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Gekas v. Vasiliades

July 22, 2010

MARK GEKAS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PETER VASILIADES, MARY RANIELI, JOHN LAGATUTTA, DANIEL BLUTHARDT, JOHN KRISKO, FRANK MAGGIO, ROBERT J. SHAFER, KAREN SCHROCK, AND ALLEN J. SHAPIRO, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jeanne E. Scott, U.S. District Judge

OPINION

This cause is before the Court on Defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss (Motion) (d/e 12) and Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss (d/e 13). Plaintiff has filed Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss (Response) (d/e 15).

This matter is fully briefed and ripe for adjudication. For the reasons described below, the Motion is granted, and Plaintiff is granted leave to file an amended complaint.

FACTS

According to the Complaint (d/e 1), Plaintiff Mark Gekas is a licensed dentist who practices dentistry in Sangamon County, Illinois. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (the Department) regulates Plaintiff's license. At all relevant times, Defendant Peter Vasiliades was an inspector for the Department. As such, Vasiliades was responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct against dentists licensed by the State of Illinois. Defendant Mary Ranieli is a licensed dentist and has been the Department's Dental Coordinator since 2003. Defendant John Lagatutta was the Deputy Director of the Department, and Defendant Daniel Bluthardt was the Director of the Department's Division of Professional Regulation. Defendants John Krisko and Frank Maggio were members of the Department's Dental Board. Plaintiff alleges that these Defendants acted under color of state law. In the Complaint, Plaintiff also names Robert J. Schafer, Karen Schrock, and Allen J. Shapiro as Defendants, but provides no allegations about who these individuals are or how they are related to this lawsuit.

In 1988, Plaintiff met with then Deputy Governor of Illinois James Riley. At the meeting, Plaintiff complained that Michael Vold, who was the Department's Dental Coordinator at the time, was abusing his authority. After this meeting, Plaintiff renewed his objections about Vold to Illinois State Senator Larry Bomke. Plaintiff also had concerns "about the way the Department handled certain licensing issues." Complaint, ¶ 14. Plaintiff claims that these conversations were protected by the First Amendment because he was seeking redress of grievances from government officials.

Plaintiff alleges that after these meetings, Vold "commenced a pattern of retaliation against" him and that "[a]fter Vold left the employ of the Department that pattern [was] continued by the named defendants." Complaint, ¶ 16. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants retaliated against him by: forcing him to stop seeing certain patients; raiding his office; forbidding him from talking to anyone within the Department; falsifying charges against him; refusing to furnish him with copies of documents that he was legally entitled to receive; sending him a cease and desist order without providing Plaintiff with due process of law; and repeatedly investigating Plaintiff's dental practice for wrongdoing. Plaintiff does not allege specific dates, nor does he describe the role of each Defendant in these alleged acts of retaliation.

Unspecified claims were brought against Plaintiff in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, in 2002. Plaintiff alleges that these claims were dismissed in December 2008, and that he could not have brought this lawsuit until the claims were dismissed. He filed this action on March 18, 2010, claiming under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that Defendants had retaliated against him in violation of his rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Defendants then filed the Motion now before the Court.

LEGAL STANDARDS

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), dismissal is proper where a complaint fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The Federal Rules require only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," and allegations must be "simple, concise, and direct." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) & (d)(1). While a complaint need not contain detailed, specific factual allegations, it must contain sufficient facts to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is plausible if the plaintiff "pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, __ U.S. __, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). The Seventh Circuit has held that a claim is plausible on its face if it provides the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 608 (7th Cir. 2007). Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate when "the factual detail in a complaint [is] so sketchy that the complaint does not provide the type of notice of the claim to which the defendant is entitled under Rule 8." Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility, LLC, 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2007).

For purposes of a motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in a complaint. 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 views the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, in this case, Plaintiff.

ANALYSIS

Defendants present several arguments for dismissal, and the Court addresses ...


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