United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
ORDER AND OPINION
E. SHADID UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is now before the Court on Defendant Jay Neal's
Motion for Summary Judgment. D. 35. Plaintiff filed a response
in opposition. D. 37. Defendant filed a reply to
Plaintiff's response. D. 40. For the reasons set forth
below, Defendant's Motion is GRANTED.
following facts are undisputed. This case stems from an
investigation by the Illinois Department of Children and
Family Services (“DCFS”) for possible child abuse
or neglect. D. 36, at 2. On September 10, 2016, DCFS received
a report that Plaintiff Jennifer Carey (“Carey”)
drove while intoxicated with her daughter in the vehicle,
thereby placing her daughter at risk. Id. at 2, 4.
The case was assigned to a DCFS investigator, Defendant
Michelle Bennett (“Bennett”). Id. at 2.
Defendant Jay Neal (“Neal”) was Bennett's
full-time supervisor, having been promoted to the supervisor
position seven days before the report against Carey.
Id. Neal's role as supervisor was to guide
Bennett's investigation and to review all the information
before they made a final decision to either indicate or
unfound the report. Id. at 5. An indicated report
means the investigator has determined that credible evidence
of the alleged abuse or neglect exists, while an unfounded
report means the investigator found no credible evidence of
abuse or neglect. 325 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/3; 89 Ill. Adm. Code
§ 300.20. An investigator may also find the report is
undetermined, which means it was not possible to initiate the
investigation or complete it within 60 days based on
information provided to DCFS. Id.
October 31, 2016, DCFS issued its final report indicating
Carey for Allegation 60 - Environment Injurious to Health and
Welfare. D. 36, at 3. Carey appealed the indicated report
through an administrative hearing. Id. at 4. Neal
did not testify at the administrative hearing. Id.
at 5. The Administrative Law Judge found DCFS did not meet
its burden of proof that Carey was intoxicated during the
incident and recommended the indicated report be overturned.
Id. The Director of DCFS adopted the Administrative
Law Judge's findings and recommendations from the hearing
and expunged the indicated report against Carey. Id.
after the investigation began, but before the indicated
report was issued, Carey accepted a job offer from McDonough
District Hospital. Id. at 7. Carey informed the
hospital of the indicated report the same day she received
notice. Id. The hospital told Carey her job would be
held, and she could begin her employment as soon as the
report was unfounded. Id. It is not clear from the
record when Carey was originally supposed to start her new
the investigation, Neal did not know Carey was a licensed
nurse or that she had applied for a position at a hospital.
Id. at 10. Bennett's case notes do not report
Carey's employment status or profession. Id. In
fact, the police report from the incident contains the only
mention of Carey being a nurse. Id. It was not until
the administrative appeal process began that Neal learned
Carey was a nurse and had accepted a job. Id.
now moves for summary judgment on Counts I and III as applied
to him. D. 35. Count I is a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, alleging Neal violated Carey's procedural
and substantive due process rights by indicating Carey for
child abuse/neglect without providing her what are commonly
referred to as Dupuy protections and by not
considering exculpatory evidence. Id. Count III is a
state law claim for malicious prosecution.
response to the motion for summary judgment, Carey stated she
is pursuing only her procedural due process claim against
Neal. D. 37, at 18. Carey argues Neal violated her due
process rights by failing to properly conduct the
investigation of Carey pursuant to Dupuy v. Samuels,
397 F.3d 493 (7th Cir. 2005). Id. at 1. Carey states
that summary judgment is not appropriate because numerous
material facts are disputed. Id. at 2. Since Carey
is not pursuing her substantive due process violation and
malicious prosecution claims against Neal, the Court grants
summary judgment in favor of Neal on Count III and this
opinion will address only Carey's procedural due process
argues he is entitled to summary judgment on the procedural
due process claim. First, Neal argues the doctrine of
respondeat superior does not apply to § 1983
actions and there is no evidence Neal played a significant
role in the investigation beyond supporting and supervising
Bennett. D. 36, at 12. Second, Neal argues Carey cannot
establish a procedural due process claim because she does not
have a cognizable liberty interest under the Fourteenth
Amendment. Id. at 13. Even if she did have such an
interest, Neal states Carey already received adequate due
process and her claim is moot. Id. at 16.
judgment is proper where the materials in the record
demonstrate that there is “no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The role of the judge
in resolving a motion for summary judgment is not to weigh
the evidence for its truth, but to determine whether
sufficient evidence exists for a jury to return a verdict in
favor of the non-movant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). The Court will construe
the record “in the light most favorable to the
non-movant” in deciding whether the case involves
genuine issues of fact requiring a trial. Payne v.
Pauley, 337 F.2d 767, 770 (7th Cir. 2003).
prevail on a procedural due process claim, “a plaintiff
must establish that a state actor deprived him of a
constitutionally protected liberty or property interest
without due process of law. ” Hinkle v. White,
793 F.3d 764, 767 (7th Cir. 2015) quoting Dupuy v.
Samuels, 397 F.3d 493, 503 (7th Cir. 2005). Accordingly,
the claim is evaluated with a two-step inquiry: First,
whether there a liberty or property interest with which the
state has interfered; and second, whether the procedures
attendant upon that deprivation were constitutionally
the government deprives an individual of a protected liberty
interest, that individual must be afforded not only adequate
notice but also a reasonable opportunity to be heard.”
Doyle v. Camelot Care Ctrs., Inc., 305 F.3d 603, 617
(7th Cir. 2002). The precise timing and form of the
procedures hinge upon the particularities of the situation.
“Due process is ...