LaBella’s Loss

Judge Virginia M. Kendall issued this opinion (from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois) last week. It concerns a restaurant (LaBella) that claimed it was the victim of selective enforcement and due process violations by the Village of Winnetka. LaBella sued under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983, alleging violations of the Equal Protection Clause and the substantive component of the Due Process Clause. No dice.

As is often the case, the court gutted the “class of one” equal protection claim on the “similarly situated” prong. “LaBella claim[ed] that Defendants treated it differently than other similarly situated restaurants in Winnetka by selectively enforcing Village ordinances and building codes against LaBella, but not against the “Friends of Doug” restaurants.” (footnote omitted). But LaBella failed to make a prima facie showing that any restaurant was operating in the same condition as it was.

LaBella also claimed that it was denied due process because the Village failed to send the renewal forms needed for its annual liquor license. Snake eyes:

While Winnetka licensees have a property interest in the renewal of their licenses, it does not necessarily follow that Winnetka licensees have a property interest in having the Village send them renewal forms. LaBella does not allege that Defendants took adverse action on its renewal form after refusing to allow LaBella the opportunity to participate in the decisionmaking process. Instead, LaBella claims that its constitutional deprivation occurred when it did not receive its renewal form in the mail. Unlike in Club Misty or Killinger, LaBella’s claims do not relate to the decisionmaking process that led to an ultimate decision on its license. While LaBella has provided legal support for its contention that it had a protectable property interest in the renewalof its licenses, it has provided no support for its contention that it had a protectable property interest in receiving renewal forms from the Village.

Slip Opinion at 14 (all emphasis in original).

The court noted that “even if LaBella did allege a deprivation of a protected interest, because it has alleged that Defendants engaged in random and unauthorized acts of canceling its licenses in order to benefit the ‘Friends of Doug’ restaurants, to comply with the requirements of due process, a state only needs to provide an adequate postdeprivation remedy.” (citation omitted).

LaBella probably isn’t happy. At least it got a thorough, well-reasoned (and correct, IMHO) analysis from court.

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