Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Mustafa v. NSI International, Inc.

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

November 16, 2016

MONA MUSTAFA, Plaintiff(s),
v.
NSI INTERNATIONAL, INC. et al. Defendant(s).

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          John J. Tharp, Jr. Judge

         Plaintiff Mona Mustafa brings suit against her former employer, NSI International, Inc. (“NSI”), and its counsel, Milman Labuda Law Group, PLLC (“MLLG”), alleging that NSI and MLLG retaliated against her, in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a), for filing a disability discrimination complaint. The alleged retaliation? Seeking to enforce settlement agreements in which Mustafa released her discrimination and retaliation claims. Mustafa also alleges that the legal complaints NSI and MLLG filed defamed her and that NSI disparaged her in a remark made to an industry recruiter by an NSI employee. Finally, Mustafa alleges that MLLG committed legal malpractice-against her-by practicing law in Illinois without being licensed to do so, in violation of Supreme Court Rule 707. NSI and MLLG moved to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and for sanctions under Fed.R.Civ.P. 11. Because her claims are time-barred and fail to state any plausible claim, the motion to dismiss is granted. Further, the Court finds that the claims Mustafa has asserted in this suit are frivolous and likely intended to harass the defendants, and therefore grants the motion for sanctions.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         Mustafa claims that she began working for NSI in July 2007, and that NSI terminated her employment on December 12, 2008. Compl. ¶ 17, ECF No. 1. Mustafa is currently a citizen of Illinois, while NSI is a Delaware corporation headquartered in New York. Id. at 2. When she was employed by NSI, Mustafa worked in Lake Villa, Illinois. Id. at ¶ 17. NSI has asserted it terminated Mustafa for poor work performance, but Mustafa claims NSI began discriminating against her on the basis of a disability (breast cancer) several months before her termination and that its discrimination has continued to the present. See Compl. ¶18; NSI Int'l, Inc. v. Mustafa (“NSI I”), No. 09-CV-1536(JFB)(AKT), 2009 WL 2601299, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 20, 2009). Following her termination, Mustafa did not go gently into that good night, [2] but instead began an aggressive campaign of litigation against NSI and its law firm, MLLG.

         On March 5, 2009, Mustafa filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) alleging employment discrimination against NSI on the basis of her disability because she was fired without being given a reason. See Compl. Ex. 11. (Mustafa's original discrimination complaint will be referred to as Mustafa I). On March 18, 2009, NSI filed suit against Mustafa in New York state court, which Mustafa removed to federal court on April 14, 2009 (No. 09-cv-01536). In the New York case (hereafter, NSI I), NSI alleged that by filing her IDHR complaint, Mustafa had violated a previous verbal settlement agreement. NSI I, 2009 WL 2601299, at *1-2. Mustafa then filed a second IDHR complaint (Mustafa II) on September 15, 2009 alleging that NSI had retaliated against her for filing the previous IDHR complaint by filing the NSI I state court suit. See Compl. ¶ 20; IDHR Compl. at ¶ 8, ECF No. 20, Ex. D. On August 9, 2010, Mustafa withdrew Mustafa I, her original IDHR complaint of employment discrimination regarding her termination. See NSI Int'l, Inc. v. Mustafa (“NSI II”), No. CV125528JFBAKT, 2014 WL 12539347, at *3 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 25, 2014), report and recommendation adopted, No. 12-CV-5528 JFB AKT, 2014 WL 1232941 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 26, 2014), aff'd, 613 F.App'x 84 (2d Cir. 2015). Mustafa II, however, remained pending.

         In July 2011, Mustafa and NSI entered into a written agreement to settle NSI I as well as Mustafa's administrative agency claims, including Mustafa II.[3] See Agreement and Release, ECF No. 20, Ex. C. In that agreement, NSI agreed to pay Mustafa $60, 000, and Mustafa agreed to withdraw and waive any and all claims against NSI. Id. Mustafa alleges that, at some point after signing this agreement, an NSI employee named Brian Waldman made a disparaging comment about her to an industry recruiter. Compl. ¶ 85. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, NSI's suit against Mustafa was dismissed, but Mustafa did not reciprocate by withdrawing her pending retaliation complaint (Mustafa II) with the IDHR. Nevertheless, it appears that at NSI's request her retaliation claim was dismissed by the IDHR at some point due to a lack of substantial evidence establishing a prima facie case of harassment. See Compl. Ex. 13 at 2. Neither party provided any record of this decision, but Mustafa included with her complaint the decision of the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“IHRC”), which adjudicates appeals from IDHR decisions not to proceed with cases and reviews claims that do proceed on the merits. The IHRC revived Mustafa's IDHR retaliation claim on appeal, finding that Mustafa had established a prima facie case of harassment by NSI. See Id. at 3. That decision is dated August 8, 2012, well after Mustafa and NSI had signed the written settlement of her claims in July 2011. See Id. at 4. Mustafa appears to have continued pursuing the IDHR claim from August of 2012, when she received a notice of substantial evidence (see Compl. Ex. 12), until June 28, 2013, when the IHRC[4] found that the complaint was frivolous and recommended dismissal with sanctions. See ECF No. 20, Ex. E and F. That recommendation was ultimately approved by the IHRC on October 28, 2014. See ECF. No. 20, Ex. G. That approval ended the proceedings on Mustafa's second IDHR complaint (which, again, had alleged retaliation for the filing of her first IDHR claim, which had alleged discrimination).

         On November 8, 2012, while Mustafa continued to pursue her IDHR retaliation claim, NSI filed a second complaint (NSI II) in the Eastern District of New York, asserting that Mustafa was in breach of the 2011 settlement agreement. See NSI II, 2014 WL 12539347, at *4. NSI was granted summary judgment on this breach of contract claim on February 25, 2014. See NSI II, 2014 WL 12539347 at *15; NSI Int'l, Inc. v. Mustafa, No. 12-CV-5528 JFB AKT, 2014 WL 1232941, at *5 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 26, 2014), aff'd, 613 F.App'x 84 (2d Cir. 2015). The judge presiding over that case (Judge Bianco) awarded NSI $80, 645 in damages for Mustafa's breach of the signed settlement agreement by continuing her complaints against NSI. See Judgment, ECF No. 20, Ex. A and B. Mustafa appealed that Court's grant of summary judgment, but the Second Circuit affirmed the decision on August 25, 2015. See NSI Int'l, Inc. v. Mustafa, 613 F.App'x 84, 85 (2d Cir. 2015). Unbowed following the Second Circuit's decision, Mustafa refused to produce post-judgment information needed by NSI's counsel and continued filing motions for reconsideration that attempted to relitigate the New York case. See NSI Int'l, Inc. v. Mustafa, No. CV125528JFBAKT, 2016 WL 3014666, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. May 24, 2016). As of the date of this order, Mustafa has an appeal of Judge Bianco's judgment on attorney fees pending while Judge Bianco has recently denied Mustafa's motions for a new trial and motions to compel. See NSI II, Dkt. 138-140.

         In March of 2015, Mustafa opened up a second front here in Illinois. While her appeal to the Second Circuit was ongoing, Mustafa filed another discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Chicago alleging NSI was discriminating against her by filing “legal actions” against her (Mustafa III). Compl. Ex. 1 at 1. The EEOC closed its file and issued a right to sue letter on May 15, 2015. Id. at 2. This is the right to sue letter under which Mustafa filed the present case.

         After the filing of Mustafa III, NSI requested that Judge Bianco issue a litigation injunction barring Mustafa from filing “any actions in any court or administrative agency in the United States without first obtaining permission from this Court.” NSI Int'l v. Mustafa, No. 12-CV-5528JFBAKT, ECF. No. 89 (March 19, 2015). In an unpublished order, Judge Bianco denied the request, noting that such requests are subject to a “heightened standard” and none of Mustafa's lawsuits at that time had been deemed frivolous.[5] NSI Int'l v. Mustafa, No. 12-CV-5528JFBAKT, ECF. No. 92 (filed as Compl. Ex. 20). However, Judge Bianco warned Mustafa that “any future frivolous filings may result in sanctions, including a litigation injunction.” Id.

         Throughout this process, MLLG has represented NSI and Mustafa has brought claims against MLLG and its attorneys on a number of occasions. Mustafa has filed complaints requesting investigation of Joseph Labuda and Jamie Felsen of MLLG by the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission at least three times (in 2010, 2012, and 2015). Compl. ¶ 19. MLLG was admitted to practice law in Illinois pro hac vice by an administrative law judge with the Illinois Human Rights Commission on December 12, 2012. See Order of Human Rights Commission, ECF. No 20, Ex. H. Mustafa's complaint alleges that MLLG has violated Title VII and the Illinois Human Rights Act because MLLG was not admitted to practice by the Illinois Supreme Court, which she believes is the only court able to admit attorneys to practice in any way. See Compl. ¶ 37.

         Mustafa filed this complaint on August 11, 2015. The claims in her complaint are discussed in greater detail below.

         DISCUSSION

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), “a complaint must ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Adams v. City of Indianapolis, 742 F.3d 720, 728 (7th Cir. 2014) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Adams, 742 F.3d at 728 (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). A court must accept all of the plaintiff's factual allegations as true when reviewing the complaint, but conclusory allegations merely restating the elements of a cause of action do not receive this presumption. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Here, Mustafa's claim fails to satisfy this standard because the allegations in her complaint fail to state a plausible claim under Title VII or Illinois defamation law.

         I. Counts I, II, III, and IV: Retaliation Claims

         Mustafa claims that defendants NSI and MLLG retaliated against her (for filing her original IDHR complaint alleging discrimination) in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a), by filing case 09-09931 in New York state court on March 5, 2009 (NSI I) and case 12-5528 in the Eastern District of New York on November 8, 2012 (NSI II). Compl. ΒΆ 35. Additionally, Mustafa claims that NSI and MLLG continued their retaliation against her for filing that initial discrimination complaint by ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.