Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Block v. Illinois Secretary of State

February 24, 2010

JEFFREY BLOCK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ILLINOIS SECRETARY OF STATE, DEPARTMENT OF POLICE, AND MICHAEL PIPPIN, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. Introduction

On July 16, 2009 Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint against Defendants Illinois Secretary of State, Department of Police and Michael Pippin for his discharge from his employment with Defendant Secretary of State Department of Police. Plaintiff alleges that his discharge was a result of discrimination for his suffering from anxiety, depression, and post traumatic distress disorder as well as Crohn's disease. Plaintiff filed this five count complaint alleging that his termination was a result of discrimination and retaliation for exercising his FMLA rights. Plaintiff also alleges several violations of state law and brings a claim of tortious interference with contract against Defendant Michael Pippin. Count I was brought against the Secretary of State Department of Police pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Count II of the Complaint alleged retaliation under FMLA. Counts III and IV alleged retaliatory discharge in violation of Illinois' State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, 5 ILCS 430/1-1 et seq. and Illinos' Uniform Police Officers' Disciplinary Act, 50 ILCS 725/1 et seq. Count V was brought under state law against Defendant Pippin for tortious interference with employment contract and/or business relationship.

Now before the Court are two motions to dismiss file by Defendants. Defendant Illinois Secretary of State Department of Police have filed a Motion to Dismiss Counts III and IV of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (Doc. 26). Plaintiff has filed a response (Doc. 31) and Defendant has filed a reply (Doc. 33). Further, Defendant Michael Pippin has filed a Motion to Dismiss Count V of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. 28). Plaintiff has filed a response to this motion as well (Doc. 32). Defendant Michael Pippin has filed a reply (Doc. 34). Based on the following, the Court GRANTS both motions (Docs. 26 & 28).

II. Discussion

A. Legal Standard

When ruling on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court must look to the complaint to determine whether it satisfies the threshold pleading requirements under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8. Rule 8 states that a complaint need only contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). The Supreme Court held that Rule 8 requires a complaint to allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face" to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). In other words, the Supreme Court explained it was "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' " by providing "more than labels and conclusions," because "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do . . . ." Id. at 555-56 (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders 'naked assertion[s]' devoid of 'further factual enhancement.' Ashcroft v. Iqbal, --- U.S.---, --- 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

Recently, in Iqbal, the Supreme Court made clear that the federal pleading standard under Rule 8 as discussed in its Twombly opinion applies "for all civil actions." Id. at ---, 129 S.Ct. at 1953. Iqbal identified the "two working principles" underlying the decision in Twombly: (1) "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice;" and (2) "only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id. at ---,129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56).In short, a court should only assume to be true a complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations, and not its mere legal conclusions, when determining whether such allegations plausibly give rise to relief. Id. at ---, 129 S.Ct. at 1950.

B. Analysis

1. Counts III and IV

As to the Motion to Dismiss filed by the Illinois Secretary of State Department of Police, Defendant argues that Counts III and IV should be dismissed because the claims in Counts III and IV are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Counts III and IV are brought pursuant to the Illinois State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, 5 ILCS 430/1 et seq., and the Uniform Peace Officers' Disciplinary Act, 50 ILCS 725/1 et seq., respectively. Defendant maintains that the State has not waived its sovereign immunity as to claims arising in federal court under those statutes. Plaintiff argues that under the express terms of the statute, the State's immunity is waived.

The Eleventh Amendment of the Constitution provides that: "[t]he Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State." U.S. CONST. amend. XI. Although not expressly stated in its terms, the Supreme Court has interpreted the provision to bar suits in federal court brought against a state by its own citizens. Ameritech Corp. v. McCann, 297 F.3d 582, 585 (7th Cir. 20002) (quoting Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 662-63, 94 S.Ct. 1347, 1355, 39 L.Ed.2d 662 (1974)). The immunity also extends to state agencies as they are "arms of the state." Burrus v. State Lottery Commission of Indiana, 546 F.3d 417, 420 (7th Cir. 2008).*fn1 The immunity, however, is not absolute.Varner v. Illinois State University, 226 F.3d 927, 929-30 (7th Cir. 2000). A suit can proceed against a state in federal court in a limited number of circumstances including: "(1) [when] a state official is sued for prospective equitable relief under Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 159-60, 28 S.Ct. 441, 52 L.Ed 714 (1908); (2) Congress abrogates the State's immunity pursuant to its powers under section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment; or (3) the State consents and waives its immunity." Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 883 (7th Cir. 2009).

Here, Plaintiff maintains that the two Illinois statutes he brings his claims under expressly waive immunity to suit in federal court. Counts III and IV of Plaintiff's Complaint cites causes of action arising under both the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act and the Uniform Peace Officers' Disciplinary Act, both state laws. State sovereign immunity rules apply to state law causes of action brought in federal court. Van Guilder v. Glasgow, 588 F.Supp.2d 876, 881 (N.D.Ill. 2008). However, the State of Illinois has not consented to suits brought against it under either of these laws. The Illinois State Lawsuit Immunity Act specified that "[e]xcept as provided in the Illinois Public Relations Act, the Court of Claims Act, the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, Section 1.5 of this Act, and, except as provided in the Clean Coal FutureGen for Illinois Act, the State of Illinois shall not be made a defendant or party in any court." 745 ILCS 5/1 (2008). The State Officials and Employees Ethics Act provides only that"[t]he circuit courts of this State shall have jurisdiction to hear cases brought under this Article." 745 ILCS 430/15-25 (2009). Plaintiff points to this provision to support his position that Illinois has expressly waived its sovereign immunity. However, while Illinois might have consented to suit in its own Courts, nothing in the statute states that it has consented to suit in federal courts. Osteen v. Henley, 13 F.3d 221, 224 (7th Cir. 1994) ("a state can waive its sovereign immunity to suit in its own courts without thereby being deemed to have waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity to suit in federal court..."); See also Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 580 (7th Cir. 2009) (while the Illinois State Lawsuit Immunity Act constituted a partial waiver of immunity by allowing tort suits against the state to proceed in the Court of Claims, the statute did not waive sovereign immunity as to state law claims brought in federal court).While it appears the State of Illinois allows for a suit under the statute to be brought in Illinois courts, the statute does not address its immunity under the Eleventh Amendment. The language of the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act does not unequivocally waive its immunity to state in federal court. Therefore, the claims brought under the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act are barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity provided in the Eleventh Amendment.

Plaintiff also argues that the Uniform Peace Officer Disciplinary Act has express language which waives its sovereign immunity. Here, Plaintiff readily admits that the statute lacks the remedial scheme that the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act provides, but argues that the point of the statute is to provide certain due process rights to peace officers being investigated. However, the Plaintiff fails to point to any language in the statute that waives the State's sovereign immunity to suit in federal court. Further, the statute is not one of the ones listed as an exception to the State's immunity under either Section 1 and Section 1.5 of the Illinois State Lawsuit Immunity Act.See 745 ILCS 5/1 and 745 ILCS 5/1.5. Therefore, the statute is not an exception to the Illinois ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.