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Case Basics
Docket No. 
Village of Willowbrook
(Argued the cause for the petitioners)
(Department of Justice, argued the cause for the United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of court)
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
Facts of the Case 

Grace Olech asked the Village of Willowbrook to connect her property to the municipal water supply. The Village conditioned the connection on Olech's granting of a 33-foot easement. Olech refused, claiming that the Village only required a 15-foot easement from other property owners seeking access to the water supply. Olech sued the Village claiming that the Village's demand of an additional 18-foot easement violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The District Court dismissed the case for failure to state a cognizable claim under the Equal Protection Clause. In reversing, the Court of Appeals held 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."


Does the Equal Protection Clause give rise to a cause of action on behalf of a "class of one" where the plaintiff did not allege membership in a class or group?

Decision: 9 votes for Olech, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Equal Protection

Yes. In a per curiam opinion, the Court held that Olech's allegations were sufficient to state a claim for relief under traditional equal protection analysis. "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," stated the unanimous, unsigned opinion. Justice Stephen G. Breyer concurred.

Cite this Page
VILLAGE OF WILLOWBROOK v. OLECH. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 May 2015. <>.
VILLAGE OF WILLOWBROOK v. OLECH, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited May 26, 2015).
"VILLAGE OF WILLOWBROOK v. OLECH," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed May 26, 2015,