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BUCKHALTER v. PEPSI-COLA GEN. BOTTLERS

August 13, 1984

ROBERT BUCKHALTER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PEPSI-COLA GENERAL BOTTLERS, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bua, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM ORDER

The case at bar is an action filed under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 in which the plaintiff alleges that he was terminated from his employment by defendant Pepsi because of his race. Before the Court is the defendants' motion for summary judgment based on the doctrine of res judicata and the defendants' objections to the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate recommending that the motion be denied. For the reasons stated herein, the defendants' objections are sustained and the motion for summary judgment is granted.

FACTS

Plaintiff was terminated from his employment with Pepsi following certain events which transpired on June 10, 1978. On that date, two Pepsi security personnel observed a group of men in the parking lot of Pepsi's 51st Street plant in Chicago. Some or all of these men were allegedly drinking beer. When approached by the security agents, four of the men were able to flee, while four others, including plaintiff, were taken into the custody of the security men. These four individuals were subsequently discharged from their employment with Pepsi.

Following an informal grievance meeting, Pepsi decided to uphold the discharge of plaintiff. This decision was appealed by plaintiff's labor union to the labor management committee, which also ruled against plaintiff.

On August 2, 1978, plaintiff filed a charge of racial discrimination with the Illinois Fair Employment Practices Commission (the FEPC).*fn1 On May 29, 1979, the FEPC issued a complaint of racial discrimination which was heard before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) of the Illinois Human Rights Commission (HRC) in a hearing in March, 1980. In March, 1982, the ALJ ruled against plaintiff and dismissed all of the claims. In re Robert Buckhalter and Pepsi-Cola General Bottlers, Inc., 7 Ill. HRC Rep. 102 (1982). This decision was affirmed by the full HRC in November, 1982. 7 HRC Rep. 96 (1982).

On February 24, 1983, plaintiff requested a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC. This letter was obtained on March 7, 1983. On May 22, 1983, plaintiff filed the instant suit under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1981.

In the instant suit, the plaintiff makes the same claims against the defendants as were considered and decided upon by the HRC. Thus, claiming that the instant suit is barred by the res judicata effect of the administrative decision, defendants have moved for summary judgment.*fn2 For the reasons stated herein, defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted.

DISCUSSION

  The central issue in this case is whether a decision of the
full Illinois Human Rights Commission precludes a subsequent
action in federal court concerning identical claims and
issues. In United States v. Utah Construction & Mining Co.,
384 U.S. 394, 86 S.Ct. 1545, 16 L.Ed.2d 642 (1966), the Supreme
Court held that res judicata applies to the findings of an
administrative tribunal if the tribunal:

   . . is acting in a judicial capacity and
  resolves disputed issues of fact properly before
  it which the parties . . . had adequate
  opportunity to litigate . . . [in that] both
  parties had a full and fair opportunity to argue
  their version of the facts and an opportunity to
  seek court review of any adverse findings.

Id. at 422, 86 S.Ct. at 1560.

In specifically addressing a case brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, the Seventh Circuit added:

  The Supreme Court has also made it clear that
  issues of fact determined by an administrative
  agency acting in a judicial capacity may
  collaterally estop future ...

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