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Robert L. Davis v. City of Springfield and United States of America

November 9, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sue E. Myerscough, United States District Judge.


Friday, 09 November, 2012 04:49:43 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD


This cause is before the Court on Defendant City of Springfield's Motion to Dismiss Complaint (d/e 42). Because Plaintiff's federal and state claims accrued long before Plaintiff filed suit, the claims are barred by the statute of limitations. Therefore, the Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.


Plaintiff Robert L. Davis filed this lawsuit pro se on January 3, 2012. Because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court liberally construes the facts. See McGowan v. Hulick, 612 F.3d 636, 640 (7th Cir. 2010) (noting that the district court must construe a pro se complaint liberally). The following facts are taken from Plaintiff's various pleadings rather than focusing solely on Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (d/e 35) and Attachments (d/e 36).

Around 2004, Plaintiff began participating in a program through the City of Springfield Office of Planning and Economic Development (OPED) that received federal funding. Under the program, Plaintiff's property would be rehabilitated at no cost to Plaintiff if he stayed in the home for five years. A letter dated September 23, 2009 from OPED to Plaintiff indicates that because five years had passed, the lien on Plaintiff's property from the rehabilitation of the property by OPED was removed and the loan had been forgiven. See Compl., d/e 1, p. 11.

Plaintiff alleged in his original Complaint that he was harassed "all through this program." Compl., d/e 1. Plaintiff specifically complains of the following harassment: (1) the increase in his property taxes, (2) the loss of his employment, and (3) a $55,000 lien on Plaintiff's property that he had to pay $225.00 to have removed.

First, Plaintiff claims that due to mistakes by the City of Springfield and the Tax Assessor's Office*fn1 , the property taxes on his property for 2005 (assessed in 2006) doubled. A May 9, 2006 document in the record indicates that, because the building permits issued by OPED in 2004 had not been completed, the value of Plaintiff's home should not have been increased in 2005. See Display Complaint Detail (Attachment to Sec. Am. Compl. d/e 36, p. 6). Plaintiff disputed the tax increase and, in February 2007, a refund was issued to Plaintiff's mortgage lender. See, e.g., April 22, 2008 Letter from OPED to Congressman Phil Hare (Attachment to Sec. Am. Compl., d/e 36, p. 9); February 2007 check in the amount of $318.66 (Attachment to Sec. Am. Compl., d/e 36, p. 3); and Sangamon County Real Estate Tax Bill (Attachment to Sec. Am. Compl., d/e 36, p. 5).

Nonetheless, Plaintiff alleges the tax increase caused him to lose his home through foreclosure. Specifically, the error caused Plaintiff's mortgage payment to increase because his taxes were escrowed. See Pl. Mem. (d/e 26) ("I the Plaintiff payed [$]1.081.48 on taxes to my mortgage company the way I the plaintiff payed was [$]609.44 dollars a month I the Plaintiff had a fixed mortgage of [$]441.41 but after the mistake I had to pay more money for the mistake"); Sec. Am. Compl. (d/e 35) (alleging that his taxes went up, which caused his monthly payment to increase); Attachment to Sec. Am. Compl. (d/e 36, p. 4) (portion of a document from Plaintiff's mortgage lender showing the amount in taxes paid, escrow advances paid, and principle paid that month). Plaintiff alleges that OPED made the mistakes because Plaintiff is black and OPED had a racially discriminatory motive. See Sec. Am. Compl. (d/e 35).

Second, Plaintiff alleges the City of Springfield caused him to lose his job at Wal-Mart in December 2004. Plaintiff alleged that Becky Jannesse of OPED called and harassed Wal-Mart, apparently by repeatedly asking for employment verification, which caused Wal-Mart to fire Plaintiff. Sec. Am. Compl. (d/e 35).

Third, Plaintiff alleges that OPED hired Zelle Title Company to perform a title search on his property. According to Plaintiff, Zelle Title Company reported a lien of $55,966.43 and Plaintiff had to pay $225 to have the lien removed. Sec. Am. Compl. (d/e 35). These allegations are supported by an August 26, 2003 letter from Zelle Title Company to Rebecca Jannesse of OPED which indicated that a search found several encumbrances on Plaintiff's property, including a Notice of Lien against Plaintiff in the amount of $55,966.43. Attachment (d/e 36, p. 2); see also December 31, 2003 letter from Zelle Title Company to the Illinois Attorney General (Compl., d/e 1, p. 10) (stating that Plaintiff had reported he was not the individual in the Notice of Lien and Zelle Title Company ultimately determined that Zelle could clear the report with an affidavit from Plaintiff).

On August 20, 2012, this Court held a hearing. The Court construed Plaintiff's claims against the City of Springfield as claims pursuant to § 1983, § 1981, and Title VI, as well as a supplemental state law claim for tortious interference with employment. Because Plaintiff sought to sue Michael Farmer, the Director of OPED, only in his official capacity, the Court found the claim against Farmer was duplicative of the suit against the City. The City was granted leave to file a Motion to Dismiss. See Attachment to Sec. Am. Compl. (d/e 36, p. 2).

On September 19, 2012, the City filed its Motion to Dismiss. The City asserts the Second Amended Complaint fails to state a claim. The City also asserts that the claims are barred by the statute of limitations.


A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits dismissal of a complaint for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). For purposes of the motion, a court must accept as true all well-pleaded allegations contained in the complaint and draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Estate of Davis v. Wells Fargo Bank, 633 F.3d 529, 533 (7th Cir. 2011). To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim, the complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). That statement must be sufficient to provide the defendant with "fair notice" of the claim and its basis. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1083 (7th Cir. 2008); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). This means that (1) "the complaint must describe the claim in sufficient detail to give the defendant 'fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests" and (2) its allegations must plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, ...

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