Kurtis B. v. Kopp, No. 12-2818 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Six-year-old D.B. and five-year-old twins C.C. and her brother W.C., were “playing doctor” in D.B.’s backyard when the twins’ mother arrived. She interpreted D.B.’s conduct as a sexual assault of her daughter and reported to the Department of Social Services. The Sheriff’s Department also responded. After an aggressive investigation, the District Attorney filed a petition alleging that D.B. had committed first-degree sexual assault and was in need of public protection or services. The petition was not adjudicated; the case was closed by consent decree. D.B.’s parents filed a civil-rights suit, alleging that county officials overzealously investigated and maliciously prosecuted D.B. They asserted a “class of one” equal-protection claim, noting that the twins engaged in the same behavior as D.B., but the twins’ father is a “high-ranking local political figure.” The district court dismissed. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Allegations of improper subjective motive are not enough to state a class-of-one equal-protection claim; a complaint must allege sufficient facts to plausibly show that the plaintiff was treated differently from others similarly situated and that the discriminatory treatment was wholly arbitrary and irrational. Here, there was an objective rational basis for disparate treatment. The twins’ mother witnessed D.B.’s conduct and reported it; there was no adult witness to the twins’ behavior.