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Supreme Court of the United States
February 23, 2000, Decided
[*563] [**1074] [***1062] PER CURIAM.
Respondent Grace Olech and her late husband Thaddeus asked petitioner Village of Willowbrook to connect their property to the municipal water supply. The Village at first conditioned the connection on the Olechs granting the Village a 33-foot easement. The Olechs objected, claiming that the Village only required a 15-foot easement from other property owners seeking access to the water supply. After a 3-month delay, the Village relented and agreed to provide water service with only a 15-foot easement.
Olech sued the Village claiming that the Village's demand of an additional [***1063] 18-foot easement violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Olech asserted that the 33-foot [****2] easement demand was "irrational and wholly arbitrary"; that the Village's demand was actually motivated by ill will resulting from the Olechs' previous filing of an unrelated, successful lawsuit against the Village; and that the Village acted either with the intent to deprive Olech of her rights or in reckless disregard of her rights. App. 10, 12.
The District Court dismissed the lawsuit pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a cognizable claim under the Equal Protection Clause. Relying on Circuit precedent, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh [*564] Circuit reversed, holding that a plaintiff can allege an equal protection violation by asserting that state action was motivated solely by a "'spiteful effort to "get" him for reasons wholly unrelated to any legitimate state objective.'" 160 F.3d 386, 387 (CA7 1998) (quoting Esmail v. Macrane, 53 F.3d 176, 180 (CA7 1995)). It determined that Olech's complaint sufficiently alleged such a claim. 160 F.3d at 388. We granted certiorari to determine whether the Equal Protection Clause gives rise to a cause of action on behalf of a "class of one" where the plaintiff did [****3] not allege membership in a class or group. 1
Our cases have recognized successful ] equal protection claims brought by a "class of one," where the plaintiff alleges that she has been intentionally treated differently from others similarly situated and that there is no rational basis for the difference in treatment. See Sioux City Bridge Co. v. Dakota County, 260 U.S. 441, 67 L. Ed. 340, 43 S. Ct. 190 (1923); [****4] Allegheny Pittsburgh Coal Co. v. Commission of Webster Cty., 488 U.S. 336, 102 L. Ed. 2d 688, 109 S. Ct. 633 (1989). In so doing, we have explained that "'the purpose [**1075] of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is to secure every person within the State's jurisdiction against intentional and arbitrary discrimination, whether occasioned by express terms of a statute or by its improper execution through duly constituted agents.'" Sioux City Bridge Co., supra, at 445 (quoting Sunday Lake Iron Co. v. Township of Wakefield, 247 U.S. 350, 352, 62 L. Ed. 1154, 38 S. Ct. 495 (1918)).
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528 U.S. 562 *; 120 S. Ct. 1073 **; 145 L. Ed. 2d 1060 ***; 2000 U.S. LEXIS 1540 ****; 68 U.S.L.W. 4157; 2000 Cal. Daily Op. Service 1359; 2000 Daily Journal DAR 1909; 30 ELR 20360; 2000 Colo. J. C.A.R. 897; 13 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 105
VILLAGE OF WILLOWBROOK, ET AL., PETITIONERS v. GRACE OLECH
Prior History: [****1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT.
Village, easement, rational basis, ill will, transform, connect, zoning, cases, different treatment, similarly situated, municipal water, zoning decision, property owner, intentionally, illegitimate, allegations, irrational, regulation, unrelated, lawsuit, rights
Constitutional Law, Equal Protection, Nature & Scope of Protection, Judicial Review, Standards of Review