United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
September 30, 2004.
ROBERT BRANDON, Plaintiff,
ROD BLAGOJEVICH, both as Governor of the State of Illinois and individually, and DR. CAROL ADAMS, both as Secretary of Human Services of the State of Illinois and individually Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVID COAR, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Before this Court is Rod Blagojevich and Carol Adams' (known
collectively as "Defendants") motion to dismiss Robert Brandon's
Amended Complaint, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below,
Defendants' motion to dismiss is GRANTED in part and DENIED in
part. Defendants' motion to dismiss all claims against them in
their official capacities is GRANTED. Defendants' motion to
dismiss all claims against them in their individual capacities is
I. Legal Standard for Motion to Dismiss
Pursuant to Fed.R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), a complaint should be
dismissed if the court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter
of the suit. Digiore v. State of Illinois, 962 F.Supp. 1064,
1069 (N.D. Ill. 1997). The plaintiff bears the burden of
establishing that the jurisdictional requirements have been met. Kontos v. United States Dept. of
Labor, 826 F.2d 573, 576 (7th Cir. 1987). When a defendant moves
for dismissal pursuant to Fed.R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), the plaintiff
must support its allegations with competent proof of
jurisdictional facts. Thomson v. Gaskill, 315 U.S. 442, 446
In ruling on a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R. Civ. P.
12(b)(6), the Court "must accept all well pleaded allegations as
true. In addition, the Court must view these allegations in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff." Gomez v. Illinois State
Board of Education, 811 F.2d 1030, 1039 (7th Cir. 1987). A
complaint should not be dismissed "unless it appears beyond doubt
that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his
claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957).
Plaintiff Brandon brings his claims against the Defendants
pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et.
seq. ("FLSA"), and the Portal-to-Portal Act, 29 U.S.C. et.
seq., (Am. Compl., ¶ 1). Plaintiff brings his action on behalf
of himself and all other unnamed Plaintiffs of the class, who are
either present or past salaried employees of the Defendants, and
were designated as Personal Aides (Am. Compl., ¶ 4). Plaintiff
contends that Defendants have compensated members of the
Plaintiff Class, including Brandon, on a "salaried" basis when,
Plaintiff contends, the job duties of the Plaintiff and other
members of the Plaintiff class did not and do not qualify under
any of the exemptions established by the FLSA. (Am. Compl., ¶
11). As such, Brandon contends, he and other members of the
Plaintiff class were and are required to work in excess of forty
hours in a work week, without pay, for those hours over forty at
a rate of one and one-half times their regular hourly rate, pursuant to the
requirements of the FLSA. (Am. Compl., ¶ 12). Brandon presents
his claim in four counts. The first count prays for damages for
Plaintiff and his class at a rate of one and one-half times their
regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours
during any single workweek. (Am. Compl. ¶ 12). The second count
prays for damages for the willful violation of the FLSA, and
alleges that Plaintiff is entitled to unpaid overtime
compensation for all overtime hours worked during the three years
prior to the filing of his complaint. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 13-14). The
third count requests liquidated damages pursuant to
29 U.S.C. 260. (Am. Compl., ¶¶ 12-13). In addition, Brandon presents a
pendent state law claim for an alleged violation of the Illinois
Minimum Wage Law ("IMWL"), pursuant to 820 ILCS Section. 105 et
seq. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 13-18).
Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to
12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Defendants contend that Brandon's claims against them in their
official and individual capacities are only nominally against
them, and the State remains the real, substantial party in
interest. Defendants contend that the State is entitled to
Eleventh Amendment immunity for Plaintiff's claims for
retroactive money damages under the FLSA, the Portal-to-Portal
Act, and his supplemental state law claim under the IMWL. In
addition, Defendants contend, Brandon does not allege that
Blagojevich is or was him employer as required by the FLSA and
IMWL, and because Blagojevich had no personal involvement with
respect to Plaintiff's claims, all claims against him should be
dismissed. Each of Defendants' arguments will be addressed in
turn. A. Are Defendants Entitled to Eleventh Amendment Immunity From
As stated, Defendants contends that although Brandon has named
individual Defendants in his Amended Complaint, his claims are in
essence against the State, and therefore, Defendants contend that
they are entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity from Plaintiff's
suit for retroactive money damages under the FLSA, the
Portal-to-Portal Act and the IMWL.
The Eleventh Amendment bars suits brought by private citizens
against "unconsenting states." Digiore v. State of Illinois,
962 F.Supp. 1064, 1069 (N.D. Ill. 1997) (citing MSA Realty
Corp. v. State of Illinois, 990 F.2d 288, 291 (7th Cir. 1993).
"This immunity protects states from liability regardless of
whether the claims at issue are state law or federal law claims."
Ryan v. State of Illinois. No. 96 C 246, 1996 WL 109699 at *2
(N.D. Ill. 1996).
In a case such as the one before the Court, where state
officials are named defendants, the Court must ask whether "the
state is the real, substantial party in interest." Digiore,
962 F.Supp. at 1069 (quoting Ford Motor Co. v. Department of
Treasury, 323 U.S. 459, 464 (1945). "In practical terms, this
means that private plaintiffs may not sue state officials
requesting money damages or seeking injunctive relief that would
require retroactive payments from the state treasury." Digiore,
962 F.Supp. at 1069 (internal citations omitted)). In addition,
while courts may hear suits that allege federal statutory
violations on the part of state officials, if the individuals are
sued in their official capacities, the court can only issue an
injunction contemplating prospective relief and cannot award
money damages. Id. at 1070 (internal citations omitted). Thus,
plaintiffs can only sue state officials in their individual
capacities, wherein relief is confined to the official's personal
assets. Id. (citing Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159,
165-66). Consequently, a state may be sued in federal court only if it
waives its Eleventh Amendment immunity, thereby consenting to the
suit. Ryan, 1996 WL 109699 at *2 (citing Pennhurst State
School & Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 104 (1984). In
addition, if the state does consent, that consent must be
"unequivocally expressed." Id. There is no indication here that
the State has waived its immunity and consents to be sued in
federal court. Further, while Congress may abrogate a state's
Eleventh Amendment immunity pursuant to section 5 of the
Fourteenth Amendment, See Seminole v. 517 U.S. 44, 59 (1996),
there has been no abrogation of Eleventh Amendment immunity under
the provisions that Plaintiff brings suit. See Digiore,
962 F.Supp. at 1073. Consequently, because Plaintiff cannot sue Rod
Blagojevich and Carol Adams in their official capacities, all
claims against them in the official capacities are dismissed.
B. Does Brandon State a Claim for Relief Against Adams and
Blagojevich, in Their Individual Capacities?
Although the Eleventh Amendment bars suit against state
officials in their official capacities, state officials may still
be sued in their individual capacities. Digiore,
962 F.Supp. at 1078 (citing MSA Realty Corp., 962 F.Supp. at 291). "The
`threshold issue' for determining if the plaintiff has properly
brought a personal-capacity suit is whether the complaint
`clearly claim[s] against the defendant in his individual
capacity.'" Digiore, 962 F.Supp. at 1078 (citing Hardin v.
Straub, 954 F.2d 1193, 1199-2000 (6th Cir. 1992)). Usually, a
plaintiff can meet this requirement by a statement in his
complaint. Id. Next, the Court must determine whom the suit
seeks to hold liable. "If personal assets will satisfy the
judgment, the state is not the real party in interest and the Eleventh Amendment permits suit against the
individual; but if state funds will be tapped, the defendants are
named only nominally as officials and immunity bars the suit."
Digiore, 962 F. Supp. at 1078.
Construing all facts in the light most favorable to the
Plaintiff, Brandon properly states a claim for personal
liability, and his suit against the Defendants, in their
individual capacities, is not barred by the Eleventh Amendment.
In his complaint, Brandon states, "Plaintiff in good faith
believes that any ultimate liability found in his favor or the
favor of other similarly situated current and former employees,
would be capable of being paid by the personal individual
Defendants named herein and that state treasury monies would not
have to [be] drawn upon." Id. (Am. Compl., ¶ 12). Defendant's
arguments that Governor Blagojevich cannot be considered an
employer because he had no personal responsibility for the
Personal Aides program are unavailing at this stage of the
proceedings, as in his Complaint, Brandon does allege that
Blagojevich has personal responsibility, and was directly or
indirectly involved (through his agents) with the implementation
of the program, and thus, can be considered an "employer" for
purposes of the FLSA and IMWL. (See Am. Compl., ¶ 3).
Consequently, Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's claims
against them in their individual capacities is DENIED, as
Brandon's complaint states a claim upon which relief can be
granted. IV. CONCLUSION
For the foregoing reasons, Defendants' motion to dismiss is
GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. The Court grants Defendants'
motion to dismiss all claims against them in their official
capacities and denies the motion to dismiss all claims against
them in their individual capacities.
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