United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
August 26, 2005.
ARTHURINE ANDERSON, AUREA PEDRAZA, MORRIS FELDMAN, and NANCY REED, Plaintiffs,
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, a body politic and corporate, and ARNE DUNCAN, WENDY HAAS, and CHERYL NEVINS in their individual capacities, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES ZAGEL, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiffs Arthurine Anderson, Aurea Pedraza, Morris Feldman,
and Nancy Reed are teachers employed by Defendant Board of
Education of the City of Chicago ("the Board"). Plaintiff Aurea
Pedraza is a former teacher who retired in April 2004. Plaintiffs
allege that the Board and Board employees, Defendants Arne
Duncan, Cheryl Nevins, and Wendy Haas, violated their federal and
state due process rights as well as the Illinois tenure laws by
placing them on involuntary medical leaves of absence without
providing a hearing.
I have before me Defendants' motion to dismiss. A motion to
dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is proper where 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). In reviewing a motion to dismiss, the
court must construe all allegations in the complaint in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff and accept all well-pleaded facts
and allegations as true. Bontkowski v. First Nat'l Bank,
998 F.2d 459, 461 (7th Cir. 1993). First, Defendants argue that Anderson's and Pedraza's federal
due process claims, brought under § 1983, are barred by the
doctrine of collateral estoppel. Collateral estoppel, also known
as issue preclusion "bars the relitigation, in subsequent
proceedings between the same parties concerning the same dispute,
of specific issues heard and decided in their previous suit."
Amcast Indus. Corp. v. Detrex Corp., 45 F.3d 155, 158 (7th Cir.
1995). Anderson's and Pedraza's allegations that Defendants
violated their § 1983 due process rights are virtually identical
to allegations presented in a prior lawsuit. In that prior suit,
Judge Darrah dismissed Anderson's and Pedraza's § 1983 claim with
prejudice. See Anderson v. Baord of Educ., No. 03 C 7871,
2004 U.S. Dist. Lexis 9267 (N.D. Ill. May 20, 2004). Anderson and
Pedraza appealed Judge Darrah's decision but voluntarily withdrew
it on October 1, 2004. Because Anderson's and Pedraza's § 1983
claims are for all intents and purposes identical to the prior
claims decided by Judge Darrah, I find they are barred by
collateral estoppel and should be dismissed.*fn1
Next, Defendants argue that Feldman's and Reed's § 1983 claims
fail because adequate state law remedies exist to address the
alleged deprivation. Defendants make the same arguments here as
they did in the prior suit filed by Anderson and Pedraza. I have
carefully reviewed Judge's Darrah's May 20, 2004 decision on this
issue and find his reasoning both sound and persuasive. For the
reasons given in that opinion, I find that Feldman's and Reed's §
1983 claims should be dismissed.
Finally, Defendants argue that all of Plaintiffs state law and
state constitutional claims are barred by the statute of
limitations set forth in the Illinois Tort Immunity Act. The Act
states that "[n]o civil action . . . may be commenced in any
court against a local entity or any of its employees for any
injury unless it is commenced within one year from the date that
the injury was received or the cause of action accrued." 745 ILCS 10/8-101(a). Although the Act
defines a civil action as "any action, whether based upon the
common law or statutes or Constitution of this State," Illinois
courts have routinely held that § 8-101 "is narrow, applying only
to tort actions." Roark v. Macoupin Creek Drainage Dist.,
738 N.E.2d 574, 584 (Ill.App.Ct. 2000); see also People v.
Chicago, 758 N.E.2d 25 (Ill.App.Ct. 2001); and Chicago
Limousine Serv. v. City of Chicago, 781 N.E.2d 421 (Ill.App.Ct.
2002) . Since Plaintiffs' state law and state constitutional
claims do not sound in tort, they are not barred by the Act's
one-year statute of limitations.
As a final administrative matter, I must address Plaintiffs'
request to have this case reassigned to Judge Darrah pursuant to
Local Rule 40.3(b)(2), which provides that: "[w]hen a case is
dismissed with prejudice or without, and a second case is filed
involving the same parties and relating to the same subject
matter, the second case shall be reassigned to the judge to whom
the first case was assigned." Since two of the Plaintiffs and all
of the Defendants were parties to a case dismissed by Judge
Darrah, I think that it is best to have this case reassigned to
his docket. I shall request that the Executive Committee of this
Court do so subject to the consent of Judge Darrah. The parties
may address any further motions to his court. I note that since I
have relied so heavily on Judge Darrah's prior opinion, the
parties have not been prejudiced by having this motion decided in
For these reasons, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED in
part and DENIED in part.
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