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Childress v. Dart

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

June 19, 2013

LOUIS CHILDRESS, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS DART, Sheriff of Cook County, and COOK COUNTY, Illinois, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge.

Plaintiff Louis Childress filed suit against Thomas Dart, the Sheriff of Cook County, Illinois, and Cook County, Illinois, alleging five counts: (I) employment discrimination on the basis of race; (II) a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"); (III) a violation of the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"); (IV) unlawful retaliation; and (V) indemnification against Cook County. Defendants move to dismiss the Complaint, arguing Childress failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Defendants further argue Childress's Complaint should be dismissed under the arguments of res judicata and the statute of limitations. The Motion has been fully briefed. For the reasons provided below, Defendants' Motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are based on the Complaint and attached exhibits and are accepted as true for purposes of the Motion to Dismiss. See Reger Dev., LLC v. Nat'l City Bank, 592 F.3d 759, 763 (7th Cir. 2010). A district court "may also take judicial notice of matters of public record without converting a 12(b)(6) motion into a motion for summary judgment." Henson v. CSC Credit Services, 29 F.3d 280, 284 (7th Cir. 1994) (quotations and citations omitted).

Childress is a Deputy Sheriff, employed by the Cook County Sheriff's Department; Childress serves as a corrections officer in the Cook County Jail. (Compl. ¶ 3.) Plaintiff is a black male and has sleep apnea, arthritis, fibromyalgia "and other disabling conditions." (Compl. ¶¶ 4, 6.) Childress's physician determined in 2007[1] that Childress should have a first floor assignment, in order to relieve the strain Childress endures when he ascends staircases. ( Id. ¶ 7.) Rosemarie Nolan, a director of personnel for Defendants, advised Childress he must convince his physician to remove this restriction, or Childress would not be permitted to work for Defendants. ( Id. ¶ 8.) Childress was denied accommodation, though similarly situated white individuals have been offered restricted assignments to accommodate their conditions. ( Id. ¶ 9.)

Childress filed a charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and also filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). ( Id. ¶ 19.) The IDHR issued a Notice of Dismissal for Failure to Proceed. (Def.'s Mot. Ex. D.) In this Notice, the IDHR indicated that on August 9, 2011, Childress and his attorney, Michael J. Greco, would attend a fact-finding conference on October 11, 2011, at 11:00 a.m., and notice of this conference was sent to Childress. ( Id. ) However, neither Childress nor Greco attended the fact-finding conference on October 11, 2011. ( Id. ) Greco contacted the IDHR thereafter and "stated that he did not have it down for that date and that he had trial on that date. Greco offered no further explanation for either his or [Childress's] non-attendance." ( Id. ) The EEOC issued a Right-to-Sue Letter to Childress on May 30, 2012. (Compl. ¶ 20.) The EEOC noted that it had "adopted the findings of the state or local fair employment practices agency that investigated this charge." ( Id. Ex. 1.)

Childress further alleges that by failing to provide him with reasonable accommodations for his disabilities, Defendants violated the ADA. ( Id. ¶¶ 41-46.) Childress also claims that Defendants' personnel have visited his home when he takes authorized medical leave, in violation of the FMLA. ( Id. ¶¶ 67-69.) Childress further seeks to indemnify Cook County, Illinois, for any liability or judgment entered against Defendant Dart. ( Id. ¶¶ 112-114.)

In Count IV of the Complaint, Childress asserts he has been discriminated against and retaliated against for filing a previous complaint against the same Defendants. ( Id. ¶¶ 90-91.)

This allegation, however, ignores a great deal of background information that is pertinent to the analysis below. On May 14, 2008, Childress, in conjunction with eleven other plaintiffs, all represented by Greco, filed a Complaint against Dart, Cook County, and other defendants. See Ammons v. Cook County, No. 08-cv-02779, Dkt. No. 1 (N.D. Ill. May 14, 2008). Then, after missing deadlines and requesting four extensions of time, Childress was given leave by Judge Castillo, the district court judge assigned to the Ammons case, to file a separate lawsuit by October 8, 2009. Ammons v. Cook County, No. 08-cv-02779, Dkt. No. 40 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 8, 2009). Childress filed this separate lawsuit on October 8, 2009, and it was assigned to Judge Der-Yeghiayan. Childress v. Dart, Case No. 09-cv-06332, Dkt. No. 1 (N.D. Ill. October 8, 2009) ( Childress I ).

On February 3, 2010, Defendants in Childress I presented their motion to dismiss the complaint; Greco failed to appear at the motion hearing on behalf of Childress and was warned that failure to appear at a noticed status hearing "may result in a dismissal of the action pursuant to Local Rule 41.1." Childress I, Case No. 09-cv-06332, Dkt. No. 10 (N.D. Ill. February 3, 2010). On March 18, 2010, Judge Der-Yeghiayan terminated the case after Greco failed to appear on behalf of Childress's noticed motion for leave to amend the complaint; Judge Der-Yeghiayan noted Childress also failed to timely respond to Defendants' motion to dismiss. Id. at Dkt. No. 13.

Childress filed a motion to reinstate the case and for leave to file an amended complaint on March 28, 2010; there, Judge Der-Yeghiayan denied the motion, but gave Childress leave to renew his motion to reinstate the case, provided Childress include a "sufficient explanation for Childress' failure to respond to Defendants' motion to dismiss or file his motion to amend the complaint..." in a timely manner. Id. at Dkt. No. 16. Childress's amended motion to reinstate the case was denied. Judge Der-Yeghiayan explained, in detail, the procedural posture of Childress's previously filed complaint:

Childress has not exercised due diligence in the prosecution of his case since the very beginning. Childress initially filed this action (as Case No. 08 C 2779) in May 2008.... In September 2008, [Judge Castillo] severed Childress' case from those of his co-plaintiffs, and dismissed Childress' complaint without prejudice. At that time, Childress was given until October 28, 2008, to file an individual complaint. Childress failed to file his individual complaint by the deadline given, and six months later, on March 20, 2009, Childress filed an amended complaint under the original case number that did not comport with [Judge Castillo's] September 2008 order. Therefore, on April 1, 2009, Childress' amended complaint was dismissed without prejudice, and Childress was given thirty days in which to file an individual complaint consistent with the judge's earlier order.
Childress failed to file an individual complaint within the thirty days given, and instead, on May 1, 2009, Childress filed a motion for an extension of time to file his individual complaint. Childress' motion was granted, making Childress' deadline to file his individual complaint May 15, 2009. On May 15, 2009, Childress filed a second motion for an extension of time. Childress' second motion was also granted, making Childress' new deadline to file his individual complaint May 29, 2009. On May 29, 2009, Childress filed a third motion for an extension of time, which was again granted, making Childress' deadline to file his individual complaint June 12, 2009. In each motion for an extension, Childress' attorney represented that he had been working on other cases or had not had time to prepare the individual complaint, while at the same time arguing that his motion should be granted because preparing the individual complaint would only require him to break out in separate counts the allegations and cause of action already asserted in the original complaint he filed.
In spite of the extensions Childress was granted, June 12, 2009 came and went with no filing by Childress. On September 8, 2009, nearly three months after the deadline had passed, Childress filed a motion for leave to file his individual complaint. Despite Childress' flagrant violations of earlier-set deadlines, [Judge Castillo] granted Childress' motion and gave Childress until October 8, 2009, to file his individual ...

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