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Tartt v. Magna Health Systems

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

August 19, 2014

MAGNA HEALTH SYSTEMS, et al., Defendants.


ROBERT M. DOW, Jr., District Judge.

Currently before the Court are pro se Plaintiff Derrick Tartt's 1060-paragraph, 278-page amended complaint [123], with an additional 364 pages of supporting exhibits [124]; motion for injunctive relief voiding sale and eviction [132]; and motion for default for failure to appear and default judgment and complete service list [134]. For the reasons stated below, the Court on its own motion dismisses with prejudice all of Plaintiff's claims against Judge Posner, Judge Ripple, Judge Easterbrook, Judge Kanne, and Judge Norgle and sanctions Plaintiff pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 in the amount of $100, payable to the Clerk of Court within 28 days of the date of this order. The Court also dismisses with prejudice all claims against Northwest Suburban Anesthesiologists, Ltd., and Northwest Community Healthcare. All of the aforementioned Defendants are terminated from this lawsuit. The Court dismisses with prejudice certain claims against Defendants Illinois Department of Human Resources, the United States of America, and the United States Departments of Labor, Justice, and Defense, as well as Individual Defendants Nagelberg, Kubik, Bridgeforth, Childs, Meshiah, Brohman, and Hucker, and law firm Defendants Kamensky, Rubenstein, Hochman & Delott and McDermott, Will & Emery. The Court dismisses the remainder of Plaintiff's amended complaint without prejudice and gives him one final opportunity to file a complaint that states his remaining claims in compliance with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(a) and 11, provided that Plaintiff also complies with the Court's order to pay the $100 sanction. Plaintiff is given 28 days from the date of this order to do so. Plaintiff's motions for injunctive relief [132] and for default judgment [134] are denied.

I. Background

Plaintiff is an African American anesthesiologist and military reservist who is proceeding pro se in this action. In his sweeping and voluminous amended complaint [123], Plaintiff alleges that the approximately 60 named Defendants participated in a vast campaign of discrimination that began with and snowballed from an allegedly improper delay of his ROTC officer commission in the early 1980s. According to Plaintiff, over the next three decades Defendants "conspired to deny the rights and benefits of military service, civilian employment, insurance claims for person and property, breached contracts, fail[ed] to uphold duty as representative and judicial officers; committed fraud, force[d] the plaintiff into servitude, used enhancement and torture to further their cause of denying benefits of employment.'" [123] ¶ 8. Plaintiff seeks damages from all Defendants, see id. ¶¶ 7-24, as well as various forms of injunctive relief, such as vacatur of the judgments rendered in prior lawsuits in which he has been involved. See, e.g., id. ¶¶ 12, 115, 131, 205-06, 451, 688. Plaintiff also has filed a separate motion for injunctive relief in the form of voiding sale and eviction [132], and another for default judgment against 15 Defendants who had not filed appearances as of April 2, 2014 [134].

II. Discussion

A. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint

In the interest of judicial economy, see Gleash v. Yuswak , 308 F.3d 758, 760 (7th Cir. 2002), the Court has, to the extent possible in light of the prolixity and general unintelligibility of the amended complaint, see United States ex rel. Garst v. Lockheed-Martin Corp. , 328 F.3d 374, 378 (7th Cir. 2003), undertaken a preliminary review of Plaintiff's allegations. The Court may "on its own motion, dismiss a suit based on an affirmative defense that is apparent and unmistakable from the face of a complaint (thus rendering the suit frivolous) before the defendant files an answer." Adams v. Rotkvich , 325 Fed.Appx. 450, 453 n.1 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Walker v. Thompson , 288 F.3d 1005, 1009 (7th Cir. 2002), and Gleash v. Yuswak , 308 F.3d 758, 760 (7th Cir. 2002)). The Court dismisses the claims discussed below with prejudice as patently without merit.

The remainder of Plaintiff's amended complaint - the merits of which the Court has not assessed - is dismissed without prejudice. To the extent that it may contain plausible, meritorious claims, the amended complaint's sheer volume and redundancies render it unintelligible "by scattering and concealing in a morass of irrelevancies the few allegations that matter." Garst , 328 F.3d at 378; see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a); Stanard v. Nygren , 658 F.3d 792, 798 (7th Cir. 2012). Plaintiff's 1060 allegations span nearly 300 pages and name approximately 60 Defendants, making it nearly impossible to ascertain the contours and machinations of the alleged conspiracy or conspiracies. "Rule 8(a) requires parties to make their pleadings straightforward, so that judges and adverse parties need not try to fish a gold coin from a bucket of mud." Garst , 328 F.3d at 378. This rule applies to pro se plaintiffs just as it does to those represented by counsel. See, e.g., Jones v. Phipps , 39 F.3d 158, 163 (7th Cir. 1994). Plaintiff, who has a post-graduate education, is given one final opportunity to raise his surviving claims in an intelligible, short, and plain pleading as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8. Plaintiff may submit a final amended complaint within 28 days of the date of this order. Plaintiff is cautioned that sanctions may be imposed if he persists in asserting claims that have been dismissed with prejudice.

1. Northwest Suburban Anesthesiologists & Northwest Community Hospital

In November 2000, Defendant Northwest Suburban Anesthesiologists ("NSA") terminated Plaintiff's employment. Tartt v. Nw. Cmty. Hosp. , 453 F.3d 817, 819 (7th Cir. 2006); see also, e.g. , [123] ¶¶ 107, 164, 391. As a result, Plaintiff also lost his staff privileges at Defendant Northwest Community Hospital ("the Hospital"). Tartt , 453 F.3d at 819. In December 2000, Plaintiff filed two lawsuits seeking relief under the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act of 1994, 38 U.S.C. §§ 4301-4333 ("USERRA"), and Title VII. Id. "The first lawsuit, No. 00 C 7959 (7959'), named NSA as the only defendant. The second suit, No. 00 C 7960 (7960'), was filed against both NSA and the Hospital." Id. "The claims raised by the two complaints were identical." Id. In the 7959 and 7960 suits, Plaintiff alleged that "he entered into an employment agreement with NSA in 1993; he entered the military in 1994 and took a leave of absence from NSA; upon his return to NSA he was coerced into signing an amended employment agreement; the amended agreement denied him of retirement benefits, stock ownership, promotions, salary, training, and vacation." Id. at 822. All of the claims that Plaintiff alleged against the Hospital arose from his employment with NSA, which was "the exclusive provider of anesthesiology at the Hospital." Id. at 823. Both suits were assigned to Judge Norgle, who ultimately dismissed the 7959 case on the merits and dismissed the 7960 case on res judicata grounds. See id. at 820-21. Plaintiff appealed the dismissal of the 7960 case to the Seventh Circuit, and an appellate panel consisting of Judges Posner, Ripple, and Kanne affirmed Judge Norgle's ruling. See generally id.

In the instant suit, Plaintiff seeks to assert claims against Defendants NSA, the Hospital, and various individuals affiliated with these entities arising from the alleged injustices he endured from 1993 to 2000. See, e.g. , [123] ¶¶ 99, 103, 107, 122-23, 143, 145-89, 213, 517-56, 564-94, 604-07, 701-02, 838-41, 843-47, 849-68, 865, [1] 869-72, 892-93, 1007-25. (Plaintiff also seeks to assert claims against Judges Norgle, Posner, Ripple, Kanne, and Easterbrook stemming from their actions in connection with the 7959 and 7960 cases. The Court addresses these allegations below.) Most, if not all, of these claims appear to be identical to those advanced in the 7959 and 7960 suits. The Court concludes that all of Plaintiff's claims against NSA and the Hospital plainly arise from the same constellation of facts that was addressed in the 7959 and 7960 suits and accordingly are barred by res judicata.[2]

Res judicata, also known as claim preclusion, is a doctrine that protects the finality of previous judgments by preventing parties from relitigating previously resolved claims. Palka v. City of Chi ., 662 F.3d 428, 437 (7th Cir. 2011). Because the earlier judgments were rendered by federal courts, the Court applies the federal law of claim preclusion. Ross ex rel. Ross v. Bd. of Educ. of Township High Sch. Dist. 211 , 486 F.3d 279, 283 (7th Cir. 2007). Under that law, res judicata applies if there is: "(1) a final judgment on the merits in an earlier action, (2) an identity of the cause of action in both the earlier and later suit, and (3) an identity of parties or privies in the two suits." Tartt , 453 F.3d at 822. All three of these criteria are met here.

First, Plaintiff's claims have been adjudicated to a final judgment on the merits. The 7959 suit was finally resolved on the merits by Judge Norgle in 2003, see id. at 822, and the Seventh Circuit concluded in 2006 that the 7960 suit was the same as the 7959 suit. See generally id. ; see also Bernstein v. Bankert , 733 F.3d 190, 224 (7th Cir. 2013). Second, the causes of actions asserted against NSA and the Hospital in the instant case are the same as those asserted in Plaintiff's prior cases. "Two claims are one for purposes of res judicata if they are based on the same, or nearly the same, factual allegations." Id. ; see also Bernstein , 733 F.3d at 226 ("Federal law defines a cause of action' as a core of operative facts which give rise to a remedy. Accordingly, the test for an identity of the causes of action' is whether the claims arise out of the same set of operative facts or the same transaction." (quotations and citation omitted)). That is, claims are the same if "the underlying allegedly wrongful events are the same." Ross , 486 F.3d at 283. Here, the allegedly wrongful events transpired between 1993 and 2000 and culminated with Plaintiff's termination from NSA and loss of privileges at the Hospital. These same events were the subject of Plaintiff's 7959 and 7960 suits. Even if Plaintiff seeks relief under different legal theories, res judicata prevents the relitigation of claims already litigated as well as those that could ...

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