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KORANDA v. CITY OF CHICAGO

August 2, 2005.

JOHN KORANDA, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO AND AS-YET UNKNOWN CHICAGO OFFICIALS Defendants.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff John Koranda ("Koranda"), filed a four-count complaint on March 31, 2005 against defendants City of Chicago and unknown Chicago officials (collectively "the City"), alleging federal civil rights claims for First Amendment retaliation and conspiracy pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law claims for respondeat superior and indemnification. (Dkt. No. 1). The City filed on May 25, 2005 the pending motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for a stay of these proceedings. (Dkt. No. 13). For the reasons set forth below, this court grants the City's May 25, 2005 motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

  In his complaint, John Koranda alleges that he attended a party on June 29, 2003 at 713 West Wrightwood, a three flat apartment building in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. (Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 5). Koranda's brother, Robert Koranda, lived on the second floor of the apartment building and was one of the hosts of the party. (Id.) During the event, the apartment building's multi-story back porch collapsed killing or injuring several of the party-goers. (Id. at ¶ 6). John Koranda survived the porch collapse but his brother Robert was killed. (Id.)

  Robert Koranda's estate filed suit in the Circuit Court of Cook County against a number of defendants including the City of Chicago over Robert Koranda's death. Koranda v. L.G. Prop. Co. et al., 03 L 9791; (Dkt. No. 14 at Ex. A). The estate's lawsuit alleged in part that the Chicago Department of Buildings was understaffed, its employees and agents were untrained and unqualified, and many obtained positions in the department through political patronage. (Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 8). The complaint further alleged that the City's building department failed to properly inspect the porch at 713 West Wrightwood and also alleged that the failure was partially responsible for Robert Koranda's death. (Id.)

  Robert Koranda's family, including plaintiff John Koranda, also publically criticized the City through public statements reported in the local and national media. These public statements alleged that the porch collapse would not have happened had the City enforced its own codes regarding the permitting, construction and inspection of porches. (Id. at ¶ 10).

  In February 2005, the City filed a third-party complaint against John Koranda in Robert Koranda's state court case. Ware v. L.G. Prop. Co. et al., 03 L 8084 (Consolidated); (Dkt. No. 14 at Ex. C). The City alleged that John Koranda was responsible for the porch collapse and resulting deaths and injuries. (Id. at ¶ 12). According to the City's third-party complaint, John Koranda jumped up and down on the porch before it collapsed. (Dkt. No. 14, Ex. C).

  John Koranda's complaint pending before this court alleges that the City filed the third-party complaint in the state case in direct retaliation for the public statements Koranda made criticizing the City. (Id. at ¶ 11). According to Koranda's complaint, the City knows that the allegations it made against him in the state case are false, that the allegations are based on fabricated evidence, and that the allegations were made for the purpose of retaliating against Koranda for his public comments against the City.

  The City argues in its present motion that John Koranda's complaint should be dismissed under the Younger abstention doctrine, or in the alternative, the suit should be stayed under the Colorado River abstention doctrine. The City also argues for dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Rules"), if the court reaches the merit of Koranda's claims, for what the City asserts is a failure by Koranda's complaint to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

  ANALYSIS

  A. Younger Doctrine

  The City argues for a dismissal pursuant to the Younger abstention doctrine. Koranda counters that Younger is inappropriate in this case because of the bad faith exception to Younger. The court agrees with the City that dismissal pursuant to Younger is appropriate in this case.

  "In Younger, the Supreme Court held that absent extraordinary circumstances federal courts should abstain from enjoying ongoing state criminal proceedings." Simpson v. Rowan, 73 F.3d 134, 137 (7th Cir. 1995) (citing Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 53 (1971)). "The Younger abstention requires that a federal court abstain out of comity to a state court because both proceedings involve important state functions." Daniels v. Sheahan, No. 97 C 5430, 1997 WL 786649, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 15, 1997). It is presumed under Younger "that a plaintiff's federal constitutional claims can be fairly vindicated in the state court proceedings without federal intrusion." Snell v. Pucinski, No. 02 C 8172, 2003 WL 21321348, at *2 (N.D. Ill. June 6, 2003).

  The Younger, doctrine has been applied beyond its original factual situation to "non criminal judicial proceedings when important state interests are involved." Middlesex County Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 432 (1982). This includes civil suits seeking monetary relief. Robinson v. Lother, ...


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