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Olson v. City of Chicago

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

January 26, 2017

OLSON, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge

         This matter is before the court on Defendant City of Chicago's (City), Defendant County of Cook's (County), Defendant American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employee's (AFSCME), and Defendant Vito Barbara's (Barbara) motions to dismiss. For the reasons stated below, the motions to dismiss are granted in part and the remaining state law claims are dismissed without prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Elizabeth J. Olson and Edward E. Olson allegedly own the property at 3359 S. Lowe Avenue in Chicago, Illinois (Subject Property).

         Defendant Barbara allegedly owns the neighboring property located at 3361 S. Lowe Avenue in Chicago, Illinois (Neighboring Property). Plaintiffs contend that on August 14, 2008, Barbara erected a fence in a walkway between the Subject Property and the Neighboring Property. According to Plaintiffs, the fence is approximately ten to thirteen inches away from the Subject Property and prevents all use and access to the Subject Property. Plaintiffs contend that Defendants engaged in a civil conspiracy to deny Plaintiffs the use of the Subject Property in violation of Plaintiffs' equal protection rights. Plaintiffs include in their complaint claims against all Defendants alleging equal protection violations brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985(3).

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) (Rule 12(b)(1)) requires a court to dismiss an action when it lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1); see also Ezekiel v. Michel, 66 F.3d 894, 897 (7th Cir. 1995)(stating that when reviewing a motion to dismiss brought under Rule 12(b)(1), the court “must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations, and draw reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff”). When subject matter jurisdiction is not apparent on the face of the complaint and is contested, “the district court may properly look beyond the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint . . . to determine whether in fact subject matter jurisdiction exists.” Sapperstein v. Hager, 188 F.3d 852, 855-56 (7th Cir. 1999)(internal quotations omitted)(quoting United Transportation Union v. Gateway Western Railway Co., 78 F.3d 1208, 1210 (7th Cir. 1996)). The burden of proof in regards to a Rule 12(b)(1) motion is on the party asserting that the court has subject matter jurisdiction. Id.

         In ruling on a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the court must draw all reasonable inferences that favor the plaintiff, construe the allegations of the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and accept as true all well-pleaded facts and allegations in the complaint. Appert v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Inc., 673 F.3d 609, 622 (7th Cir. 2012); Thompson v. Ill. Dep't of Prof'l Regulation, 300 F.3d 750, 753 (7th Cir. 2002). A plaintiff is required to include allegations in the complaint that “plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a ‘speculative level'” and “if they do not, the plaintiff pleads itself out of court.” E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Services, Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007)(quoting in part Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007)); see also Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Inc., 673 F.3d at 622 (stating that “[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, ” and that “[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”)(quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009))(internal quotations omitted).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Claims Brought Against the City of Chicago

         In the instant action, Plaintiffs allege that the City participated in a conspiracy to violate Plaintiffs' equal protection rights. The City argues that Plaintiffs' complaint should be dismissed because the claims against the City are barred by res judicata and the complaint was not filed within the statute of limitations period.

         A. Res Judicata

         The City argues that Plaintiffs' claims brought against the City are barred by the doctrine of res judicata. Under the doctrine of res judicata, “a final judgment on the merits of an action precludes the parties or their privies from relitigating issues that were or could have been raised in that action.” Barr v. Bd. of Trustees of W. Illinois Univ., 796 F.3d 837, 839 (7th Cir. 2015)(internal quotations omitted)(quoting Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 94 (1980)). In Illinois, a party seeking to invoke the doctrine of res judicata must show: (1) that there was “a final judgment on the merits rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction, ” (2) that the prior action was “the same cause of action, ” and (3) that the prior action involved “the same parties or their privies.” Chicago Title Land Trust Co. v. Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan *975 Sales, 664 F.3d 1075, 1079 (7th Cir. 2011)(citing Hudson v. City of Chicago, 889 N.E.2d 210, 215 (Ill. 2008)); see also Empress Casino Joliet Corp. v. Johnston, 763 F.3d 723, 727-28 (7th Cir. 2014)(stating that under Illinois law the doctrine applies when “(1) there was a final judgment on the merits rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction; (2) there is an identity of cause of action; and (3) there is an identity of parties or their privies”)(internal quotations omitted)(quoting River Park, Inc. v. City of Highland Park, 703 N.E.2d 883, 889 (Ill. 1998)).

         In 2012, Plaintiffs filed a federal civil rights claim (2012 Lawsuit) against the City for alleged violations of Plaintiffs' equal protection rights. Plaintiffs do not dispute that there was a final judgment on the merits in the previous action. In the 2012 Lawsuit, the court granted the City's motion to dismiss on June 12, 2013, finding that Plaintiffs' claims were not filed within the statute of limitations period. The Seventh Circuit upheld the district court's dismissal on February 13, 2014 and on April 22, 2014 Plaintiffs' request for rehearing en banc was denied. The United ...


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