September 6, 2019
from the United States District Court for the Central
District of Illinois. No. 18-cv-3119 - Colin S. Bruce, Judge.
Easterbrook, Kanne, and Brennan, Circuit Judges.
Monell v. New York City Department of Social
Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), local governments may be
liable for violating individuals' rights guaranteed by
federal law. But local governments are responsible only for
"their own illegal acts"; they are not
responsible for others' acts falling outside an
official local-government policy. Pembaur v. City of
Cincinnati, 475 U.S. 469, 479 (1986).
Amanda Burger was fired from her job at the State's
Attorney's Office in Macon County, Illinois, she sued the
county for allegedly firing her in violation of her federal
constitutional rights. The district court dismissed the case,
concluding that Burger failed to state a federal claim
against the county.
the alleged illegal conduct was directed by an officer of the
State of Illinois, and not Macon County, we affirm.
Burger worked in the State's Attorney's Office for
Macon County. She was employed by the State's
Attorney's Office for about six years, starting in 2010.
During that time, Albert Scott was the elected State's
Attorney for Macon County and his deputy was Assistant
State's Attorney Nichole Kroncke. Burger alleges that
Kroncke had authority to hire and fire employees, including
Burger had been working at the Office for about five years,
she married. Her husband had been convicted of a felony drug
offense in Wyoming in 2009 and had served out his sentence by
the time of the marriage in 2015.
same year she married, Burger told Scott that she believed
Kroncke had violated state and federal laws, along with
employee-handbook provisions, by disclosing confidential
information and by discriminating against and harassing
employees. Soon after Burger made this report to Scott, Scott
relayed it to Kroncke, and Kroncke started treating Burger
poorly: excluding Burger from meetings and other
communications, bypassing Burger in the chain of command, and
calling Burger demeaning names.
in February 2016, Burger complained of this treatment to
Macon County human-resource personnel. A few months later, on
May 19, 2016, Burger was called into a meeting with Scott and
Kroncke. At the meeting, Burger was told that her employment
with the State's Attorney's Office was being
terminated immediately because of her association with her
husband, who had been convicted of a crime. Burger was
officially discharged the next day.
two years later, Burger filed a four-count complaint in
federal district court. She based three counts on Illinois
state law, asserting two counts against Macon County and one
count against Scott. The remaining count rested on federal
law, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and alleged that Burger's
firing violated her federal constitutional rights. Burger
asserted this count against Macon County only.
county and Scott moved to dismiss Burger's complaint
under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and (6). They
argued that Burger failed to state a federal claim and that
the remaining counts were time-barred or outside the
court's jurisdiction. The district court granted the
motion, dismissing the federal count and dismissing without