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Gekas v. Vasiliades

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

July 8, 2013

MARK GEKAS, Plaintiff,
v.
PETER VASILIADES, MARY RANIELL, JOHN LAGATUTTA, DANIEL BLUTHARDT, JOHN KRISKO, FRANK MAGGIO, ROBERT J. SCHAFER, KAREN SCHROCK, and ALLEN J. SHAPIRO, Defendants.

OPINION

RICHARD MILLS, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is the Motion of the Defendants for Partial Summary Judgment and to Enforce a Settlement Agreement.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On February 13, 2009, Plaintiff Mark Gekas filed a complaint in Sangamon County Circuit Court against Michael T. McRaith, the Acting Secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation ("IDFPR" or "the Department"). The complaint alleged that the Department failed to comply with the Illinois Freedom of Information ACT ("FOIA") by not producing certain information in response to a December 9, 2008 FOIA request.

On March 3, 2010, the Plaintiff and his Counsel signed a settlement agreement. Counsel for IDFPR signed the agreement on March 11, 2010. The document, which is attached to the Defendants' motion, is titled "Settlement Agreement and General Release of Claim for Attorney's Fees, Costs and Expenses." The "Recitals" portion of the settlement agreement provides in part:

WHEREAS, the Plaintiff has subsequently filed a petition for attorney's fees, costs and expenses (hereinafter referred to as "Petition"); and
WHEREAS, so as to avoid further expense and in recognition of the positions of the parties to the above case, the parties wish to settle and compromise the pending claim for attorney's fees, costs and expenses.

There is no language in the "Recitals" which expresses an intent to settle the alleged "violations of rights protected by statute(s), regulation(s), common law, the Constitution of the State of Illinois and/or the Constitution of the United States, " as asserted in the complaint filed in Sangamon County Circuit Court.

The Plaintiff received $2, 500 as part of the settlement agreement.

The Plaintiff also signed a release and waiver providing that:

The Plaintiff and his attorney agree to release, waive and relinquish and hereby release and forever discharge the Defendant in his individual capacities, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional regulation and the State of Illinois, their agents, former and present employees, successors, heirs and assigns and all other persons (hereinafter "Releases") from all actions, claims, demands, setoffs, suits, causes of action, or rights to attorney's fees, costs and expenses allegedly incurred or due in the action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Section 1988, or under any other statute, rule or common law provision arising from the alleged failure of the Department to comply with the Freedom of Information Act as set forth in the Complaint.

The Plaintiff was represented by counsel and entered into the Agreement "as a free and voluntary act with full knowledge of its legal consequences."

On March 30, 2010, the Plaintiff and his attorney signed a stipulation to dismiss the state court FOIA lawsuit. The stipulation was then signed by counsel for the Defendant and filed on March 31, 2010. On April 2, 2010, the Sangamon County Circuit Court entered an agreed order and dismissed the FOIA lawsuit with prejudice.

On March 18, 2010, the Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this Court. On February 8, 2011, the Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint. The Plaintiff alleges that Defendants, who are current and former employees of the Department, retaliated against him in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution by, among other things, refusing to comply with the FOIA and not adequately ...


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