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GARRETT v. CITY OF MARKHAM

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois


November 16, 2004.

Garrett
v.
City of Markham.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES ZAGEL, District Judge

MOTION TO DISMISS

Leonard Garrett first sued the City of Markham, its Mayor and the Chief of Police in May, 2002 in the Circuit Court of Cook County alleging violations of his constitutional and civil rights, conspiracy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Circuit Judge Kathy Flanagan dismissed Mr. Garrett's complaint with prejudice, finding that the complaint lacked the factual allegations necessary to state a cause of action and that it was not well-grounded in either fact or law despite multiple instructions from the court regarding the standards for stating a valid claim. In April, 2003, Mr. Garrett filed an amended complaint (the "Second Complaint") based on the same factual circumstances in federal court. I dismissed that complaint on July 29, 2003, stating:

The plaintiff's complaint, which is, in many respects, confused and difficult to comprehend, is hereby dismissed because: (1) it fails to state a claim under Monell; (2) the matters alleged are barred by res judicata; and (3) the claims are barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Beyond the purely formalistic and much delayed claim of "ongoing violation," this case is nothing more than an attempt to rehash a case which was decided in state court. Even assuming the vague "ongoing violation" is pled, the claim fails under Monell.
Garrett v. City of Markham, No. 02 C 4537 (N.D. Ill. July 29, 2003).

Ten days before I issued that decision, Mr. Garrett filed yet another suit against the City of Markham. Mr. Garrett's amended complaint (the "Third Complaint"), filed September 19, 2003, alleges violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, violations of his constitutional rights, and — for the first time — violations of § 201 of the RICO Act. The Defendant has filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) arguing that the entire complaint is barred by the doctrine of res judicata and that his RICO-based claims are also barred as a matter of law.

  In the federal courts, res judicata bars litigation when: 1) there is an identity in the causes of actions; 2) there is identity of the parties or their privies; and 3) there has been a final judgment on the merits. Golden v. Barenborg, 53 F.3d 866, 869 (7th Cir. 1995). A cause of action consists of a "`single core of operative facts' which give rise to a remedy." Id. (citations omitted). A careful comparison of the somewhat confusing allegations contained in the Second and Third Complaints reveals that both are grounded in the same set of facts and circumstances. Specifically, the Third Complaint alleges a series of interactions (or lack thereof) with Markham police officers, city officials and a city Alderman that range from extortion and attempted bribery, failure of the police to protect Mr. Garrett and his business or respond to his 911 emergency calls, illegal searches of his property, illegal arrest, trespass, threats, illegal seizure of business signs, the illegal condemnation of Mr. Garrett's property, and several first amendment violations. Each of these allegations was raised in the Second Complaint dismissed on July 29, 2003. Given that the parties in both complaints are identical and that Judge Flanagan reached a final judgment on the merits in Mr. Garrett's state suit challenging the same conduct, res judicata again bars Mr. Garrett's non-RICO claims.

  The doctrine of res judicata not only prevents parties from litigating matters that have been raised and decided in a prior suit, but from litigating matters that could have been raised in the earlier suit. Id. at 869-70. The only apparent addition to Mr. Garrett's Third Complaint is his claim that the RICO statute provides a cause of action for this suit. Mr. Garrett cites to "(Rico) Act sec. 201" in paragraphs 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13,14, 15, 16 and 18 of the Third Complaint.*fn1 The facts alleged in each of these paragraphs arise from the same facts alleged in his prior suit. See, e.g., ¶¶ 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and Count III, Pl. Am. Compl. 2002. Mr. Garrett should have raised RICO as a potential ground for relief in his prior complaint. See Golden, 53 F.3d at 870. Therefore, the alleged RICO claims, which stem from the same "single core of operative facts" are barred by res judicata, assuming the claims had some legitimate basis in the law, which on their face, they do not.

  For these reasons, Mr. Garrett's suit is once again dismissed with prejudice. I suspect that this decision will not end Mr. Garrett's efforts to gain access to this court in order to litigate issues arising from events identified in each of his prior complaints. Mr. Garrett is hereby warned that his actions in filing the present suit — and likely any subsequent suit based on the same "operative facts" identified in his previous complaints — may very well expose him to sanctions, including costs and attorneys' fees.


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