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CARVER v. NALL

December 5, 1997

KATHY CARVER AND FRED H. KIENTZLE, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
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.

    OPINION

A settlement agreement was reached in a suit before the Illinois State Labor Relations Board.

Does res judicata bar this federal suit?

Yes.

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.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

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. 1986).

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. 1932).

III. ANALYSIS

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 ...


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