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Steidl v. Madigan

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Sixth Division

January 8, 2016

GORDON RANDY STEIDL, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
LISA MADIGAN, Defendant-Appellee

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 14 CH 6113. Honorable Rita M. Novak, Judge, Presiding.

         FOR APPELLANT(s): John L. Stainthorp, Jan Susler, G. Flint Taylor, People's Law Office, Chicago, IL.

         FOR APPELLEE(s): Carolyn E. Shapiro, Solicitor General, and Mary E. Welsh, Assistant Attorney General, Chicago, IL.

         JUSTICE HOFFMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Rochford and Justice Delort concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

         HOFFMAN, JUSTICE

          [¶1] The plaintiff, Gordon Randy Steidl, appeals from an order of the circuit court of Cook County dismissing his complaint for mandamus against Lisa Madigan, the Attorney General of Illinois (Attorney General). For the reasons which follow, we affirm.

          [¶2] The facts necessary to a resolution of this appeal are taken from the allegations contained in the plaintiff's complaint and from judicial decisions of which we take judicial notice. The plaintiff was convicted for the 1986 murders of Dyke and Karen Rhoads in Paris, Illinois, and received a death sentence. People v. Steidl, 142 Ill.2d 204, 218, 568 N.E.2d 837, 154 Ill.Dec. 616 (1991). His sentence was later reduced to life imprisonment. On June 17, 2003, the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois (District Court) granted the plaintiff's habeas corpus petition, vacated his convictions and ordered that he be retried within 120 days or be released. Steidl v. Walls, 267 F.Supp.2d 919, 941 (C.D. Ill. 2003). The State elected not to appeal that order, and the plaintiff was released from prison.

          [¶3] Following his release, the plaintiff filed a civil rights action in the District Court against a number of individuals and entities involved in his prosecution, including Michael McFatridge, the elected State's Attorney of Edgar County, Illinois, who prosecuted the plaintiff. The plaintiff asserted claims against McFatridge under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for false imprisonment, wrongful conviction, and violations of his right to due process. In addition, the plaintiff asserted Illinois common law claims against McFatridge for false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and conspiracy.

          [¶4] In June 2005, McFatridge made a demand pursuant to section 2 of the State Employee Indemnification Act (Act) (5 ILCS 350/2 (West 2004)) upon the Attorney General for representation in the civil rights action. McFatridge v. Madigan, 2013 IL 113676, ¶ 6, 989 N.E.2d 165, 989 N.E.2d 165. By letter dated July 6, 2005, the Attorney General declined the request, stating that the claims pending against McFatridge contain allegations of acts and omissions of intentional, willful and wanton misconduct. Id., ¶ 7.

          [¶5] On March 27, 2013, the District Court entered a " Consent Judgment" against McFatridge and other defendants in the civil rights action. The Consent Judgment contained findings that, at all times relevant, McFatridge had acted within the scope of his employment and that his actions or inactions were intended to serve and benefit the interests of the State of Illinois. Judgment in the sum of $2 million plus interest was entered in favor of the plaintiff and against McFatridge. According to the Consent Judgment, Edgar County and its insurers agreed to pay the plaintiff $375,000 in partial satisfaction of the judgment entered against McFatridge. It also states that McFatridge had assigned his claim for indemnification from the State of Illinois for the remaining portion of the judgment against him in the amount of " $1,650,000.00 [ sic ]" together with post-judgment interest to the plaintiff in exchange for the plaintiff's covenant not to execute on any portion of the judgment against McFatridge and his personal assets.

          [¶6] On April 24, 2013, the plaintiff, as assignee of McFatridge, made a formal demand on the State of Illinois and the Attorney General pursuant to section 2 of the Act (5 ILCS 350/2 (West 2012)) for full payment of the outstanding $1.65 million judgment against McFatridge together with post-judgment interest. On May 24, 2013, the Attorney General rejected the plaintiff's demand, asserting that McFatridge had no right to indemnification as: the acts and omissions upon which the judgment against him was based were intentional, willful or wanton; no court or jury has found that his acts or omissions were not intentional, willful or wanton; and the Attorney General had not approved the settlement between the plaintiff and McFatridge.

          [¶7] On April 9, 2014, the plaintiff filed the instant action for mandamus, seeking an order directing the Attorney General to certify for payment from the State Treasury the unpaid portion of the judgment against McFatridge plus post-judgment interest. As her responsive pleading, the Attorney General filed a combined motion to dismiss under section 2-619.1 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-619.1 (West 2014)). The Attorney General sought dismissal under section 2-615 of the Code (735 ILCS 5/2-619.1 (West 2014)), alleging that the plaintiff's complaint failed to state a cause of action for mandamus ; and under section 2-619(a)(4) of the Code (735 ILCS 5/2-619(a)(4) (West 2014)), alleging that the action is barred by another judgment. On December 4, 2014, the circuit court entered a memorandum decision and order in which it denied the Attorney General's motion to dismiss on section 2-619(a)(4) grounds and granted the motion to dismiss on section 2-615 grounds, finding that the plaintiff failed to state a claim for mandamus, as McFatridge had no indemnification rights under the Act to assign to the plaintiff. This appeal followed.

          [¶8] As this case comes to us on appeal from a dismissal pursuant to section 2-615 of the Code, our review is de novo. King v. First Capital Financial Services Corp., 215 Ill.2d 1, 12, 828 N.E.2d 1155, 293 Ill.Dec. 657 (2005). The issue presented is whether the allegations contained in the plaintiff's complaint, taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, are sufficient to state a cause of action upon which relief may be granted. Id. at 11-12. An action should not be dismissed pursuant to section 2-615 of the Code unless the court is prepared to find that no set of facts can be proven which would entitle the plaintiff to the relief which he seeks. Marshall v. Burger King Corp., 222 Ill.2d 422, 429, 856 N.E.2d 1048, 305 Ill.Dec. 897 (2006).

          [¶9] This appeal calls upon us to determine whether the facts alleged in the plaintiff's complaint entitle him to a writ of mandamus. That is, whether the allegations in the complaint show a clear right of recovery on the part of the plaintiff and a clear, ...


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