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CANNELLA v. CORDELL ENTERPRISES
October 7, 1997
JOSEPH CANNELLA, Plaintiff, -vs- CORDELL ENTERPRISES, Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: LINDBERG
Plaintiff, Joseph Cannella, filed a complaint alleging claims against defendant, Cordell Enterprises, for age discrimination (Count I), wrongful discharge for plaintiff's planning to file a workers' compensation claim (Count II), and intentional infliction of emotional distress resulting from the allegedly wrongful discharge (Count III). Defendant has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. FRCP 12(b)(6).
The Seventh Circuit has said:
Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure says that a complaint must identify the basis of jurisdiction and contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." . . . Complaints should be short and simple, giving the adversary notice while leaving the rest to further documents. . . .
. . . A complaint under rule 8 limns the claim; details of both fact and law come later, in other documents. Instead of asking whether the complaint points to the appropriate statute, a court should ask whether relief is possible under any set of facts that could be established consistent with the allegations. . .
. . . Complaints in a system of notice pleading initiate the litigation but recede into the background as the case progresses. Later documents, such as the pretrial order under Rule 16(e), refine the claim; briefs and memoranda supply the legal arguments that bridge the gap between facts and judgments.
Plaintiffs can plead themselves out of court.
Bartholet v Reishauer A.G. (Zurich), 953 F.2d 1073, 1077-78 (7th Cir 1992). Moreover:
Whether language in a complaint "can be interpreted" as deficient is immaterial. Unlike insurance contracts, complaints are construed favorably to their drafters. . . . Rule 8 establishes a system of notice pleading. A complaint need not narrate all relevant facts or recite the law; all it has to do is set out a claim for relief. . . . Over and over, appellate courts insist that a complaint not be dismissed unless no relief may be granted "under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations." Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73, 104 S. Ct. 2229, 2232, 81 L. Ed. 2d 59 (1984) (emphasis added) . . . .
A plaintiff need not put all of the essential facts in the complaint. He may add them by affidavit or brief--even a brief on appeal.
Hrubec v National Railroad Passenger Corporation, 981 F.2d 962, 963-64 (7th Cir 1992).
Defendant contends that Count II fails to state a claim because:
Although Count II alleges that Cannella was employed by Cordell prior to the injury, Cannella fails to allege that he exercised a right guaranteed by the IWCA [Illinois Workers Compensation Act]. . . . Indeed, Cannella specifically alleges that he "planned to file" a workers' compensation claim. . . . Such an allegation is clearly insufficient to state a claim for retaliatory discharge under the IWCA.
In other words, it is defendant's position that firing a worker because he is going to file a workers compensation claim is not actionable under the IWCA, even though firing that worker for actually filing a workers compensation claim would be actionable. What is more, defendant contends that the Seventh Circuit's opinion in Sweat v Peabody Coal Co., 94 F.3d 301 (7th Cir 1996), supports this proposition.
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