United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Randle brought this pro se suit against First
American Title Insurance Company (“FATIC”), Elsa
Fuchs, Mary Beth Wheeler, Judge Ronald Bartkowicz, Barbara
Beilfuss, and Cook County, alleging violations of 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1983 and 1985 and Illinois law. Doc. 1. The
court dismissed the claims against Cook County, Doc. 5, and
Beilfuss filed a motion to dismiss the claims against her,
Doc. 17, which the court granted, Doc. 37. Randle filed an
amended complaint, Doc. 56, which FATIC, Wheeler, Judge
Bartkowicz, and Beilfuss have moved to dismiss, Docs. 59, 61,
66. (Fuchs was recently served, Doc. 86, and has not yet
filed a responsive pleading, but her co-defendants'
arguments apply with equal force to her.) The motions to
dismiss are granted as to Randle's federal claims, and
the court exercises its discretion under 28 U.S.C. §
1367(c)(3) to relinquish jurisdiction over his state law
claims. That said, the court gives Randle one final
opportunity to amend his claims.
resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court assumes the truth
of the operative complaint's well-pleaded factual
allegations, though not its legal conclusions. See Zahn
v. N. Am. Power & Gas, LLC, 815 F.3d 1082, 1087 (7th
Cir. 2016). The court must also consider “documents
attached to the complaint, documents that are critical to the
complaint and referred to in it, and information that is
subject to proper judicial notice, ” along with
additional facts set forth in Randle's brief opposing
dismissal, so long as those additional facts “are
consistent with the pleadings.” Phillips v.
Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 714 F.3d 1017, 1020 (7th
Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted). The facts are
set forth as favorably to Randle as those materials allow.
See Pierce v. Zoetis, 818 F.3d 274, 277 (7th Cir.
2016). In setting forth those facts, the court does not vouch
for their accuracy. See Jay E. Hayden Found. v. First
Neighbor Bank, N.A., 610 F.3d 382, 384 (7th Cir. 2010).
alleges that certain of the defendants filed claims in state
court charging that he and others conspired to steal
Beilfuss's property. Doc. 56 at ¶ 14. Randle further
alleges that Wheeler (FATIC's attorney) made false
statements in state court pleadings and testimony, and that
Wheeler and Fuchs conspired to give misleading information to
Judge Bartkowicz. Id. at ¶¶ 17, 25. Randle
adds that Wheeler, Fuchs, Beilfuss, and Judge Bartkowicz
conspired to deny him his civil rights throughout the state
court proceedings. Id. at ¶ 33. They allegedly
did so during at least one “private meeting, ”
although Randle does not specify who was in the meeting or
what was said. Id. at ¶ 38.
alleged conspiracy did not bear fruit; as Randle acknowledged
at the hearing on this motion, he prevailed in state
court. When asked how, given his victory, the conspiracy
injured him, Randle answered: “Well, first of all,
every time I went to court over many years, I suffered
tremendously, had a heart attack. And I believe it was all
generated by this phony action. So I suffered
I-II of the operative complaint allege that Judge Bartkowicz,
FATIC, Fuchs, and Wheeler violated § 1983. Id.
at ¶¶ 20-30. Counts III-VI allege that FATIC,
Fuchs, Wheeler, Beilfuss, and Judge Bartkowicz conspired to
deprive Randle of his civil rights in violation of
§§ 1983 and 1985. Id. at ¶¶
31-55. Counts VII-IX raise Illinois state law claims against
the private defendants, i.e., all defendants other
than Judge Bartkowicz. Id. at ¶¶ 56-76.
Claims against Judge Bartkowicz
Bartkowicz contends that judicial immunity protects him from
Randle's federal claims. Doc. 62 at 7. “Like other
forms of official immunity, judicial immunity is an immunity
from suit, not just from ultimate assessment of damages.
Accordingly, judicial immunity is not overcome by allegations
of bad faith or malice … .” Mireles v.
Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11 (1991) (citation omitted). Judicial
immunity does not apply where the alleged misconduct consists
of actions that are “nonjudicial, …
i.e., actions not taken in the judge's judicial
capacity.” Ibid.; see also Johnson v.
Hansher, 607 F. App'x 581, 583 (7th Cir. 2015). Nor
is there judicial immunity “for actions, though
judicial in nature, taken in the complete absence of all
jurisdiction.” Mireles, 502 U.S. at 12;
see also Killinger v. Johnson, 389 F.3d 765, 770
(7th Cir. 2004).
claims against Bartkowicz complain of actions (discussing the
state court case, admitting or excluding evidence, and ruling
on motions) that are judicial in nature. Randle does not
suggest that the judge lacked jurisdiction, and any such
allegation would be frivolous. Judge Bartkowicz is thus
protected from suit by judicial immunity, and the claims
against him are dismissed.
Non-Conspiracy Section 1983 Claims Against the Private
moving to dismiss the non-conspiracy § 1983 claims
against them, FATIC and Wheeler-who died earlier this year,
Doc. 77-argue that Randle fails to allege facts that, if
true, would show them to be state actors or otherwise acting
under the color of law. They are correct, and the same holds
claim under § 1983 is tenable only if the defendants
acted under color of state law- in other words, if they are
state actors.” Gayman v. Principal Financial
Servs., Inc., 311 F.3d 851, 852 (7th Cir. 2002). FATIC
(a private title insurance company), Wheeler (one of its
attorneys), and Fuchs (senior claims counsel to FATIC) are
not agents of the State. Randle alleges in a conclusory
manner that those defendants acted “under color of
state law, ” Doc. 56 at ¶ 23, but no facts alleged
in the complaint or his brief support that conclusion. The
only allegation connecting them to the State is the charge
that they met with Judge Bartkowicz in an attempt to direct
the state court suit in their favor. That does not make the
private defendants state actors or indicate that they were
acting “under color of law, ” a term defined as
“exercis[ing] power possessed by virtue of state law
and made possible only because the wrongdoer is clothed with
the authority of state law.” West v. Atkins,