United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
Svetoslav Dorobanov, Paul Jovenich, and Randy Binning, Plaintiffs,
Caesars Entertainment Corporation, Caesars Entertainment Operating Company, Inc., Harrah's Illinois Corporation d/b/a Harrah's Joliet Casino Hotel, WMS Gaming, Inc., David Sandack, Emmanuel Flores, and Various Unknown Current and Former Employees of the Illinois Gaming Board, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Honorable Edmond E. Chang United States District Judge
Svetoslav Dorobanov, Paul Jovenich, and Randy Binning filed
this lawsuit against casino-gaming corporations Caesars
Entertainment Corporation, Caesars Entertainment Operating
Company, Inc., Harrah's Illinois Corporation d/b/a
Harrah's Joliet Casino, WMS Gaming, Inc.; two Illinois
State Police Officers, David Sandack and Emmanuel Flores; and
a group of unknown current and former employees of the
Illinois Gaming Board. Plaintiffs allege civil rights violations
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and violations of Illinois common
Defendants jointly moved to dismiss [R. 30, 32,
the claims on various grounds, including that Plaintiffs
missed filing before the statute of limitations expired on
the § 1983 claim. For the following reasons,
Defendants' joint motion to dismiss is granted in part,
specifically against the § 1983 claim based on the
limitations defense. With the federal law claim out of the
picture, the Court relinquishes supplemental jurisdiction
over the state law claim.
deciding motions to dismiss, the Court accepts as true
Plaintiffs' factual allegations and draws all reasonable
inferences in Plaintiffs' favor. McGowan v.
Hulick, 612 F.3d 636, 638 (7th Cir. 2010). Plaintiffs
are professional gamblers from Las Vegas, Nevada. R. 1,
Compl. ¶¶ 4, 13. In April 2013, Binning learned
from other gamblers that keno machines at various
Harrah's casinos were making higher-than-normal payouts.
Id. ¶¶ 14, 15. He traveled to Harrah's
Casino in Joliet, Illinois, where he won a large sum of money
playing the keno machines. Id. ¶ 14. Binning
learned about other Harrah's properties in Mississippi
that offered similar types of games, and left Joliet to play
keno machines at three Harrah's casinos in
Mississippi. Id. ¶ 16.
shared the information about the higher-than-usual payouts
from the Joliet keno machines with his friend Dorobanov.
Compl. ¶ 18. Dorobanov in turn shared the information
with his friend Jovenich. Id. Not surprisingly,
Dorobanov and Jovenich travelled to the Harrah's in
Joliet and played the keno machines until the casino turned
off the machines. Id. Dorobanov and Jovenich both
won a large amount of money playing the keno machines.
better-than-normal payouts that Plaintiffs received resulted
from the way the keno machines were programmed by the
manufacturer of the machines, WMS Gaming. Compl. ¶ 15.
Plaintiffs did not receive inside information from WMS or do
anything illegal to receive the higher payouts from the keno
machines. Id. ¶¶ 15, 28. A July 2013 WMS
report sent to the Mississippi Gaming Commission confirmed
that there was an inadvertent coding error in the keno
machines and there was no evidence any WMS software engineer
was in contact with any casino patron (like Plaintiffs) who
had won a significant amount of money on the keno machines.
Id. ¶¶ 20, 23.
the WMS report's conclusion that no casino patrons
received inside information, the Illinois Gaming Board
investigated Plaintiffs for their substantial winnings from
the Joliet keno machines. Compl. ¶¶ 25, 35. The
exculpatory WMS report does not seem to have been considered
in the Illinois Gaming Board investigation into Plaintiffs.
Id. ¶ 25. Plaintiffs assert that this is
probably because WMS and Caesars misled Investigator Sandack
about the report. Id. Plaintiffs also allege Sandack
and Flores did not conduct the investigation of Plaintiffs
were indicted in Will County, Illinois on March 6, 2014.
Compl. ¶ 1. Arrest warrants were issued the same day.
Id. Plaintiffs were charged with between 14 to 22
felonies, including violations of various computer
tampering and computer theft statutes, rather than
less-serious violations of the Illinois Riverboat Gambling
Act, 230 ILCS 10/1 et seq. Id. ¶¶ 1, 22.
The complaint alleges that Plaintiffs were indicted and
prosecuted because of all Defendants' actions,
specifically because Defendants never told the prosecutor,
judge, or grand jury the truth: that Plaintiffs did nothing
illegal while playing the keno machines in Harrah's
casino. Compl. ¶ 28. The prosecution ended when the Will
County judge granted Plaintiffs' motion for a directed
verdict at the close of the State's case on February 7,
2015 and March 5, 2015. Id. ¶ 1.
Standard of Review
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a complaint
generally need only include “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). This short and plain
statement must “give the defendant fair notice of what
the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)
(cleaned up). The Seventh Circuit has explained that this
rule “reflects a liberal notice pleading regime, which
is intended to ‘focus litigation on the merits of a
claim' rather than on technicalities that might keep
plaintiffs out of court.” Brooks v. Ross, 578
F.3d 574, 580 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting Swierkiewicz v.
Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002)).
motion under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the
complaint to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted.” Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police of
Chi. Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009).
“[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). These allegations
“must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
The allegations that are entitled to the assumption of truth
are those that are factual, rather than mere legal
conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79.
Rules 8(d) and 10(b)
discussing the fatal problem with the complaint (its
untimeliness), it is worth noting that one of the grounds
raised by the defense would not have warranted a dismissal.
According to the defense, the complaint violates Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure 8(d) and 10(b). Rule 8(d) requires
each allegation in the complaint to be “simple,
concise, and direct.” Rule 10(b) mandates that a party
state its claims or defenses in numbered paragraphs,
“each limited as far as practicable to a single set of
circumstances.” The Seventh Circuit has noted that the
“primary purpose of these rules is to give defendants
fair notice of the claims against them and the grounds
supporting the claims.” Stanard v. Nygren, 658
F.3d 792, 797 (7th Cir. 2011). “Dismissal of a
complaint on the ground that it is unintelligible is
unexceptionable” because it “fails to give the
defendant the notice to which he is entitled.”
Davis v. Ruby Foods, Inc., 269 F.3d 818, 820 (7th
Cir. 2001) (cleaned up). Dismissal of a complaint, however,
is inappropriate “merely because it contains
repetitious and irrelevant matter, a disposable husk around a
core of proper pleading.” Id.
argue that it would be “a practical and logistical
nightmare for each defendant” to answer the complaint
as written because it is not clear which allegations are
leveled against which Defendants. R. 31, Defs.' Br. Supp.
Mot. Dismiss at 5-6. It is true that the complaint is
verbose, contains unnecessary rhetorical questions (it would
be the rare situation indeed for a rhetorical question to be
properly posed in a complaint), and could more clearly state
the facts and legal claims. For sure, the Court does not
condone this type of pleading. Having said that, Defendants
are on notice of the legal claims Plaintiffs brought against
them and are able to sufficiently defend against them, which
is the bottom line. Despite their protests, Defendants were
able to distill the essence of Plaintiffs' claims. R. 49,
Defs.' Reply Supp. Mot. Dismiss at 4. (“Each
[Plaintiff] supposedly has two separate ...