The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVID COAR, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff United Parcel Service, Inc. ("UPS") has filed a
complaint against defendant Thomas G. Pennie ("Pennie") pursuant
to the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201, et seq.
("the DJA"). In it, UPS requests a determination that Pennie is
estopped by his wage differential settlement with UPS under §
8(d)(1) of the Illinois Workers Compensation Act, 820 ILCS 305/1,
et seq. ("the IWCA"), from asserting any right to resume
employment with UPS.
Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, Pennie has moved to dismiss the complaint on several
grounds. For the reasons set forth below, this court grants
Pennie's motion to dismiss and dismisses UPS's complaint.
I. Standards on a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss
"The purpose of a motion to dismiss is to test the sufficiency
of the complaint, not to decide the merits." Triad Assocs., Inc.
v. Chicago Hous. Auth., 892 F.2d 583, 586 (7th Cir. 1989).
In reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim,
the court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts in the complaint and draws all reasonable
inferences therefrom in favor of the plaintiff. See Ameritech
Corp. v. McCann, 297 F.3d 582, 585 (7th Cir. 2002). A
complaint should be dismissed only if there is no set of facts in
support of the claim that would entitle the plaintiff to relief.
See Ledford v. Sullivan, 105 F.3d 354, 356 (7th Cir. 1997).
UPS is an Ohio corporation with its principal place of business
in Atlanta, Georgia. Pennie is an individual and a citizen of
Illinois. In the complaint, UPS alleges that this court has
subject matter jurisdiction on the basis of the parties' diverse
citizenship and its contention that the amount in controversy
In 2001 and 2002, Pennie asserted various claims against UPS at
the Illinois Industrial Commission ("ICC"), pursuant to the IWCA.
The claims were based upon alleged injuries that occurred in the
course and scope of Pennie's employment with UPS. On January 30,
2002, a functional capacity evaluation ("FCE") was conducted, and
a written report was generated ("FCE report"). The FCE report
identified certain physical limitations and work restrictions
resulting from Pennie's on-the-job injuries.
On May 3, 2003, Pennie's attorney sent a letter to UPS's
insurance carrier requesting $214,375.60 based upon Pennie's wage
differential claim. This request was premised upon Pennie's
alleged work restrictions and his allegation that UPS did not
wish to accommodate those restrictions. Subsequently, UPS
assented to a wage differential settlement with Pennie pursuant
to section 8(d)(1) of the IWCA. The settlement agreement provided
for Pennie to receive an immediate cash payment of $85,000 and periodic
payments of $3,300 per year for ten years (totaling $112,314 in
payments to Pennie). The agreement also stated that the
settlement "includes all claims for benefits past, present, and
future under Section 8(d)(1)" of the IWCA. (Cmplt., Exh. D). On
or about May 15, 2003, the ICC approved the settlement agreement,
and UPS subsequently paid the full settlement amount to Pennie.
The same month, Pennie "demanded" reinstatement to his prior
position with UPS, asserting that he was under no disability or
restriction and was capable of holding the position. (Cmplt., ¶
11). Approximately six months later, in November 2003, UPS filed
the instant action, seeking a declaratory judgment under the DJA.
Specifically, UPS contends that Pennie's alleged acquiescence in
UPS's wish not to accommodate his work restrictions (through his
request for a settlement), his assertion of a wage differential
claim under section 8(d)(1) of the IWCA, and his acceptance of
$112,000 in satisfaction and settlement of his claim estop him
from asserting any right to resume employment with UPS, and,
particularly, in either his former position or any job whose
demands exceed the restrictions identified in the FCE report.
Along these lines, UPS seeks a determination and adjudication of
the rights and obligations of the parties vis a vis the section
8(d)(1) settlement agreement.
Pennie bases his Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss upon several
arguments. He contends that dismissal is appropriate because: (1)
UPS has failed to adequately allege an actual case in
controversy, injury in fact, or legally recognized interest; (2)
UPS has failed to adequately allege the necessary elements of
judicial estoppel; and (3) UPS's claim is not ripe.
The DJA provides that, in "a case of actual controversy,"
federal courts "may declare rights and other legal relationships of any interested parties
. . . whether or not further relief is or could be sought."
28 U.S.C. § 2201(a). The purpose of the DJA is "to avoid accrual of
avoidable damages to one not certain of his rights and to afford
him an early adjudication, without waiting until his adversary
should see fit to begin suit, after damage had accrued." Nucor
Corp. v. Aceros y Maquilas de Occidente, S.A. de C.V.,
28 F.3d 572, 577 (7th Cir. 1994) (internal quotations and citations
"Declaratory judgment actions serve an important role in our
legal system insofar as they permit prompt settlement of actual
controversies and establish the legal rights and obligations that
will govern the parties' relationship in the future." Hyatt Intl
Corp. v. Coco, 302 F.3d 707, 711 (7th Cir. 2002).
Critically, the requirement of an "actual controversy" is
contained within the text of the DJA, itself, and it is