September 22, 2016
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 13-cv-2262 - Joan
B. Gottschall, Judge.
Bauer, Posner, and Manion, Circuit Judges.
Manion, Circuit Judge.
2013, Illinois state prison inmate Donald McDonald filed what
should have been a typical federal constitutional suit under
42 U.S.C. § 1983. McDonald alleged that Defendants
Warden Marcus Hardy, Assistant Warden Daryl Edwards, and
Chaplain George Adamson were denying his First Amendment free
exercise rights as a practicing Muslim. He sought only
injunctive relief in the district court.
case hit a procedural snag because three years earlier he had
filed a claim for damages based on the same facts in the
Illinois Court of Claims. More than two years later, when he
had received no decision from the Court of Claims, he filed
this case pro se in the district court. After the
Court of Claims denied McDonald's request for relief, the
district court dismissed his federal complaint as barred by
appeal, defendants concede that McDonald's suit is not
barred by res judicata. Therefore, we reverse the
judgment of the district court and remand for proceedings in
conformity with this opinion. We express no opinion regarding
the merits of defendants' remaining arguments on appeal,
which are not properly before the court at this stage.
McDonald is an inmate at Stateville Correctional Center in
Crest Hill, Illinois. On July 23, 2010, he filed a complaint
in the Illinois Court of Claims against the Illinois
Department of Corrections for violation of his free exercise
rights. In his complaint, McDonald alleged, inter
alia, that Muslim inmates at Stateville are not
permitted to attend prayer service each Friday, that prison
officials regularly steal Arabic prayer cassette tapes and
Muslim prayer rugs, and that Christians are permitted to have
more volunteers enter the facility than are Muslims. He
sought a damages award of $5, 000 and an order requiring the
Department to cease violating his religious
Court of Claims held a hearing on McDonald's claims, but
it then failed to issue a decision for more than two years.
While he was awaiting that decision, McDonald filed this case
in the district court on March 14, 2013. His pro se
complaint named Chaplain George Adamson, Warden Marcus Hardy,
and Assistant Warden Daryl Edwards as defendants in their
official capacities. It sought only injunctive relief.
Although the factual allegations in the federal complaint
differ in some small respects from the Court of Claims
filing, McDonald clearly considered it part of the same case
he had filed in 2010.
24, 2013, the Court of Claims finally issued a decision in
McDonald's original case. The court rejected all of
McDonald's allegations in a terse two-page order. The
order directly addressed only one of McDonald's factual
allegations, stating that evidence indicated that Muslim
services occurred each Friday at Stateville unless the
facility was on lock-down. Defendants then moved to dismiss
the federal complaint, arguing that the Court of Claims order
rendered McDonald's federal complaint barred by res
judicata. The district court granted the motion, and
McDonald timely appealed.
review the grant of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)
de novo; we accept all facts pleaded as true and
draw all reasonable inferences in McDonald's favor.
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