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Robinson v. Alter Barge Line

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS


February 12, 2008

DAVE ROBINSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ALTER BARGE LINE, INC., DEFENDANT.

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

ORDER

On March 15, 2007, the Court issued an order (Doc. 13) granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 9), finding that Plaintiff's Illinois Whistleblower Act, 740ILL.COMP.STAT.174/20, and Illinois common law retaliatory discharge claims were preempted by general maritime law.*fn1 Plaintiff appealed this judgment to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the Court's order granting summary judgment to Defendant, thereby remanding the case so that the Court could enter an order in compliance with the Appellate Court's Mandate (Doc. 28). See Robinson v. Alter Barge Line, Inc., Case No. 07-1647, 2008 WL 141798 at *6 (7th Cir. Jan. 16, 2008)(Posner, J.). Specifically, the Seventh Circuit disagreed with this Court's finding that general maritime law preempted both Plaintiff's Illinois Whistleblower Act and Illinois common law retaliatory discharge claims. Id. Instead, the Seventh Circuit held that general maritime law did not preempt either the Illinois Whistleblower Act or Illinois's common law tort of retaliatory discharge.*fn2 Id. Although the Seventh Circuit did find that Plaintiff failed, as a matter of law, to state a viable whistleblower claim under either state or federal law, it held that Plaintiff's claim for retaliatory discharge under Illinois common law should survive summary judgment.*fn3 Id. at *6.Further, as this state common law cause of action was Plaintiff's sole surviving claim, it also found federal subject matter jurisdiction existed under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Id.

Therefore, in accordance with the Mandate of the Seventh Circuit (Doc. 28), the Court hereby GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 9), finding that general maritime law does not preempt either the Illinois Whistleblower Act or Illinois's common law tort of retaliatory discharge. As such, summary judgment is granted in favor of Defendant as to Plaintiff's whistleblower claim, as stated in Count II of his Complaint (Doc. 2). However, summary judgment is denied regarding Plaintiff's retaliatory discharge claim, as stated in Count I of his Complaint (Doc. 2). Even though Plaintiff's surviving claim is a state common law cause of action, the Court finds that it retains subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The Clerk is instructed to reopen the case file.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Signed this 12th day of February, 2008.

David R Herndon Chief Judge United States District Court


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