United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
October 11, 2005.
LARRY ANDREW PIATEK, Plaintiff,
AMERICAN INCOME LIFE INSURANCE CO., et al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: MILTON SHADUR, Senior District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Larry Andrew Piatek ("Piatek") spins an amazing tale one that
involves deliberate fraud on the part of his targeted defendants
and on the part of Piatek himself in the sale of insurance under
various false names, necessitated by Piatek's criminal background
that barred him from being licensed under his own name.*fn1
Piatek wants to collect commissions on those sales.
Because Piatek seeks in forma pauperis status, this Court looks
not only at his financial condition but also at whether he has
advanced any legally non-frivolous claim under the standards
marked out by Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989) and reconfirmed in Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992).
This opinion therefore turns to the latter question.
To begin with, Piatek really has not established the existence
of federal jurisdiction. Although the introductory portion of his
Complaint refers to purported "federal claims" that would give
rise to subject matter jurisdiction "pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331
and 1343," no substantive federal claims are even suggested by
As for the possibility of jurisdiction based on diversity of
citizenship, it is unclear whether Piatek's state of citizenship
that preceded his involuntary housing at Waupun was in Illinois
or Wisconsin, and one of his defendants Joseph Menone is
identified in Complaint ¶ 5 as the state general agent for
codefendant American Income Life Insurance Co. "in Wisconsin and
Northern Illinois." If Piatek and Menone share citizenship in
either Wisconsin or Illinois, as cannot be ascertained either way
from the Complaint, that would of course negate the necessary
total diversity and destroy any prospect of federal jurisdiction.
But this Court need not pursue the latter inquiry, for Piatek's
Complaint is dead in the water for another and wholly independent
reason. There is no question that the entire arrangement on which
Piatek seeks to sue was hopelessly illegal, and that sounds the
death knell for Piatek's effort to collect for his activities
under the illegal arrangement. As the Illinois Supreme Court said in Kedzie & 103rd Currency
Exchange, Inc. v. Hodge, 156 Ill.2d 112, 121-22, 619 N.E.2d 732,
A plaintiff is precluded from recovering on a suit
involving an illegal contract because the plaintiff
is a wrongdoer. (See Bankers Trust Co. v. Litton
Systems, Inc. (2d Cir. 1979), 599 F.2d 488, 492
(citing the Restatement of Contracts and Restatement
(Second) of Contracts).) Enforcement of the illegal
contract makes the court an indirect participant in
the wrongful conduct. See Litton, 599 F.2d at 493.
And as stated in Ill. State Bar Ass'n Mut. Ins. Co. v. Coregis
Ins. Co., 355 Ill.App.3d 156
, 164, 821 N.E.2d 706
, 712 (1st
Dist. 2004) (citations omitted):
For instance, if the subject matter of a contract is
illegal, that contract is void ab
Accordingly Piatek's Complaint and this action are dismissed
with prejudice. That spares Piatek the obligation to pay the $250
filing fee in accordance with the prisoner-related provisions of
28 U.S.C. § 1915.
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