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CARVER v. NALL
December 5, 1997
KATHY CARVER AND FRED H. KIENTZLE, PLAINTIFFS,
SHERIFF ROBERT NALL, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; CHIEF DEPUTY JON MCCOY, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; KELLY DEAVER, CHAIRMAN OF THE ADAMS COUNTY MERIT COMMISSION, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; JOE HAUBRICH, VICE-CHAIRMAN OF THE ADAMS COUNTY MERIT COMMISSION, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; SCOTT TUTT, SECRETARY OF THE ADAMS COUNTY MERIT COMMISSION, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; WILLIAM PHILLIPS, BOARD MEMBER OF THE ADAMS COUNTY MERIT COMMISSION, IN HIS AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY, RON SPARKS, BOARD MEMBER OF THE ADAMS COUNTY MERIT COMMISSION, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mills, District Judge.
A settlement agreement was reached in a suit before the
Illinois State Labor Relations Board.
Does res judicata bar this federal suit?
I. FACTS ALLEGED IN THE COMPLAINT
Plaintiffs allege that Defendants suspended them in violation
of their Fourteenth Amendment right to procedural due process.
At the time of their suspension, Plaintiffs were Deputy
Sheriffs for Adams County, Illinois. Defendants suspended
Plaintiff Kathy Carver without pay for ten working days.
Defendants suspended Plaintiff Fred H. Kientzle without pay for
three working days. Neither Plaintiff received a pre-suspension
hearing, nor were they given an opportunity to respond to the
allegations made against them. Although both Plaintiffs asked
for a post-suspension hearing, neither, was granted one.
Accordingly, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants violated their
Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process rights.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) allows for the filing
of a motion for judgment on the pleadings at any time after the
pleadings are closed. Rule 12(c) may be used in two ways.
First, Rule 12(c) may be used "after the close of the pleadings
to raise various rule 12(b) defenses regarding procedural
defects, in which case courts apply the same standard
applicable to the corresponding 12(b) motion." Alexander v.
City of Chicago, 994 F.2d 333, 336 (7th Cir. 1993); Thomason v.
Nachtrieb, 888 F.2d 1202, 1204 (7th Cir. 1989). Thus, all
well-pleaded allegations of the complaint are accepted as true,
and all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the
non-moving party. Travel All Over The World, Inc. v. Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia, 73 F.3d 1423, 1429 (7th Cir. 1996). "Dismissal is
proper only where it appears beyond a doubt that the plaintiffs
can prove no set of facts in support of their claims that would
entitle them to relief." Id. at 1429-30.
Second, Rule 12(c) may be used to dispose of the case based
upon the underlying substantive merits. Alexander, 994 F.2d at
336. For this second use, "the appropriate standard is that
applicable to summary judgment, except that the court may
consider only the contents of the pleadings."*fn1 Id. All of
the non-moving party's well-pleaded allegations are taken as
true, and all facts and inferences are viewed in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Id.; Republic Steel Corp. v.
Pennsylvania Eng'g Corp., 785 F.2d 174, 177 n. 2 (7th Cir.
Therefore, judgment on the pleadings will not be granted
unless "no genuine issues of material fact remain to be
resolved and unless the [moving party] is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law." Alexander, 994 F.2d at 336; National
Fidelity Life Ins. Co. v. Karaganis, 811 F.2d 357, 358 (7th
Cir. 1987). "For purposes of determining whether a material
issue of fact exists, uncontested allegations to which a party
had an opportunity to respond are taken as true." Flora v. Home
Federal Savings and Loan Ass'n, 685 F.2d 209, 211 (7th Cir.
Defendants assert that in addition to the above-captioned
case, a complaint was filed with the Illinois State Labor
Relation; Board, case number S-CA-96-132, against Defendant
Sheriff Robert Nall. Defendants claim that the suit before the
Illinois State Labor Relations Board was based upon the same
facts and events which gave rise to the instant suit. Recently,
a settlement agreement was reached in the case before the
Illinois State Labor Relations Board whereby Plaintiff Kientzle
received three days worth of back pay and his three day
suspension was removed from his personnel file. Likewise,
pursuant to the settlement agreement, Plaintiff Carver's ten
day suspension was reduced to three days for the use of
inappropriate language, and she received ten days worth of back
pay. Also contained within the settlement agreement was a
paragraph whereby Plaintiffs expressly waived any and all other
claims arising from these disciplinary proceedings.
Accordingly, Defendants tender two arguments in support of
their motion for judgment on the pleadings. First, Defendants
argue that Plaintiffs' cause of action in the present case is
barred by the doctrines of issue and/or claim preclusion.
Second, Defendants assert that Plaintiffs' claims are barred by
the release contained within the ...