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Watson v. Bush

April 20, 2010

KELLIE R. WATSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GEORGE W. BUSH, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On August 31, 2009, pro se Plaintiff Kellie R. Watson filed an Amended Complaint [44] against Defendants George W. Bush, the Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD"), HUD Regional Director Joseph P. Galvan, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich*fn1, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the Illinois State Police Division of Forensic Services, Detective Robert R. Cordaro of the Chicago Police Department, Chicago Police Superintendent Phillip J. Cline, the Internal Affairs Department of the Chicago Police Department, former Cook County State' s Attorney Richard A. Devine, Assistant State' s Attorney John Sommerville, the Cook County State' s Attorney' s Office, and four private attorneys. Plaintiff asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985, 18 U.S.C. § 4 (federal criminal statute for misprision of a felony), 18 U.S.C. § 1505 (federal criminal statute for obstruction of justice), an Illinois criminal statute relating to the obstruction of justice (720 ILCS 5/31-4), and the Illinois Civil Rights Act (740 ILCS 23/1). The amended complaint also refers to Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act ("the Fair Housing Act"), the Americans with Disabilities Act, 18 U.S.C. § 241 (conspiracy against rights), and 18 U.S.C. § 242 (deprivation of rights under color of law).

Several Defendants have moved to dismiss Plaintiff's amended complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). See [45, 48, 50]. Those motions currently are before the Court. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motions to dismiss are granted.

I. Background*fn2

Plaintiff filed her initial complaint against Defendants in the Circuit Court of Cook County on February 25, 2009. On March 25, 2009, the United States removed this case to federal district court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a)(1). On August 31, 2009, Plaintiff filed her amended complaint [44].

The basis for Plaintiff's amended complaint is two-fold. First, Plaintiff states that she was raped in 2000 and 2001 and alleges that Defendants failed to investigate and prosecute her assailant. Second, Plaintiff alleges that she had difficulty obtaining federally-subsidized housing, and that after she secured federal grant money, she was "illegally evicted" from an apartment that was "not up to HUD standards or The City of Chicago Building Code." The complaint is the latest in a series of lawsuits against various defendants, all of which stem from those events. See Watson v. Home Depot, et al., No. 01 C 1517; Watson v. Home Depot, et al., No. 07 C 4191; Watson v. HUD, et al., No. 08 C 1308.

Defendants Devine, Sommerville, and the Cook County State' s Attorney's Office (collectively the "SAO Defendants") have moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). See [45]. Defendants Quinn (the successor to Defendant Blagojevich) and Madigan filed a motion to dismiss [50] that adopts the motion filed by the SAO Defendants. Defendants Bush, HUD, and Galvin ("the Federal Defendants") seek dismissal on sovereign immunity, lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and res judicata or collateral estoppel grounds. See [48].

II. Legal Standards

Defendants have moved to dismiss Plaintiff's amended complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), and for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). The purpose of a motion to dismiss is not to decide the merits of the case. A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the sufficiency of the complaint, Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990), while a Rule 12(b)(1) motion tests whether the Court has subject matter jurisdiction. Long v. Shorebank Development Corp., 182 F.3d 548, 554 (7th Cir.1999). In reviewing a motion to dismiss under either rule, the Court takes as true all factual allegations in Plaintiff's complaint and draws all reasonable inferences in her favor. Killingsworth, 507 F.3d at 618; Long, 182 F.3d at 554.

To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the complaint first must comply with Rule 8(a) by providing "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" (Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)), such that the defendant is given "fair notice of what the * * * claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Second, the factual allegations in the complaint must be sufficient to raise the possibility of relief above the "speculative level," assuming that all of the allegations in the complaint are true. E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "Detailed factual allegations" are not required, but the plaintiff must allege facts that, when "accepted as true, * * * ' state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, --- U.S. ----, --- -, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. "[O]nce a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563. Surviving a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss is more difficult, as Plaintiff bears the burden of proving that the jurisdictional requirements have been met. United Phosphorus, Ltd. v. Angus Chem. Co., 322 F.3d 942, 946 (7th Cir. 2003).

The Court is mindful of Plaintiff's pro se status and, accordingly, reads her pleadings and filings liberally. Donald v. Cook County Sheriff's Dep't, 95 F.3d 548, 555 (7th Cir. 1996). "The essence of liberal construction is to give a pro se plaintiff a break when, although he stumbles on a technicality, his pleading is otherwise understandable."Hudson v. McHugh, 148 F.3d 859, 864 (7th Cir.1998). However, this Court is not required to "fill in all of the blanks in a pro se complaint." Hamlin v. Vaudenberg, 95 F.3d 580, 583 (7th Cir. 1996).

III. Analysis

A. Claims Against the State Defendants

1. The Eleventh Amendment

Defendants Devine, Sommerville, the Cook County State' s Attorney' s Office, Quinn, and Madigan (the "State Defendants") argue that all of Plaintiff's claims against them should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) because they are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Under the Eleventh Amendment, a state is immune from suits brought by individuals in federal court unless one of two exceptions applies. Kroll v. Board of Trustees of University of Illinois, 934 F.2d 904, 907 (7th Cir. 1991); Pennhurst State School & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 101 (1984). First, individuals may sue a state in federal court if the state has consented to suit by unequivocally waiving its sovereign immunity. Kroll, 934 F.2d at 907; Pennhurst, 465 U.S. at 98. Second, individuals can ...


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