The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert District Judge
This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motions to Dismiss (Doc. 25, 38, 59). Plaintiff Henry Waller, Jr. ("Waller") filed Responses (Doc. 35, 62, 63) thereto. Defendant Dr. Patil also filed a Reply (Doc. 40) brief.
For the following reasons, the Court, inter alia, GRANTS the instant motions.
For purposes of a motion to dismiss, a district court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences from those facts in favor of the plaintiff. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Tricontinental Indus., Ltd. v. PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, 475 F.3d 824, 833 (7th Cir. 2007). The Court, accepting all of Waller's allegations as true and drawing all reasonable inferences in his favor, finds as follows:
As late as 2008, Waller worked in an unspecified capacity for Tamms Correctional Center, a prison facility within Defendant Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"). On February 19, 2008, Waller took a break from his shift to pray in the prison's "G-Pod" mail room. For some unspecified reason, Defendant Lieutenant Chad Parrish did not like this. Lieutenant Parrish informed Defendant Correctional Officer George Johnson and other employees that Waller "was going to shoot somebody" instead of pray. Doc. 1, p. 6. This lie quickly spread, and Waller would soon have tospeak with his supervisor, Defendant Major Charles Roper.
Because of Lieutenant Parrish's lie, IDOC immediately placed Waller on administrative leave until he was evaluated by Defendant Dr. Patil. Waller underwent such an evaluation on June 16, 2008, where Dr. Patil found him to be unfit for duty. One month later, IDOC placed Waller on unpaid medical leave of absence pursuant to Dr. Patil's findings. The forced medical leave also represented retaliation for Waller's continuous reportage of abuse of Muslim inmates' legal right to receive food on religious holidays. Dr. Patil thereafter refused to sign medical forms that would allow Waller to be paid during his "lockout."
II. Relevant Procedural Posture
Waller eventually initiated four proceedings before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). After conducting an investigation, the EEOC could not determine that Defendants had violated any statute. The EEOC subsequently sent Waller a "right-to-sue" letter for each charge on April 1 and April 2, 2010, which stated that any corresponding federal lawsuit "must be filed WITHIN 90 DAYS of your receipt of [the letter]; or your right to sue based on this charge will be lost."*fn1 Doc. 1-1, p. 2-5 (emphasis in original). Waller received all of these letters on April 8, 2010.*fn2
On July 7, 2010, at approximately 4:15 p.m., or 90 days after he received the right-tosue letters, Waller arrived at the East St. Louis courthouse, United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, to file his federal lawsuit.*fn3 The East St. Louis courthouse, like the Benton courthouse, is "open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays." http://www.ilsd.uscourts.gov/ (last visited May 26, 2011). Waller explained to an unidentified female employee in the Clerk of Court's office that he needed to promptly file his suit due to the looming deadline. The employee, however, told Waller that she had already shut down her computer and that "it would take time to turn on the computer and file all [of the] documents correctly[.]" Doc. 35, p. 1; Doc. 62, p. 3. See also Doc. 35, p. 1-2; Doc. 62, p. 3 ("There just is not enough time for me to file it today, come back in the morning when the computer is running and I have more time to file it."). She further stated that nobody could be in the office past 4:30 p.m. because of security concerns. Finally, the employee assured Waller that he would not run afoul of the 90-day deadline referenced in the right-to-sue letters because "the office was closing and the computer was already shut down when [he] arrived." Doc. 35, p. 2; Doc. 62, p. 3. Convinced that he could not force the employee to accept his documents and file the complaint, Waller left the courthouse and decided to return the next day.
On July 8, 2011, Waller filed suit in this Court against Defendants, alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-5, et seq. The same female employee Waller had met on July 7 assisted him in filing his complaint on July 8. She again assured him that all documents were timely and correctly filed. Waller subsequently made several attempts to uncover the identity of the Clerk's office employee, but his efforts proved unsuccessful. Upon entering the case, Defendants filed the instant motions, arguing, inter alia, that Waller did not file a timely complaint pursuant to § 2000e-5(f)(1) and that Waller's complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to 12(b)(6).
I. Timeliness of Waller's ...