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Novick v. Staggers

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

December 20, 2012

Corey NOVICK, Plaintiff,
v.
Robin STAGGERS and Victor Roberson, Illinois Department of Children & Family Services and the Office of the Governor, Defendants.

Page 607

Mitchell Bruce Katten, Scott Nelson Gilbert, Katten & Temple LLP, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff.

Deborah Joyce Allen, Sylvia Rios, Illinois Attorney General's Office, Chicago, IL, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HARRY D. LEINENWEBER, District Judge.

Before the Court is the Plaintiff's Motion to Alter or Amend the June 19, 2012 Judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). Although the Court re-examines portions of its earlier ruling, and reaches a different conclusion in regards to whether a prima facie case was established, it ultimately denies the Motion for Reconsideration because qualified immunity still dictates that summary judgment be granted in favor of Defendants.

I. BACKGROUND

The Court presumes the reader's familiarity with its June 19, 2012 opinion and will not repeat in detail the background recited there. To summarize, Plaintiff Corey Novick (" Novick" ) was an attorney for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (" DCFS" ), employed under a four-year contract. Defendant Robin Staggers (" Staggers" ) held various positions at DCFS and at least some testimony indicates she had control over DCFS hiring and firing decisions when Novick's position was not renewed at the end of June of 2007. Defendant Victor Roberson (" Roberson" ) worked in the Office of the Governor (" OG" ) and testimony indicates he had, at a minimum, the ability to influence hiring at DCFS and whether Plaintiff's employment was renewed.

Plaintiff contends his employment contract was not renewed because he cooperated with FBI agents who approached him while investigating possible hiring improprieties at DCFS. He alleges First Amendment retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 and violation of Illinois' State Officials and Employees Ethics Act. 5 ILL. COMP. STAT.. 430/15-10.

Page 608

This Court granted summary judgment for Defendants in its June 19, 2012 opinion. Plaintiff seeks reconsideration under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e).

II. LEGAL STANDARD

" [R]econsideration is appropriate in limited circumstances, such as where (1) the court has patently misunderstood a party; (2) the court has made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented to the court by the parties; (3) the court has made an error not of reasoning but of apprehension; (4) there has been a controlling or significant change in law; or (5) there has been a controlling or significant change in the facts." Citadel Group Ltd. v. Wash. Reg'l Med. Ctr., No. 07-1394, 2011 WL 1811396, at *2, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50894, at *5 (N.D.Ill. May 12, 2011) (internal citations, quotations and ellipses omitted).

III. ANALYSIS

A. First Amendment Retaliation Claim

1. Evidence of Causation Regarding Events Prior to December 2007

Because Plaintiff admitted he never told Defendants (or anyone who could have communicated with Defendants) of his speech to the FBI until a December 2007 conversation with Roberson (six months after his contract expired and he left DCFS), the Court ruled there was no evidence of causation to establish a prima facie case of First Amendment retaliation. Novick v. Staggers et al., ...


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