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 settlement agreement reached
in the matter before the Illinois State Labor Relations
A. ISSUE AND CLAIM PRECLUSION*fn3
The Full Faith and Credit Act provides that the "judicial
proceedings" of any State "shall have the same full faith and
credit in every court within the United States and its
Territories and Possessions as they have by law or usage in the
courts of such State." 28 U.S.C. § 1738. The United States
Supreme Court has held that the Full Faith and Credit Act
"directs all courts to treat a state court judgment with the
same respect that it would receive in the courts of the
rendering state." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd.,
516 U.S. 367, 371, 116 S.Ct. 873, 877, 134 L.Ed.2d 6 (1996). In
addition, federal courts must accept the state's rules which
issued the judgment for determining the effect of the judgment.
Id., quoting Kremer v. Chem. Constr. Corp., 456 U.S. 461,
481-82, 102 S.Ct. 1883, 1897-98, 72 L.Ed.2d 262 (1982). "The
fact that a judgment incorporates the results of a settlement,
rather than being the result of full litigation on the merits,
makes no difference for the application of § 1738." Majeske v.
of Police, Lodge No. 7, 94 F.3d 307, 312 (7th Cir. 1996).
Finally, the Full Faith and Credit Act may apply even if the
state court judgment works to bar litigation of an exclusively
federal claim. Id.; Marrese v. Am. Academy of Orthopaedic
Surgeons, 470 U.S. 373, 380, 105 S.Ct. 1327, 1331, 84 L.Ed.2d
Accordingly, the Court must apply Illinois' res judicata
rules in the case at bar. In Illinois, for the doctrine of res
judicata to bar subsequent actions, three essential elements
must be established: "(1) there must be a final judgment on the
merits rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction; (2) an
identity of causes of action; and (3) an identity of parties or
their privies." Leow v. A & B Freight Line, Inc., 175 Ill.2d 176,
180, 222 Ill.Dec. 80, 81-82, 676 N.E.2d 1284, 1285-86
(1997); People ex rel. Burris v. Progressive Land Developers,
Inc., 151 Ill.2d 285, 294, 176 Ill.Dec. 874, 879,
602 N.E.2d 820, 825 (1992). The party asserting the applicability of res
judicata has the burden of establishing each of these elements.
Rooding v. Peters, 92 F.3d 578, 580 (7th Cir. 1996); Torcasso
v. Standard Outdoor Sales, Inc., 157 Ill.2d 484, 491, 193
Ill.Dec. 192, 195-96, 626 N.E.2d 225, 228-29 (1993).
Plaintiffs do not challenge the first element, and rightfully
so. Illinois applies the principles of res judicata to
administrative proceedings which are judicial in nature.
Majeske, 94 F.3d at 313; Osborne v. Kelly, 207 Ill. App.3d 488,
491, 152 Ill.Dec. 422, 424, 565 N.E.2d 1340, 1342 (1991);
Rhodes v. St. Charles, Mfg. Co., 149 Ill. App.3d 821, 823, 103
Ill.Dec. 36, 37, 500 N.E.2d 1107, 1108 (1986). Here, a
settlement was reached in an administrative proceeding which
was judicial in nature, i.e., an action before the Illinois
State Labor Relations Board. As stated above, the fact that a
settlement agreement was reached rather than litigating the
issues is of no consequence. Majeske, 94 F.3d at 312.
Accordingly, Defendants have established the first essential
element to sustain their claim of res judicata.
Plaintiffs do argue, however, that Defendants have failed to
establish an identity of causes of action. Plaintiffs assert
that the suit before the Illinois State Labor Relations Board
simply addressed the allegations of Defendant Sheriff Nall's
unfair labor practices. Plaintiffs claim that this is "a far
cry" from the allegations made in the above-captioned case. In
addition, Plaintiffs assert that in this case, they are asking
for relief that the Illinois State Labor Relations Board could
not grant, i.e., injunctive relief and attorney's fees. Thus,
Plaintiffs argue that Defendants have failed to establish the
second essential element to a claim of res judicata.
Illinois courts have developed two tests for determining what
constitutes a "cause of action" for res judicata purposes.
Hagee v. City of Evanston, 729 F.2d 510, 512-13 (7th Cir.
1984). The first test requires a court to determine if the two
suits involve the same proof or the same evidence to sustain
both causes of action. LaSalle Nat'l Bank of Chicago v. County
of DuPage, 856 F.2d 925, 931 (7th Cir. 1988), quoting Hagee,
729 F.2d at 512-13. The second test requires a court to
determine whether the two suits arise from the same
transaction, incident, or factual situation. Id. Although
Illinois appellate courts have invoked both tests, "[r]ecently,
the Supreme Court of Illinois appeared to opt for the `same
evidence' test, in Torcasso v. Standard Outdoor Sales,
157 Ill.2d 484, 491, 193 Ill.Dec. 192, 195, 626 N.E.2d 225, 228
(1993)." Majeske, 94 F.3d at 313.
The outcome in the case at bar is the same under either the
same "evidence approach" or the "same transaction" approach. It
is clear that the two cases involve the same cause of action
under the "same transaction" approach. Both the union's suit
before the Illinois State Labor Relations Board and Plaintiffs'
federal suit arose out of the "same operative facts which give
rise to the assertion of relief", i.e., Plaintiffs' alleged
actions which formed the basis of their suspensions. LaSalle,
856 F.2d at 931, quoting Hagee, 729 F.2d at 513. Thus, under
the "same transaction" approach, Defendants have established an
identity of causes of action.
Although the issue is a closer question under the "same
evidence" approach, the Court finds that there is an identity
of action under this approach as well. The veracity of the
allegations which formed the basis of Plaintiffs' suspensions,
the assertions that Plaintiffs were denied pre and
post-deprivation hearings, and the appropriateness of
Plaintiffs' suspension would all be key issues to be determined
in both the state and federal proceedings. Majeske, 94 F.3d at
313-14. Thus, under the "same evidence" approach, Defendants
have established an identity of causes of action.
The fact that Plaintiffs seek relief in the present case
which the Illinois State Labor Relations Board could not grant
is an insufficient basis to allow this case to proceed.
Plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief and for attorney's
fees are the equivalent of a change of legal theories.*fn4 "A
mere change in legal theory does not create a new cause of
action." Car Carriers, Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 789 F.2d 589,
593 (7th Cir. 1986), quoting Alexander v. Chicago Park Dist.,
773 F.2d 850, 854 (7th Cir. 1985).
Furthermore, "[r]es judicata . . . operates not only as a bar
to the further litigation of matters decided in the prior
action, but also to any issues which could have been raised."
Roboserve, Inc. v. Kato Kagaku Co., 121 F.3d 1027, 1034 (7th
Cir. 1997), quoting Golden v. Barenborg, 53 F.3d 866, 869-70
(7th Cir. 1995); Retired Chicago Police Ass'n v. City of
Chicago, 7 F.3d 584, 591-92 (7th Cir. 1993). Because Plaintiffs
could have raised the issue of their denial to a pre and
post-deprivation hearing to the Illinois State Labor Relations
Board, their claim in the instant case is barred by the
doctrine of res judicata. Therefore, Defendants have
established the second essential element to sustain their claim
of res judicata.
Finally, Plaintiffs argue that Defendants have failed to
establish an identity of parties. Plaintiffs assert that there
is no identity of parties because it was the union, and not
them, who brought the suit before the Illinois State Labor
Relations Board. Moreover, the defendant in the Illinois State
Labor Relations Board case was Sheriff Nall alone. In the
instant case, Plaintiffs have sued Chief Deputy McCoy and the
Commissions of the Adams County Merit Commission in addition to
Sheriff Nall. Thus, Plaintiffs claim that there is no identity
of parties between the two cases.
The res judicata rule in Illinois requires an identity of
parties or their privies. Leow, 175 Ill.2d at 180, 676 N.E.2d
at 1285-86, 222 Ill.Dec. at 81-82; Progressive Land Developers,
151 Ill.2d at 294, 602 N.E.2d at 825, 176 Ill.Dec. at 879
(emphasis added). Some Illinois appellate courts have opined
that privity exists between "parties who adequately represent
the same legal interest." Donovan v. Estate of Fitzsimmons,
778 F.2d 298, 301 (7th Cir. 1985). Other Illinois appellate courts
have relied upon the Restatements' definition of privity which
Privity is a word which expresses the idea that as
to certain matters and in certain circumstances
persons who are not parties to an action but who
are connected with it in their interests are
affected by the judgment with reference to
interests involved in the action, as if they were
Restatement of Judgments § 83, Comment a, at 389 (1942).
In the present case, the Court finds that there is an
identity of parties. "Members of a collective bargaining unit
are privies to a union when the union brings an action on their
behalf, and thus are barred from bringing the same cause of
action." Merk v. Jewel Food Stores Div., 702 F. Supp. 1391, 1398
(N.D.Ill. 1988) International Union, United Auto., Aerospace
and Agric. Implement Workers of Am., UAW v. ACME Precision
Prods., Inc., 515 F. Supp. 537 (E.D.Mich. 1981); Ailor v.
Pension Benefit Guar. Corp., 7 F.3d 238, 1993 WL 384857, * 3
(7th Cir. Sept. 30, 1993). Here, Plaintiffs' union brought the
suit before the Illinois State Labor Relations Board on their
behalf, and therefore, Plaintiffs are in privity with the union
for res judicata purposes.
Furthermore, the identity requirement of the doctrine of
res judicata is satisfied as long as the party against whom
estoppel is to be applied is identical. In re Marriage of
Donnellan, 90 Ill. App.3d 1032, 1035-36, 46 Ill.Dec. 445,
448-49, 414 N.E.2d 167, 170-71 (1980); Drabik v. Lawn Manor
Savings and Loan Ass'n, 65 Ill. App.3d 272, 277, 22 Ill.Dec.
13, 16, 382 N.E.2d 333, 336 (1978); Rolando v. Farmers and
Miners Bank of Ladd, 60 Ill. App.3d 158, 161-62, 17 Ill.Dec.
614, 617, 376 N.E.2d 760, 763 (1978). Therefore, the fact that
additional Defendants have been added to the instant suit which
were not included in the state matter is of no consequence. The
doctrine of res judicata is being asserted against Plaintiffs
(not Defendants), and Plaintiffs had an opportunity, through
their privy with the union, to litigate the issues raised in
the present case at the Illinois State Labor Relations Board.
Thus, Defendants have established the third essential element
to sustain their claim of res judicata.
Accordingly, the Court finds that the case sub judice is
barred by the doctrine of res judicata.
Because the Court has found that Plaintiffs' claims are
barred by the doctrine of res judicata, the Court need not
determine whether the release contained within the settlement
agreement reached in the case before the Illinois State Labor
Relations Board results in a waiver of the claims brought by
Plaintiffs in the instant case.
Ergo, Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings is
ALLOWED. Accordingly, this case is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE and
with costs as to both Plaintiffs and as to all Counts of the