MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JOAN B. GOTTSCHALL, District Judge.
This action stems from plaintiff George Gottlieb's termination from his position with the Illinois Liquor Commission as a Public Service Administrator. Gottlieb contends that he exercised his constitutional right as a public employee to speak on a matter of public concern and, in return, was fired based on false accusations of battery. The defendants (the Illinois Liquor Commission, the Illinois Department of Revenue, and staff employed by these entities) move to dismiss Gottlieb's § 1983 claims and a related state law claim, contending they are barred due to prior administrative and criminal proceedings and, in the alternative, fail on the merits. For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss is granted in part and denied in part. Specifically, Gottlieb's claims against the Illinois Liquor Commission and the Illinois Department of Revenue are dismissed with prejudice and his federal claims against the individual defendants are dismissed without prejudice. In light of the dismissal of the federal claims, the court will decide whether to retain jurisdiction over Gottlieb's state law claim if he is able to amend his complaint to state a colorable federal claim. Alternatively, if Gottlieb decides not to amend his complaint, the court will consider whether to retain jurisdiction over his state law claim at that time.
The following facts are drawn from the amended complaint and are accepted as true for purposes of the motion to dismiss. The Illinois Liquor Control Commission is an agency of the State of Illinois and a part of the Revenue Department. While Gottlieb was employed by the Commission as a Public Services Administrator, Lanie Krozel was the Chief of Staff of the Revenue Department, Richard Haymaker was Chief Counsel of the Illinois Liquor Commission, Gloria Mattere was the Executive Director of the Illinois Liquor Commission, Brian Hamer was the Director of the Illinois Department of Revenue, Stephen Schnorf was the Acting Chair of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, and Sam Esteban, Amy Kurson, Michael McMahon, Bill Morris, Donald O'Connell, and James Pandolfi were members of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.
During his tenure with the Commission, Gottlieb was responsible for enforcing Illinois liquor laws and investigating alleged violations of those laws. Gottlieb contends that Krozel and Haymaker disliked him because he was affiliated with the Republican Party of the State of Illinois. He also alleges they were unhappy with him based on his investigation of the V-Live Nite Club in Chicago, his reports to supervisors about the investigation, his claim that Christopher Kelly (the now-deceased aide to former Governor Blagojevich who was Krozel's friend and supported her politically) was financially involved in the V-Live Nite Club, and his comments to the media about misconduct by his superiors, including Krozel and Haymaker, relating to the V-Live Nite Club's liquor license.
On January 4, 2010, Gottlieb visited the Liquor Commission's office in Chicago to pick up supplies. While he was there, he saw Krozel and Haymaker, who were the only other people in the office that day. According to Gottlieb, he chatted with Krozel and Haymayer and then left without incident. Gottlieb claims that based on their dislike of him, Krozel and Haymaker conspired to have him disciplined by agreeing to falsely accuse him of hitting Krozel during the office visit while Haymaker looked on.
Gottlieb was terminated based on the alleged battery. He challenged his termination before the Illinois Civil Service Commission but lost because Krozel and Haymaker falsely testified that he hit Krozel. Gottlieb did not seek administrative review of this decision. Krozel also filed a battery claim against Gottlieb. Again based upon allegedly false testimony by Krozel and Haymaker, Gottlieb was convicted of battery. Gottlieb asserts that he would not have been terminated from his position as a Public Service Administrator or convicted of battery without Krozel and Haymaker's false accusations.
Gottlieb sued: (1) Krozel and Haymaker in their individual and official capacities;
(2) Mattere, Hamer, Schnorf, Esteban, Kurson, McMahon, Morris, O'Connell, and Pandolfi in their official capacities; and (3) the Illinois Liquor Control Commission and the Illinois Department of Revenue. Counts I and II of his amended complaint invoke 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and are entitled, respectively, "Violation of Civil Rights (Liberty)" and "Violation of Civil Rights (Property)." Both counts assert that the defendants violated the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Count III asserts a claim under the Illinois State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, 5 Ill. Comp. Stat. 430/1-1, et seq.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim satisfies this pleading standard when its factual allegations "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56; see also Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 404 (7th Cir. 2010) ("[P]laintiff must give enough details about the subject-matter of the case to present a story that holds together."). For purposes of the motion to dismiss, the court takes all facts alleged in the plaintiff's complaint as true and draws all reasonable inferences from those facts in his favor, although conclusory allegations that merely recite the elements of a claim are not entitled to this presumption of truth. Virnich v. Vorwald, 664 F.3d 206, 212 (7th Cir. 2011).
The defendants ask the court to dismiss the amended complaint, contending that sovereign immunity bars Gottlieb's § 1983 claims against the Illinois Department of Revenue and Illinois Liquor Control Commission and the individual defendants in their official capacities. Alternatively, they contend that under the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel, Gottlieb's unsuccessful challenge to his termination before the Illinois Civil Service Commission and his state court battery conviction bar him from re-litigating why he was terminated and whether he committed battery. As a second fall-back argument, they assert that the amended complaint fails to state a claim for which relief may be ...