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Vance v. Watts

March 27, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joe Billy McDADE United States District Judge


Before the Court is the Objection filed by the Plaintiff,

Charles B. Vance, on November 9, 2006 to Magistrate Judge Byron

G. Cudmore's Report and Recommendation, entered on October 30, 2006, on the Defendants' Motions to Dismiss [Docs. 11 and 20]. For the reasons that follow the objections are OVERRULED and the Report and Recommendation is ADOPTED.



The Plaintiff's first amended complaint centers upon the denial of unemployment benefits by the Illinois Department of Employment Security ("IDES"). The Plaintiff asserts that when he appealed a decision by IDES denying unemployment benefits, his appeal was heard by the Defendant, Jay M. Watts, an IDES referee. The Plaintiff alleges that Watts failed to conduct a fair hearing because he failed to hold an in-person hearing, failed to allow the Plaintiff to call witnesses, failed to allow discovery, and distorted the facts of the case, all in violation of his due process rights. The Plaintiff alleges that Watts committed these acts in order to benefit his employer, the State of Illinois.

The Plaintiff goes on to allege that Brenda A. Russell, the Director of IDES, negligently hired and trained Watts. The Plaintiff also appears to states that Russell is responsible for Watts' actions because she is his supervisor. Finally, the Plaintiff alleges a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Both Defendants filed motions to dismiss asserting that they are immune from suit pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution. Watts also argued that he is entitled to quasi-judicial immunity. In the Report and Recommendation (R&R), Judge Cudmore found that the Plaintiff's claims against Watts is barred by the Eleventh Amendment and that Watts is immune from suit for acts taken in his judicial capacity. Judge Cudmore further found that the Plaintiff's claim against Russell is barred by sovereign immunity as is his claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Finally, Judge Cudmore found that any amendment to the complaint that would add a claim for injunctive relief would be futile.


Within ten working days after being served with a copy of a magistrate judge's R&R, any party to the action may serve and file written objections to the magistrate judge's proposed findings and recommendations. 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b)(1); Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). However, as the Seventh Circuit has pointed out, Rule 72(b) contemplates "written, specific objections" to the report and recommendation. Johnson v. Zema Sys. Corp., 170 F.3d 734, 739 (7th Cir. 1999).

Therefore, a district court reviews de novo only "those portions of the magistrate judge's [proposed findings and recommendations] to which specific written objection is made." Id. In doing so, the district judge should "give fresh consideration to those issues" by "consider[ing] the record which has been developed before the magistrate and mak[ing] his own determination on the basis of that record, without being bound to adopt the findings and conclusions of the magistrate." United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 675 (1980). In other words, "[a] judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate. The judge may also receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate with instructions." Id. at 674 (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)).

If no objection or only partial objection is made, the district court judge reviews those unobjected portions of the magistrate judge's proposed findings and recommendations for clear error. Johnson, 170 F.3d at 739. As a result, failure to timely object in the district court constitutes a waiver of any objection on appeal. See id.; Video Views Inc. v. Studio 21 Ltd., 797 F.2d 538 (7th Cir. 1986). The Plaintiff has objected to Judge Cudmore's findings and conclusions with respect to Russell's and Watts' 11th Amendment immunity, Watts' judicial immunity, Russell's liability pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983, and the futility of an amendment to the complaint.

In considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court must view the amended complaint in a light most favorable to the Plaintiff. Williams v. Ramos, 71 F.3d 1246, 1250 (7th Cir. 1995). The Court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations and draw all reasonable inferences from those facts in favor of the Plaintiff. Richards v. Kiernan, 461 F.3d 880, 882 (7th Cir. 2006). Therefore, the complaint can only be dismissed if the Plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts upon which relief can be granted. Cler v. Illinois Education Association, 423 F.3d 726, 729 (7th Cir. 2005). A ...

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