The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sue E. Myerscough, United States District Judge.
E-FILED Friday, 29 July, 2011 04:07:18 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD
On July 12, 2011, Plaintiffs, Kathleen A. Hagan; Joseph V. Prieto; Richard A. Peterson; Peter Akemann; and Gilberto Galicia, all of whom are arbitrators on the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission (Commission), filed a three-count Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 against Defendants Patrick J. Quinn, the Governor of Illinois; Mitch Weisz, the Chairman of the Commission; and the following commissioners: Mario Basurto; Kevin Lamborn; Yolaine Dauphin; Nancy Lindsay; James Demunno; Molly Mason; Dan Donohoo, Thomas Tyrrell; and David Gore. Plaintiffs filed the Complaint after the enactment of Public Act 97-18, signed into law by Governor Quinn on June 28, 2011, which contained reforms to the Workers Compensation Act (Act) (820 ILCS 305/1, et seq.).
One of the provisions of the new legislation provided that Plaintiffs' terms of office as arbitrators expired effective July 1, 2011. In Count I of the Complaint, Plaintiffs allege that their due process rights were violated by the legislation because they were deprived of a property interest in their jobs without due process of law.
Plaintiffs also filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction based on the alleged denial of their property interest in their jobs as arbitrators. Plaintiffs have asked this Court to grant them a preliminary injunction prohibiting Defendants from removing them from office or from appointing anyone to those terms of office pending trial in this cause.
This Court held an evidentiary hearing on July 28, 2011, on the Motion for Preliminary Injunction. At the hearing, the parties tendered an Amended Stipulation (Joint Exhibit No. 1, d/e 11) of facts solely for the purpose of the hearing.
Based on the pleadings, the Amended Stipulation, and arguments made at the hearing, this Court denies the Motion for Preliminary Injunction. Plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate: (1) a likelihood of success on the merits; (2) they have no adequate remedy at law; and (3) irreparable harm will be suffered if the preliminary injunction is not granted. Further, even if Plaintiffs had demonstrated some likelihood of success on the merits, no adequate remedy at law, and irreparable harm, the balance of factors do not heavily weigh in Plaintiffs' favor. Despite the Plaintiffs' unfortunate plight, Plaintiffs are not entitled to a preliminary injunction for these reasons.
The following facts are taken from the parties' Amended Stipulation and the Complaint.
Plaintiffs are all arbitrators under the Act. Hagan was appointed to the position of arbitrator effective July 1989, and Galicia was appointed in 1984. Hagan's and Galicia's appointments, in accordance with State law at the time, had no set termination date and they served under the protections of the Illinois Personnel Code (20 ILCS 415/1, et seq.), including that they could only be removed for just cause.
Prieto, Peterson, and Akemann were appointed subsequent to 1989 and reappointed at various points thereafter for six-year terms. Prieto was last appointed in 2008, Peterson in 2009, and Akemann in 2006. Their appointments, in accordance with State law at that time, had the protections of the Illinois Personnel Code, including protection that they could only be removed for just cause during their six-year term.
After July 2005 and until the recent reform, the Act provided that arbitrators were appointed to specific terms of office subject to reappointment:
Each arbitrator appointed after the effective date of this amendatory Act of 1989 shall be appointed for a term of 6 years. Each arbitrator shall be appointed for a subsequent term unless the Chairman makes a recommendation to the Commission, no later than 60 days prior to the expiration of the term, not to reappoint the arbitrator. Notice of such a recommendation shall also be given to the arbitrator no later than 60 days prior to the expiration of the term. Upon such recommendation by the Chairman, the arbitrator shall be appointed for a subsequent term unless 8 of 10 members of the Commission, including the Chairman, vote not to reappoint the arbitrator. 820 ILCS 305/14. Public Act 97-18 removed this provision and added the following:
Notwithstanding any other provision of this Section, the term of all arbitrators serving on the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 97th General Assembly, including any arbitrators on administrative leave, shall terminate at the close of business on July 1, 2011, but the incumbents shall continue to exercise all of their duties until they are reappointed or their successors are appointed.
The parties stipulated that Plaintiffs continue to serve until their successors are duly appointed. The parties further stipulated that Plaintiffs may apply for the positions and, therefore, may be the successors. The amendments made pursuant to Public Act 97-18 also provided for three-year terms and required that all arbitrators who had not previously served as arbitrators be authorized to practice law in Illinois.
The Act, as amended, still provides that "[a]ll arbitrators shall be subject to the provisions of the Personnel Code," but now also states: "The changes made to this Section by this amendatory Act of the 97th General Assembly shall prevail over any conflict with the Personnel Code."
The parties stipulated that Plaintiffs have not been given notice of any charges that would constitute legal cause for terminating their employment. No such charges are pending against Plaintiffs.
"[A] preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy, one that should not be granted unless the movant, by a clear showing, carries the burden of persuasion." Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972 (1997) (citation omitted). A party seeking a preliminary injunction must initially demonstrate: (1) some likelihood of succeeding on the merits; (2) no adequate remedy at law exists; and (3) irreparable harm if preliminary relief is denied. Girl Scouts of Manitou Council, Inc. v. Girl Scouts of the United States of America, Inc., 549 F.3d 1079, 1086 (7th Cir. 2008). If the moving party does not demonstrate any one of these three initial requirements, the request for a preliminary injunction must be denied. Id.
If, however, the party has met the initial threshold, the Court then "weighs the irreparable harm that the moving party would endure without the protection of the preliminary injunction against any irreparable harm the nonmoving party would suffer if the court were to grant the requested relief." Id. When balancing the harms, the Court employs a sliding-scale approach. See Roland Machinery Co. v. Dresser Industries, Inc., 749 F.2d 380, 388 (7th Cir. 1984). That is, the greater the movant's chance of success, the less strong of a showing the movant must make that the balance of harms is in the movant's favor, and vice versa. Id. at 387. In balancing the harm to each party, ...