Del Marcelle v. Brown County Corp., No. 10-3426 (7th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
The suit, against law enforcement officers and the county, claimed denial of equal protection in failure to respond to complaints about gang harassment. The district court, interpreting the pro se complaint as concerning inadequate police protection, dismissed. The Seventh Circuit panel interpreted as charging defendants with arbitrarily providing less police protection to than to other residents, a "class of one" discrimination claim, but concluded that the claim failed, absent an allegation of personal animosity. On hearing case en banc, the court split three ways, affirming the dismissal by tie vote. Four judges (with a concurring opinion) stated that a "class of one" plaintiff must establish intentional discrimination by state actors who knew or should have known that they had no justification, based on their public duties, for singling him out for unfavorable treatment. The opinion stated that class-of-one suits should not be permitted against police officers or police departments. The complaint did not allege personal motives. "Rightly or wrongly they thought him a paranoid pest obsessed with motorcycle gangs." Four dissenters indicated that plaintiff should be allowed to replead and that the standard, which does not require mindreading," is the rational-basis test.