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Kaskaskia River/Marina Campgrounds, Inc. v. United States

March 20, 2008

KASKASKIA RIVER/MARINA CAMPGROUNDS, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY, THE UNITED STATES CORPS OF ENGINEERS, THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, ATTORNEY GENERAL ALBERTO R. GONZALES, JOHN DOE IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS AN AGENT OR EMPLOYEE OF THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, JOHN DOE II IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS AN AGENT OR EMPLOYEE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, AND THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

A. Introduction and Factual/Procedural Background

On March 7, 2007, Kaskaskia River/Marina Campgrounds, Inc. (Kaskaskia Marina) filed a complaint under the Federal Tort Claims Act alleging that on September 6, 2003, its facilities were damaged by an unexpected drop in water level (Doc. 2). Kaskaskia Marina named the following Defendants: the United States of America, the Department of the Army, the United States Corps of Engineers, the State of Illinois, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, John Doe, in his individual and official capacity as an agent or employee of the Army Corps of Engineers, John Doe II, in his individual and official capacity as an agent or employee of the State of Illinois, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Kaskaskia Marina alleges that the navigable portion of the Kaskaskia River was expanded under the Kaskaskia River Marina Navigation Project, which allocated responsibilities for maintenance of water levels between various federal and state agencies. Kaskaskia Marina alleges that these governmental agencies were negligent by disregarding standards, maintenance, and the operation of certain equipment, which resulted in the drop in water level. Kaskaskia Marina seeks monetary relief for damage to its property, declaratory relief to determine the relative responsibilities of the Defendants, and injunctive relief.

On July 7, 2007, after four months of inactivity, this Court entered a notice of impending dismissal for want of prosecution. Therein, the Court allowed Kaskaskia Marina twenty days to effectuate service or to proceed to default judgment (Doc. 4). On July 27, 2007, Kaskaskia Marina responded by informing the Court that the State of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources had waived service and that the remaining federal governmental agencies had been served pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 4(i) (Doc. 7). Neither John Doe nor John Doe II has been identified or served, either in their official or individual capacities.

On July 27, 2007, the State of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (the State Defendants) filed a motion to dismiss Kaskaskia Marina's complaint on the basis of state sovereign immunity (Doc. 6). On September 17, 2007, the United States of America, the Department of the Army, the United States Corps of Engineers, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, and John Doe in his official capacity (the Federal Defendants) filed a motion to dismiss on the basis of improper service of process and improperly named Defendants (Doc. 10).

On September 19, 2007, the Court ordered Kaskaskia Marina to submit a response to the Federal Defendants' motion to dismiss by October 22, 2007 (Doc. 13). On October 23, 2007, Kaskaskia Marina filed a combined response to both motions (Doc. 20).*fn1 Additionally, on March 11, 2008, the State Defendants filed a motion to stay discovery pending resolution of their motion to dismiss (Doc. 21).

Having fully reviewed these filings, the Court GRANTS the State Defendants' motion to dismiss (Doc. 6), GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART the Federal Defendants' motion to dismiss (Doc. 10), and DENIES AS MOOT the State Defendants' motion to stay discovery (Doc. 21).

B. Analysis

1. The State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 6)

The Eleventh Amendment recognizes that each state is a sovereign entity, and "it is inherent in the nature of sovereignty not to be amenable to the suit of an individual without consent." Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1, 13 (1890). By its express terms, the Eleventh Amendment bars federal courts from hearing suits against a state brought by citizens of any other state. U.S.CONST.AMEND.XI.*fn2 Additionally, the United States Supreme Court has consistently held that unconsenting states are immune from suits brought in federal court by their own citizens as well as those brought by citizens of other states. Ameritech Corp. v. McCann, 297 F.3d 583, 585 (7th Cir. 2002) (citing Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 662-63 (1974)).

Eleventh Amendment immunity applies to injunctive suits against the states as well as those for damages. Id. The Eleventh Amendment also protects state agencies and state officials from such actions. See Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 73-76 (1996); Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 169 (1985); Pennhurst State School & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984). See alsoIllinois Assoc. of Mortgage Brokers v. Office of Banks and Real Estate, 308 F.3d 762, 765-66 (7th Cir. 2002); Ryan v. Illinois Dep't of Children & Family Servs., 185 F.3d 751, 758 (7th Cir. 1999) (explaining that as an agency of the state, Illinois Department of Children & Family Services was entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity against § 1983 claims).

There are narrow circumstances in which a suit can proceed against a state, its agencies, or officials. For instance, a state can waive the protections of the Eleventh Amendment and consent to be sued in federal court. Ameritech, 297 F.3d at 585. Additionally, the United States Congress can use its enforcement powers under the Fourteenth Amendment to abrogate a state's Eleventh Amendment immunity. Id. Furthermore, a suit for prospective injunctive relief (though not money damages) may proceed against state officials in limited circumstances, as outlined in Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 124 (1908). See Ameritech, 297 F.3d at 585. Finally, a suit for money damages may proceed against a state official sued in his individual capacity (as opposed to his official capacity) for wrongful conduct attributable to the official himself, "so long as the relief is sought, not from the state treasury but from the officer personally." Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S. 706, 757 (1999).

Kaskaskia Marina's suit against the State Defendants does not fall within any of the exceptions to the Eleventh Amendment. Here, Kaskaskia Marina proceeds in federal court against the State of Illinois itself and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, an agency of the State of Illinois, for monetary and injunctive relief. The State of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources have neither consented to this suit nor have they waived the immunity they enjoy under the Eleventh Amendment. Furthermore, Kaskaskia Marina does not maintain that Congress has validly abrogated state sovereign immunity in any statute pertaining to the claims it asserts in its complaint. As Kaskaskia Marina fails to provide this Court with any state or federal statute under ...


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