United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
November 16, 2004.
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,
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.