Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Gray v. Canton Township

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division

October 24, 2019

MARTHA GRAY, Plaintiff,
v.
CANTON TOWNSHIP, FULTON COUNTY, ILLINOIS and STEVEN DERENZY, Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION

          Michael M. Mihm United States District Judge.

         This matter is now before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss Count II of Plaintiff's Complaint (ECF No. 19) filed by Defendant Canton Township, Fulton County, Illinois (“Township” or “Defendant”). For the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Count II is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         On February 21, 1988, the Township hired Plaintiff Martha Gray (“Plaintiff”) to work in the Township Assessor's Office as a Deputy Assessor. (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 5). On or about August 6, 2018, Defendant Steven DeRenzy (“DeRenzy”) hired a male employee, who was thirty-six years old, to work for the Assessor's Office as a Deputy Assessor. Id. at ¶ 7. Plaintiff and the new male hire allegedly have the same working conditions, the same job responsibilities, and exert the same amount of effort in assessing the value of Township properties. Id. at ¶¶ 9, 10. Plaintiff alleges that the new male hire earns a higher salary than she does, even though they conduct substantially equal work. Id. at ¶ 16. Plaintiff also states that she has greater skills and is certified, while the new male hire is taking classes to become certified. Id. at ¶ 11.

         Plaintiff filed an action in this Court on June 3, 2019, claiming violations of the Equal Pay Act and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“§ 1983”) against DeRenzy and the Township. Id. at 3-6. On August 16, 2019, the Township filed a Motion to Dismiss Count II. (ECF No. 19). This Opinion follows.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, which when accepted as true, states a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Plausibility means alleging factual content that allows a court to reasonably infer that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007). A plaintiff's claim must “give enough details about the subject matter of the case to present a story that holds together” to be plausible. Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 404 (7th Cir. 2010). A court must draw all inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Bontkowski v. First Nat'l Bank of Cicero, 998 F.2d 459, 461 (7th Cir. 1993).

         When evaluating a motion to dismiss, courts must accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint. Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678. However, the court need not accept as true the complaint's legal conclusions; “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. (citing Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 555). Conclusory allegations are “not entitled to be assumed true.” Id.

         ANALYSIS

         I. Monell Claim

         The Township claims that it cannot be held liable under § 1983 based solely under a theory that its employee, DeRenzy, is a tortfeasor. The Township states that Plaintiff has not alleged any facts that establish DeRenzy as a “lawmaker” or a “policy making official.” (ECF No. 19 at ¶ 7). The Township further states that Plaintiff has not “alleged injuries that resulted from ‘practices so persistent and widespread as to practically have the force of law.'” Id. Plaintiff argues that the Complaint sufficiently alleges that through DeRenzy's ability to hire and determine wages for Plaintiff and the new male hire, a reasonable inference can be drawn that DeRenzy had final policymaking authority with respect to hiring, firing, and determining wages.

         A plaintiff can hold governmental agencies or policymaking officials liable under § 1983 if she suffers from constitutional injuries as a result of an official policy, practice, or custom. Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978). To prevail on a claim under Monell, a plaintiff must show that a municipal employee's unconstitutional act was caused by: “(1) an express [municipal] policy that, when enforced, causes a constitutional deprivation; (2) a widespread practice that, although not authorized by written law or express municipal policy, is so permanent and well settled as to constitute a custom or usage with the force of law; or (3) an allegation that the constitutional injury was caused by a person with final policymaking authority.” Gable v. City of Chicago, 296 F.3d 531, 537 (7th Cir. 2002) (citation omitted); see also Thomas v. Cook Cty. Sheriff's Dep't, 604 F.3d 293, 303 (7th Cir. 2010).

         When a particular course of action is directed by those who set municipal policy, the municipality is responsible under § 1983, even if the action in question is undertaken only once. Pembaur v. City of Cincinnati, 475 U.S. 469, 480-81 (1986). However, “[t]he fact that a particular official - even a policymaking official - has discretion in the exercise of particular functions does not, without more, give rise to municipal liability based on an exercise of that discretion.” Id. at 481-82. Rather, such an official must also be responsible for establishing final government policy on a particular issue. Id. at 482-83. Officials with final decision-making authority are deemed policymakers for Monell purposes, and courts need to look to state law to determine the scope of such authority. See Pembaur, 475 U.S. at 480; City of St. Louis v. Praprotnik, 485 U.S. 112, 134 (1988); Jett v. Dallas Indep. Sch. Dist., 491 U.S. 701, 737 (1989).

         Plaintiff contends that because DeRenzy made the decision to hire the new male employee and pay him more, Monell liability should apply against the Township; however, just because DeRenzy may be the decisionmaker on hiring decisions for the Assessor's Office does not necessarily make him the policymaker for the Township. It is a “well-established principle that the mere unreviewed discretion to make hiring and firing decisions does not amount to policymaking authority. There must be a delegation of authority to set policy for hiring and firing, not a delegation of only the final authority to hire and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.