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Barrett v. Devine

March 12, 2009

EDWARD J. BARRETT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RICHARD A. DEVINE, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES; ROBERT J. MILAN, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY; PETER J. TROY, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY; J. MURRAY, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL JOHN G. MURPHY, CAPACITY; IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY; THE OFFICE OF THE STATE'S ATTORNEY OF COOK COUNTY, AN AGENCY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS; THE COUNTY OF COOK, AN ILLINOIS MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, BODY POLITIC AND UNIT OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT; AND THE COOK COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITY, BERNARD DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Harry D. Leinenweber

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court are Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and Motion for Sanctions. For the reasons given below, the Motion to Dismiss is granted, and the Motion for Sanctions is granted.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On October 27, 2008, Plaintiff Edward J. Barrett (hereinafter, the "Plaintiff") filed a Complaint against Defendants Richard A. Devine ("Defendant Devine") in his individual and official capacities, Robert J. Milan ("Defendant Milan"), Peter J. Troy ("Defendant Troy"), Bernard J. Murray ("Defendant Murray"), John G. Murphy ("Defendant Murphy"), the Office of the State's Attorney of Cook County ("Defendant OSA"), the County of Cook ("Defendant County"), and the Cook County Board of Commissioners ("Defendant Board") (collectively, the "Defendants"). The Complaint alleges a Shakman claim, civil rights violations pursuant to Section 1983, punitive discharge, and a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA").

At all times relevant to the Complaint, Plaintiff was employed as an Assistant State's Attorney at the OSA. Defendant Devine was the elected State's Attorney for Cook County. Defendant Murray served as Chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau at the OSA, and Defendants Milan and Troy were appointed employees at the OSA. Defendant County provides and controls the funding of the OSA, and Defendant Board is the governing body of Cook County and authorizes the budget for the OSA.

From 1990 until November 2004, Plaintiff served as a prosecutor in a felony courtroom of the Fifth District Criminal Prosecutions Bureau. In March 2004, Plaintiff stood as a candidate for election to the office of judge in the 4th Judicial Sub-Circuit of Cook County. Plaintiff's supervisor, Defendant Troy, raised fundraising money for Plaintiff's opponent in the election. Plaintiff alleges that, beginning in April 2004, in retaliation for his political association, Defendant Troy issued performance evaluations that contained false and inaccurate statements about Plaintiff. See Compl. ¶¶ 14, 16, 48. In November 2004, Defendant Murray, informed Plaintiff that, as a disciplinary action, he would be transferred to another district and demoted with a corresponding salary reduction. Id. at ¶ 17. Plaintiff alleges that he was transferred and demoted for impermissible political reasons. See id. at ¶ 48.

From November 2004 until February 2007, Plaintiff worked as a criminal prosecutor in the Fourth District. In February 2007, Defendant Murray informed Plaintiff that, due to countywide budget cuts, Plaintiff would be terminated as of March 2, 2007. Plaintiff alleges that the stated reason for his termination was pretext and that he was fired instead because of his political association, his obesity, and/or his history of alcoholism. See id. at ¶¶ 48, 57. Plaintiff also alleges that, around the time of his termination, Defendant OSA impermissibly removed other employees from the termination list after being contacted by the employees' political sponsors. See id. at ¶¶ 37-42.

II. MOTION TO DISMISS

In its Motion to Dismiss, Defendants first argue that all claims against Defendant OSA and Defendant Devine, in his official capacity, are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Second, Defendants contend that Plaintiff failed to state a claim for a violation of the Shakman consent decree. Third, Defendants argue that the Section 1983 claim against individual Defendants fails because the Complaint does not allege sufficient personal involvement and because Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. Fourth, Defendants argue that Count III ("punitive discharge") is not a recognized cause of action. Finally, Defendants argue that the ADA claim is fatally flawed for several reasons: (1) individual Defendants are not "employers" under the ADA; (2) Plaintiff failed to allege exhaustion of administrative requirements; and (3) Defendant Board is a non-suable entity and must be dismissed.

In response, Plaintiff concedes that the Shakman claim (Count I) against individual Defendants and the putative discharge claim (Count III) against all Defendants should be dismissed. Plaintiff also concurs with Defendant that all claims against Defendants Board and Murphy should be dismissed from this case. Consequently, the Court dismisses with prejudice: (1) all claims against Defendants Board and Murphy; (2) Count I against Defendant Devine in his individual capacity, and against Defendants Milan, Troy, and Murray, and (3) Count III against all Defendants.

A. Standard of Review

On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court accepts all well-pleaded allegations in the Complaint as true, and views the allegations in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs, drawing all reasonable inferences in Plaintiffs' favor. Bontkowski v. First

Nat. Bank of Cicero, 998 F.2d 459, 461 (7th Cir., 1993). "A complaint must always . . . allege 'enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Limestone Development Corp. v. Village of Lemont, Ill., 520 F.3d 797, 803 (7th Cir., 2008) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007)). To avoid dismissal, the "allegations must plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a speculative level." E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Services, Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir., 2007).

B. Eleventh Amendment Immunity

Defendants contend that all claims against Defendant OSA and Defendant Devine, in his official capacity, are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. In response, Plaintiff argues that the Seventh Circuit erred in its ruling on this issue, and Plaintiff urges the Court to allow its claims against these Defendants to proceed.

The Eleventh Amendment bars federal courts from deciding suits seeking monetary damages brought by private litigants against states, state agencies, and state officials acting in their official capacities. Garcia v. City of Chicago, 24 F.3d 966, 969 (7th Cir., 1994). This immunity extends to claims brought pursuant to the ADA and Section 1983. See, e.g., Board of Trustees of University of Alabama v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356, 374 (2001)(ADA); Endres v. Indiana State Police, 349 F.3d 922, 927 (7th Cir., 2003). The Seventh Circuit has held that State's Attorneys are state officials for purposes of Eleventh Amendment immunity. Garcia, 24 F.3d at 969. The Court rejects Plaintiff's suggestion that it ignore this decision by the Court of Appeals.

Here, the Complaint alleges only claims for monetary damages against Defendant OSA, a state agency, and Defendant Devine, a state official. See Compl. ΒΆΒΆ 43, 44, 49, 50, 59. As such, all claims against Defendant OSA and Defendant ...


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