United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
T. MOODY JUDGE
Kathleen Escobedo (“Escobedo”) brings claims
against former Lake County Sheriff John C. Buncich
(“Buncich”) and Lake County, Indiana (“Lake
County”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (DE # 1 at
1.) The matter is now before the court on defendant
Buncich's motion to dismiss. (DE # 15.) For the reasons
set forth below, the motion will be denied.
is a female who is employed by Lake County as a correctional
officer. (DE # 1 at 2.) She performs duties in the Lake
County Jail. (Id.) She alleges that in May 2016, she
was placed on administrative leave after being erroneously
accused of causing an inmate to escape from custody.
time, Buncich was the Sheriff of Lake County and
plaintiff's supervisor. (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff
alleges that Buncich gave her a fifteen-day suspension
starting on June 13, 2016, for allegedly causing the escape.
(Id. at 3-4.) She also alleges that Buncich caused
her to be removed from the “SWAT” team for
approximately six months, and that she was barred from
certain overtime opportunities. (Id. at 4.)
contrast, plaintiff alleges that similarly situated male
correctional officers who were also associated with the
escape were treated more favorably than plaintiff.
(Id. at 3.) She states that Buncich
“intentionally and purposely treated [her] less
favorably because she is female.” (Id. at 3.)
on these facts, plaintiff filed a complaint in this court on
June 12, 2018. (DE # 1.) The complaint contains three claims
for violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
(Id. at 4-9.)
August 24, 2018, Buncich filed a motion to dismiss. (DE #
15.) Buncich argues that the court should dismiss Count I of
the complaint. (DE # 16 at 1.) Count I is an individual
capacity claim against Buncich, alleging that he violated
plaintiff's rights under the Equal Protection Clause. (DE
# 1 at 3.) Plaintiff responded to the motion (DE # 18), and
Buncich filed a reply brief (DE # 19). The motion is now
fully briefed and ripe for ruling.
has moved to dismiss plaintiff's claim under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted. A judge reviewing a complaint
under a Rule 12(b)(6) standard must construe it in the light
most favorable to the non-moving party, accept well-pleaded
facts as true, and draw all inferences in the
non-movant's favor. Erickson v. Pardus , 551
U.S. 89, 93 (2007); Reger Dev., LLC v. Nat'l City
Bank, 595 F.3d 759, 763 (7th Cir. 2010). Under the
liberal notice-pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, the complaint need only contain “a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
To satisfy Rule 8(a), “the statement need only
‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim
is and the grounds upon which it rests.'”
Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
the federal pleading standard is quite forgiving, . . . the
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Ray v. City of Chicago, 629 F.3d 660,
662-63 (7th Cir. 2011); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555,
570. A plaintiff must plead “factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). To
meet this standard, a complaint does not need detailed
factual allegations, but it must go beyond providing
“labels and conclusions” and “be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citing Sanjuan v. Am.
Bd. of Psychiatry & Neurology, 40 F.3d 247, 251 (7th
Cir. 1994) among other authorities).
discriminatory act against an individual member of a
protected class can amount to an Equal Protection claim.
Bohen v. City of E. Chicago, Ind., 799 F.2d 1180,
1186-87 (7th Cir. 1986). It is undisputed that plaintiff, as
a woman, is a member of a protected class. However, merely
alleging discrimination against a woman is not enough to
state a claim. Plaintiff must also allege “an intent to
discriminate [against plaintiff] because of her status as a
female and not because of characteristics of her gender which
are personal to her.” Trautvetter v. Quick,
916 F.2d 1140, 1151 (7th Cir. 1990). In other words,
plaintiff “must show that the decisionmakers in [her]
case acted with discriminatory purpose.” Chavez v.
Illinois State Police, 251 F.3d 612, 645 (7th Cir. 2001)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
moves to dismiss Count I on the grounds that (1) plaintiff
has failed to properly allege discriminatory intent or
purpose, and (2) to the extent she does allege such intent or
purpose, her allegations are ...