United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Civil Rights — equal protection — class-of-one
A clear showing of animus, even absent a robust comparison to a similarly situated individual, may sustain a class-of-one equal protection claim.
“In the present case, where the direct showing of animus was very strong, Swanson’s pointing to Michele Eberle as a similarly situated individual was helpful in indicating the norm governing the regulation of fences in Chetek. Whitworth’s actions against Swanson resulted in a drastic deviation from that norm, and Whitworth’s previous statements made clear that his personal hatred caused this unwarranted difference in treatment. Hypothetically, if the direct evidence of animus were less strong but still significant, Eberle’s circumstance could be invoked as additional support for a direct showing of animus. Here, however, all Swanson needs to show is that harassment, yelling, arbitrary denials and frivolous litigation do not normally follow requests for fence permits.”
Affirmed in part, and Reversed in part.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, Crocker, Mag. J., Cudahy, J.