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King v. Schieferdecker

September 22, 2009

JERMAIN KING, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SHERIFF OF SCHUYLER COUNTY DON L. SCHIEFERDECKER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jeanne E. Scott United States District Judge

OPINION

JEANNE E. SCOTT, U.S. District Judge

This matter comes before the Court on Defendants Illinois Department of Human Services (Department) and named Department employees' Motion to Dismiss (d/e 64), and Schuyler County Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss Counts II, III, V, VI and VIII of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (d/e 67). Plaintiff Jermain King is an African American man. He worked for the Illinois Department of Human Services (Department) at its Rushville, Illinois, Detention Facility (Facility). King alleges that he spoke out about the disparity in treatment of African American staff by the Department and also submitted numerous written complaints. He alleges that the Department and individual employees of the Department conspired to retaliate against him in various ways. This retaliation ultimately led to his wrongful discharge. King alleges that certain Department employees falsely reported to the Defendant Schuyler County, Illinois, Sheriff's Office that he was bringing drugs into the Facility. King alleges that Defendant Sheriff Don L. Schieferdecker and Defendant Deputy Thomas Kanoski subjected him to an illegal full body strip search as a result.*fn1 King filed a nine-count Complaint against these Defendants under both federal and state law. Verified First Amended Complaint (d/e 61) (Complaint). The Defendants have now filed motions to dismiss. For the reasons set forth below, the Motions are ALLOWED in part and DENIED in part.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

For purposes of the Motions, the Court must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations contained in the Complaint and draw all inferences in the light most favorable to King. Hager v. City of West Peoria, 84 F.3d 865, 868-69 (7th Cir. 1996); Covington Court, Ltd. v. Village of Oak Brook, 77 F.3d 177, 178 (7th Cir. 1996). The Court may also take judicial notice of matters of public record. Henson v. CSC Credit Services, 29 F.3d 280, 284 (7th Cir. 1994). When read in that light, the Complaint must set forth a short and plain statement of the claim showing that King is entitled to relief. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1969 (2007); Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT & T Mobility, LLC, 499 F.3d 663 (7th Cir. 2007).

King started working for the Department on January 18, 2005. At that time, he worked at the Department's detention facility in Joliet, Illinois. The Joliet facility closed on May 6, 2006, and the operation was relocated to the Facility. King transferred to the Facility at that time. Thereafter, King started speaking out about the unfair treatment of African American employees. King also filed a number of written complaints to his superiors and the Department's Bureau of Civil Affairs (Bureau). The Bureau investigated corruption and discrimination within the Department. King also complained about the unwillingness to hire and promote African Americans at the Facility.

King alleges that the following individual Defendant employees at the Facility retaliated against him by making various false accusations and reports about him, or inducing other employees to make such false accusations: Colette Volk, Darrell Sanders, John Jeslis, Joe Dorsey, Gallager, Dave Kunkel, Joe Hankins, Eugene McAdory, Chris Clayton, Gregg Scott, and Tarry Williams.*fn2 King alleges that he suffered adverse disciplinary actions as a result of these false accusations.

On January 18, 2007, a grievance meeting was convened to present and describe acts of unlawful discrimination within the facility. Present at the meeting were Defendants Sanders and McAdory, and also Defendants Assistant Facility Director Brian Thomas, Facility Director Thomas Monahan, and Director of Forensics Anderson Freeman. King alleges that these Defendants neglected to make any genuine effort to resolve the issues raised.

On October 28, 2007, and again on November 28, 2007, two residents at the Facility told King that Defendants Scott, Williams, and Clayton were soliciting residents to induce King to bring illegal drugs into the Facility.

On December 4, 2007, Defendants Sheriff Schieferdecker, Deputy Sheriff Kanoski, and other members of the Sheriff's Office set up road blocks on the road leading to the Facility. These Defendants stopped the vehicle in which King was riding as a passenger. The officers stopped the vehicle because they had a traffic warrant for King for driving on a suspended license and failure to appear. Complaint, Ex. 11, Warrant for Arrest. The vehicle was owned by another Facility employee. The Defendants searched the vehicle and then arrested King. They transported King to the Schuyler County Jail and subjected him to a full body strip search.

Defendant Kanoski told King that Facility personnel contacted the Sheriff's Office and told them to be on the look out for King. The unnamed personnel provided the year, model, and license plate number of the car in which King would be riding. Complaint, Exhibit 9. Apart from the information provided by Facility personnel, Defendants Schieferdecker, Kanoski and the other members of the Sheriff's Office had no basis to suspect that King had illegal drugs on his person or was engaged in any other criminal activity.

The false reports and other retaliation continued until King was ultimately terminated from his employment at the Facility on April 15, 2008. King filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and secured a right to sue letter. He then brought this action.

ANALYSIS

King alleges nine counts in the Complaint: Count I is a retaliation claim against the Department under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3;

Count II is a federal conspiracy claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) against the individual Defendants (collectively the Individual Defendants) who were employees of the Department (Department Employees) and the Sheriff's Office (Sheriff's Office Employees);

Count III is a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Individual Defendants for retaliating against King for exercising his First Amendment rights when he spoke out about the treatment of African American employees at the Facility;

Count IV is a claim under § 1983 against the Sheriff's Office Employees and Defendants Scott, Clayton and Williams for subjecting King to an illegal search in violation of the Fourth Amendment;

Count V is a claim under ยง 1983 against the Sheriff's Office Employees and Defendants Scott, Clayton and Williams for violating King's right to equal ...


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