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Green v. Benden

February 21, 2002

THEOPHILUS GREEN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MARY ANN BENDEN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 99 C 6002--Wayne R. Andersen, Judge.

Before Fairchild, Diane P. Wood, and Williams, Circuit Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Williams, Circuit Judge.

Submitted December 14, 2001

Theophilus Green sued under 42 U.S.C. sec.sec. 1981 and 1983, alleging that the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation ("DPR") and two DPR attorneys (collectively, the "Illinois Defendants") violated his rights to due process and equal protection in bringing administrative disciplinary proceedings against him to suspend his clinical psychologist's license. Dr. Green also asserted a claim under 42 U.S.C. sec. 1985 for civil conspiracy against the DPR and Health Care Service Corporation ("HCSC"). The district court dismissed some of Dr. Green's claims and granted summary judgment to the defendants on the remaining claims. Dr. Green appeals, and we affirm in part and vacate in part.

I. Factual Background

Dr. Green, an African American, received a degree in clinical psychology in 1982 and from then until 1989 practiced clinical psychology in Illinois without a license. In 1990 Dr. Green passed the Illinois clinical psychologist's examination and obtained a license.

In 1996 the DPR instituted disciplinary proceedings against Dr. Green, alleging that he had violated Illinois law by practicing clinical psychology without a license and by making false statements on another psychologist's licensing application forms. After a hearing the DPR's disciplinary board suspended Dr. Green's license for a minimum of two years and imposed various conditions on its reinstatement. The disciplinary board also barred Dr. Green from supervising prospective licensees as long as his license was suspended and fined him $8,000. Thereafter, HCSC, which required psychologists to be licensed as a prerequisite to reimbursement, ceased all payments to Dr. Green for services that he rendered to its insureds.

Dr. Green sought administrative review in state court; the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, upheld the suspension but vacated the fine. Dr. Green appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court.

Dr. Green's state-court appeal was still pending when in September 1999 he filed this lawsuit. Dr. Green alleged that the Illinois Defendants violated his rights to due process and equal protection by targeting him for disciplinary action based on his race and in retaliation for his testimony in another disciplinary hearing that was favorable to the psychologist under investigation. Dr. Green further alleged that HCSC and the DPR had conspired "to deny [him] the opportunity to . . . practice his profession" based on his race because HCSC (1) refused to reimburse him for services he rendered to its insureds, and (2) provided his patients' confidential medical reports and other unspecified information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in response to grand jury subpoenas. Dr. Green also asserted claims against the Wisconsin Department of Professional Regulation and certain of its representatives, but those claims are not a part of this appeal. Dr. Green sought a declaration that the DPR disciplinary proceedings were illegal and an award of damages. In November 1999 Dr. Green also sought a preliminary injunction ordering the DPR to restore his license.

II. The District Court Proceedings

In April 2000 the district court denied Dr. Green's request for injunctive relief. The court concluded that Dr. Green had not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits because he presented no evidence that the DPR proceedings were racially motivated.

In September the court entered orders dismissing some of Dr. Green's claims and granting summary judgment to the defendants on the remaining claims. Specifically, the court dismissed the entire suit against the DPR and its attorneys in their official capacities, concluding that they were immune under the Eleventh Amendment of the United States Constitution. The court granted summary judgment in favor of HCSC as to the civil conspiracy claim, concluding that Dr. Green presented no evidence that HCSC's actions were motivated by racial animus. Finally, the court granted summary judgment to the DPR attorneys in their individual capacities, a ruling that Dr. Green does not challenge on appeal.

In January 2001 the district court entered a partial judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) as to HCSC. Dr. Green timely filed a notice of appeal, which was assigned docket number 01-1328. In June 2001 the district court entered a partial judgment under Rule 54(b) as to the Illinois Defendants. Dr. Green timely filed a notice of ...


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