Name of Assigned Judge Frederick J. Kapala Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge than Assigned Judge
Defendants' motions to dismiss  are granted. This case is closed.
O[ For further details see text below.] Docketing to mail notices.
Plaintiff, George Ennenga, has filed a pro se two-count amended complaint against Byron and Constance Starns as well as Steven and Kathleen Glaze. Byron and Constance are plaintiff's brother-in-law and sister. The Glazes are the purchasers of the Ennenga family homestead in Cedarville, Illinois. In Count I, plaintiff brings a claim against Byron Starns, as trustee of plaintiff's deceased parents' trust, for allegedly breaching his fiduciary duty to the trust by selling the Ennenga family homestead to the Glazes for an amount that was less than plaintiff offered to pay for the property. In Count II, plaintiff brings a civil conspiracy claim against all four defendants alleging that they conspired to refuse to sell the property to him. Plaintiff previously conceded that Byron Starns should be dismissed from this case, and the court accepted the report and recommendation of the magistrate judge to dismiss this case with prejudice as to Byron Starns. As a result, just Count II remains pending against Constance Starns and the Glazes.
Before the court are separate motions to dismiss filed by Constance Starns and the Glazes pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). All three defendants contend that plaintiff has failed to state a claim in Count II upon which relief can be granted. In addition, Constance Starns contends that plaintiff's claim against her is barred by res judicata. In his response to the motions, plaintiff states that the "amended complaint specifies the issues to the degree possible without having taken any discovery." Plaintiff does not address Constance Starns' res judicata contention. For the reasons that follow, defendants' motions to dismiss are granted.
In August 2005, plaintiff sued Byron Starns and another lawyer in the Circuit Court for the 15th Judicial Circuit, Stephenson County, Illinois, to enjoin the sale of the family homestead to the Glazes. The Circuit Court entered an order on November 16, 2005, involuntarily dismissing that lawsuit. On June 19, 2006, plaintiff filed suit in this court against Byron Starns and various other lawyers and law firms, alleging legal malpractice in connection with the creation of plaintiff's parents' estate plan and that Byron Starns breached his fiduciary duty to the trust by selling the family homestead to the Glazes for less than plaintiff offered to pay for the property. After dismissing various claims, this court entered summary judgment for defendants on the remaining claims on July 17, 2009. See Ennenga v. Starns, No. 06 C 50117, doc. 159. Plaintiff appealed and the Seventh Circuit affirmed. Ennenga v. Starns, ___ F.3d ___, 2012 WL 1292768 (7th Cir. Apr. 17, 2012).
Plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit on August 10, 2010. The court dismissed plaintiff's initial complaint in August 2011 and gave plaintiff leave to replead. In Count II of his amended complaint, plaintiff alleges:
23. Byron and Constance sold the Property to Glazes as a means to defeat Plaintiff's desire to own the Property.
24. Glazes conspired to purchase the Property knowing of and as participants in the conspiracy of Constance and Byron.
25. Defendants conspired to refuse to sell the property to Plaintiff and instead to sell the Property to Glazes, despite the fact that their offer was significantly less than Plaintiff's offer.
Constance Starns contends that plaintiff's claim against her is barred by res judicata and therefore must be dismissed with prejudice. "Res judicata applies if there is (1) a final judgment on the merits in an earlier action; (2) an identity of the causes of action; and (3) an identity of parties or their privies." Starns, 2012 WL 1292768, at *8; see also River Park, Inc. v. City of Highland Park, 184 Ill. 2d 290, 302 (1998). Importantly, "res judicata bars not only those issues which were actually decided in a prior suit, but also all issues which could have been raised in that action." Highway J Citizens Grp. v. U.S. Dep't of Transp., 456 F.3d 734, 741 (7th Cir. 2006) (quotation marks omitted); see also River Park, 184 Ill. 2d at 302. Illinois courts recognize an identity of cause of action despite "the assertion of different kinds or theories of relief . . . if a ...