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RASH v. MINORITY INTERMODAL SPECIALISTS

March 19, 2003

FREDERICK RASH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MINORITY INTERMODAL SPECIALISTS, INC. (T.V. MINORITY COMPANY, INC), THEODORE VANCE, STEPHEN FOLEY, FCS INDUSTRIES, INC. AND RICHARD KLEIN, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, United States District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Defendants Minority Intermodal Specialists, Inc. ("MIS"), Theodore Vance, Stephen Foley, ECS Industries, Inc. and Richard Klein ("Defendants") have moved for summary judgment on pro se plaintiff Frederick Rash's claims. For the reasons discussed below, the motion for summary judgment is granted.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is proper when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A genuine issue of triable fact exists only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Pugh v. City of Attica, 259 F.3d 619, 625 (7th Cir. 2001) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)).

The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The party that bears the burden of proof on a particular issue, however, may not rest on its pleadings but must affirmatively demonstrate that there is a genuine issue of material fact. Id. at 324, 106 S.Ct. at 2553. A mere scintilla of evidence in support of the non-movant's position is insufficient. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252, 106 S.Ct. at 2512. A party will be successful in opposing summary judgment only if it presents "definite, competent evidence to rebut the motion." EEOC v. Roebuck & Co., 233 F.3d 432, 437 (7th Cir. 2000).

The Court "considers the evidentiary record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and draws all reasonable inferences in his favor." Lesch v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 282 F.3d 467, 471 (7th Cir. 2002). The Court accepts the non-moving party's version of any disputed facts but only if it is supported by relevant, admissible evidence. Bombard v. Fort Wayne Newspapers, Inc., 92 F.3d 560, 562 (7th Cir. 1996).

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Frederick Rash, an African-American, was employed by MIS from July 1997 to October 1998. (See R. 74-1, Pl.'s Supp. LR 56.1(b)(3)(A) Resp., ¶ I.) Defendant MIS is a contractor that formerly performed intermodal handling of Ford automobiles at the Torrence Avenue plant in Chicago, Illinois. (Id. ¶ 2.) Defendants Theodore Vance and Richard Klein are apparently affiliated with MIS. (Id. ¶¶ 9-10.) Defendant Stephen Foley is an attorney who has represented MIS. (Id. ¶ 12.)

Mr. Rash was hired by MIS in July 1997 as a data administrator. (See R. 74-1, Pl.'s Supp. LR 56.1(b)(3)(A) Resp., ¶ 3.) During 1997 and part of 1998, Mr. Rash worked under manager Mike Gibbs, who is white. (Id. ¶ 4.) Mr. Rash worked as a clerk and, for a time, as a trainer and a liaison with Norfolk Southern Railway. (Id. ¶ 3; Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Statement, Rash Dep. at p.11.) Typically, MIS managers were salaried employees, and MIS clerks, like Mr. Rash, were hourly employees. (Id. at p. 60.) In October 1998, Mr. Rash was terminated, along with all other MIS employees in Chicago, when MIS lost a contract relating to Ford automobiles. (Id. ¶ 12.)

After Mr. Rash was terminated, he filed a wage complaint with the federal government relating to his 1997 overtime, a wage complaint with the State of Illinois relating to his 1998 overtime, and a second wage complaint with the State of Illinois relating to his last paycheck from MIS and his retroactive pay. (See R. 74-1, Pl.'s Supp. LR 56.1(b)(3)(A) Resp., ¶¶ 6-8.) For his 1997 overtime claim, Mr. Rash dealt with the U.S. Department of Labor, not MIS, and he received half his claimed overtime pay which amounted to $639.38. (Id. ¶ 7.) For his 1998 overtime claim, Mr. Rash reached a settlement agreement with MIS and received $4,069.34. (Id. ¶ 8.) Finally, for his claim relating to his last paycheck from MIS and his retroactive pay, Mr. Rash reached a settlement agreement with MIS and received $527.00. (Id. ¶ 6.)

On October 13, 2000, Mr. Rash filed his original complaint naming MIS, the United States Department of Labor, the State of Illinois Department of Labor, and Theodore Vance. Judge Andersen dismissed Mr. Rash's claims against the United States Department of Labor and the Illinois Department of Labor. See Rash v. Minority Intermodal Specialists, Inc., No. 00 C 6352, 2001 WL 243402 (N.D.Ill. March 12, 2001) ("Rash I").

Mr. Rash then filed an Amended Complaint, adding defendants Stephen Foley, ECS Industries, Richard Klein, Dennis McInerney, Stanley Paulauskas, Mr. Lloyd, Robert Healy, James Yuill, Claudia Manley, Suzanne Davis, DMC, Boyd Dickens, Norfolk, and Dee Smith. On June 14, 2001, Judge Andersen dismissed Mr. Rash's claims against Robert Healy, Suzanne Davis, Claudia Manley, James Yuill, the Illinois Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Labor, Dennis McInerney, Stanley Paulauskas and Lloyd Hill. (See R. 35-1, June 14, 2001 Order.) Later, Judge Andersen dismissed Mr. Rash's claims against DMC, Boyd Dickens, Norfolk, and Dee Smith. See Rash v. Minority Intermodal Specialists, Inc., No. 00 C 6352, 2001 WL 1654710 (N.D.Ill. December 20, 2001) ("Rash II").

As it stands, Mr. Rash has claims against MIS, Theodore Vance, Stephen Foley, FCS Industries, and Richard Klein under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, 42 U.S.C. § 1982, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 42 U.S.C. § 1985, 42 U.S.C. § 1986, 42 U.S.C § 1988, 42 U.S.C § 2000a, the Ninth Amendment, the Thirteenth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, Title VII, ERISA, the Illinois Human Rights Act, common law libel and slander, common law breach of contract, conspiracy, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and the Illinois Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act. Defendants have moved for summary judgment on all these claims.

ANALYSIS

I. PLAINTIFF'S WAGE CLAIMS

In his Amended Complaint, Mr. Rash seeks redress against MIS for overtime pay, retroactive pay, and discrimination under the Fair Pay Act. (See R. 3 1-1, Pl.'s Am. Complaint, ¶¶ 1-3.) As Defendants point out, however, Mr. Rash has already obtained redress for his wage complaints against MIS. Mr. Rash received settlements in connection with his wage complaint with the federal government relating to his 1997 overtime (see R. 74-I, Pl.'s Supp. LR 56.1(b)(3)(A) Resp., ¶ 7), his wage complaint with the State of Illinois relating to his 1998 overtime (see id. ¶ 8), and his wage complaint with the State of Illinois relating to his last paycheck from MIS and his retroactive pay. (Id. ¶ 6.) Thus, Mr. Rash's wage claims are barred by res judicata (also referred to as claim preclusion) and collateral estoppel (also referred to as issue preclusion).

For res judicata to apply, three requirements must be met: (1) an identity of the parties; (2) an identity of the causes of actions; and (3)a final judgment on the merits. See Matter of Energy Co-op., Inc., 814 F.2d 1226, 1230 (7th Cir. 1987). All three elements are satisfied here. First, Mr. Rash's federal and state wage claims involved the parties — namely, him and MIS. Second, Mr. Rash's federal and state wage claims raised the issues of overtime, retroactive pay, and his last paycheck, the same issues he raises with his wage claims in this lawsuit. Third, Mr. Rash's federal and state wage claims each reached a final judgment on the merits pursuant to settlement agreements. Accordingly, Mr. Rash's wage claims are barred by res judicata.

For collateral estoppel to apply, four requirements must be met: (1) the issue that one party seeks to preclude must be identical to an issue involved in the prior action; (2) the issue must have been actually litigated in the prior action; (3) determination of the issue must have been essential to the final judgment in the prior action; and (4) the party precluded from relitigating the issue must have been represented in the prior action. See Chicago Truck Drivers v. Century Motor Freight, Inc., 125 F.3d 526, 530 (7th Cir. 1997). All four elements are satisfied here. First, the issues relating to Mr.Rash's wage claims in this lawsuit are the same as in his federal and state wage claims. Second, Mr.Rash's claims were litigated in his federal and state wage claims. Third, the resolution of the overtime, retroactive pay and last check ...


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