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7th Circuit Dismisses Inadequate Police Protection Suit against City of Chicago

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the judgment of the district court judge which dismissed a lawsuit alleging discrimination against the City of Chicago for failing "to have adequate policies in place for the protection of female victims of domestic violence.” Brewster McCauley, as Special Administrator of the Estate of Mersaides McCauley, had stated in his complaint that the City "failed to single out domestic-violence victims as a class for special protection, not that the City denied this class of victims equal protection.

The case arose out of serious incidents of domestic violence, which culminated in Glenford Martinez shooting and killing his ex-girlfriend, Mersaides McCauley as she left the parking lot of her church in Chicago. The shooting occurred despite Martinez being out of prison on parole, and having an order-of-protection entered against him on behalf of the decedent. According to the decision, the suit alleged that "Chicago law enforcement and Illinois corrections officials were aware of these violations and could have ensured that Martinez was detained without bail, but they neither issued a parole-violation warrant nor arrested him for violating the order of protection."

Only the equal-protection claims against the City and Illinois Department of Correction Director Roger Walker were at issue. For the claim of discrimination or lack of equal protection to survive, the complaint had to plead "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference" that the City maintained a policy, custom, or practice of intentional discrimination against a class of persons to whom Mersaides belonged." Ascroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937 (2009). The "factual allegations must he enough to raise a right of relief above the speculative level." Bell Att. Corp. v. Twombley, 550 U.S. at 555 (2007).

The court found, in upholding the dismissal order of the district court, that the "factual allegations are entirely consistent with lawful conduct ... lawful allocation of limited police resources... [which] does not state a... equal-protection claim against the City."

The dissent of Judge Hamilton focused on the fact that although this particular claim would probably fail for lack of proof, "the courthouse door must remain open to claims that the police are systematically denying some people the literal equal protection of the law." See: McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, C.A.7 (Ill.), October 20, 2011 (NO. 09-3561).

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Related legal case

McCauley v. City of Chicago