¶ 54, 59.)

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On My 31, 2017, Plaintiff filed her initial complaint. (R. 1, Compl.) Plaintiff filed her first amended complaint on October 18, 2017, which alleges three causes of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on deprivation of her constitutional rights, and one cause of action alleging a violation of the ZEA, (R. 20, Am. Compl. ¶¶ 78-119.)

         Count I claims that the Village Defendants violated Plaintiffs constitutional right to equal protection because they allegedly discriminated against her by failing to enforce zoning ordinances against the O'Dempseys. (Id. ¶¶ 78-93.) In Count II, Plaintiff alleges that the Village Defendants violated her procedural due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment because they failed to require the O'Dempseys to apply for a variance, which would have resulted in a public fact-finding hearing concerning the O'Dempseys' construction plans. (Id. ¶¶ 94-104.) Count III asserts that the Village Defendants violated Plaintiffs Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process rights by "arbitrarily" and "unreasonably" approving the O'Dempseys' building permit and by failing to enforce the Village's zoning ordinances. (Id. ¶¶ 105-12.) Finally, in Count IV, Plaintiff alleges that the O'Dempseys violated the ZEA by constructing a house in violation of the Village's zoning ordinances. (Id. ¶¶ 113-19.)

         On November 14, 2017, the Village Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Counts I through III of the amended complaint. (R. 26 Mot.) As to Count I, they argue that Plaintiff fails to allege an equal protection claim because she does not plausibly allege that the Village Defendants intentionally targeted her or that they lacked a rational basis for their approval of the O'Dempseys' new house. (R. 27, Mem. at 11-14.) The Village Defendants argue that the Court should dismiss Counts II and III because Plaintiff has failed to exhaust available state court and administrative remedies as is required to maintain constitutional due process claims in federal court that arise from a municipality's zoning decision. (Id. at 7-11.) The O'Dempseys have not filed a motion to dismiss or any other dispositive motion.

         In response, Plaintiff argues that the Court should deny the motion to dismiss as to Count I because she plausibly alleges that the Village Defendants approved the O'Dempseys' new house without any rational basis and intentionally discriminated against her by "burdening her with an unlawful structure next door." (R. 35, Resp. at 4-12.) With respect to Counts II and III, Plaintiff contends that the Court should deny the motion to dismiss because she is not required to exhaust available state-court and administrative remedies. (Id. at 12-14.)

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) "challenges the viability of a complaint by arguing that it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." Firestone Fin. Corp. v. Meyer,796 F.3d 822, 825 (7th Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). In order to survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint must allege enough factual information to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Doe v. Vill. of Arlington Heights, 782 F.3d 911, 914 (7th Cir. 2015). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content which allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability ...


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