United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. LEE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Mark Thompson was a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools
(CPS), who was terminated on [ ]. Since that time, he has
brought no less than seven separate lawsuits in state and
federal court related to his various suspensions, transfers,
and ultimate dismissal. Defendants have moved to dismiss the
Second Amended Complaint based, in large part, on res
judicata and absolute immunity grounds. The Court grants
the motions  and dismisses the case.
Factual & Procedural Background
Thompson is an African-American teacher who worked for the
CPS from 2001 to 2003, and from 2005 to 2013. CPS is overseen
by the Defendant Board of Education of the City of Chicago
(Board). 2d Am. Compl. ¶ 6, ECF No. 99. At all times
relevant to the complaint, Defendant James Sullivan was the
Board's Inspector General, id. ¶ 18,
Defendant Linda Brown was the Board's Director of
Investigations, id. ¶ 9, and Defendant Thomas
Krieger was the Board's Director of Office of Employee
Relations, id. ¶ 16. Defendant Forrest Claypool
was until recently CPS's CEO, id. ¶ 12, and
during the relevant time period, Defendant Harold Ardell was
CPS's law department investigator, Defendant Alicia
Winckler was CPS's Chief Talent Officer, and Defendant
Reginald Evans worked for CPS as the principal of Harlan High
School. Id. ¶ 13.
Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) enforces state
education regulations. Id. ¶ 8. Defendant Dan
Nielsen was employed by ISBE as the hearing officer that
presided over Thompson's dismissal hearing. Id.
addition to teaching for the CPS, Plaintiff Thompson provided
private athletic training to Defendant Jane Doe. Id.
¶ 15. Doe and her mother, who is also a defendant, lived
outside of Cook County, and Jane did not attend a CPS school.
Id. ¶¶ 14-15. Jane Doe received mental
health treatment from Defendant Dr. Claudia P. Welke, a
psychiatrist, through Defendant Northshore University Health
System. Id. ¶¶ 9, 19.
Thompson's Lawsuit that Forms the Basis for His Title VII
December 20, 2010, Thompson filed a lawsuit in the Circuit
Court of Cook County, 2010 L 014372. Id. ¶ 33.
That lawsuit, which was eventually removed to federal court
and heard by Judge Ronald A. Guzmán, case no. 11 C
1712, was brought against the Board, Keith Brookshire,
Deborah Edwards-Clay, and Reginald Evans, claiming gender and
race discrimination and retaliation under Title VII and 42
U.S.C. § 1981, a violation of the Illinois Whistleblower
Act, 740 Ill. Comp. Stat. 174 et seq., breach of
contract, tortious interference with contract, negligent
supervision, libel per se, intentional infliction of
emotional distress, and civil conspiracy. Case No. 11 C 1712,
5th Am. Compl., ECF No. 178. The adverse employment actions
of which Thompson complained were his suspension and
termination with regard to all coaching positions and
physical education teaching positions and his transfer to a
history teacher position, all of which occurred in 2010 while
he worked at Harlan High School. Id. Thompson had
not yet been fired when the operative complaint was filed.
Judge Guzmán entered summary judgment in favor of the
defendants on most of the claims, but he permitted Thompson
to proceed on a claim that he had been suspended in
retaliation for previously filing EEOC complaints. See
Thompson v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chi, No. 11 C 1712,
2014 WL 1322958, at *9 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 2, 2014). Thompson and
the defendants settled the case in January 2015.
The End of Thompson's Tenure with CPS
provided private athletic training to Jane Doe. 2d Am. Compl.
¶ 15. Doe told local police that Thompson had stalked
her, but the Board declined to investigate the claim in May
2010. Id. ¶ 32. Doe also told her psychiatrist,
Dr. Welke, in April 2011, that Thompson had raped her when
she was 17. Id. ¶ 19. Dr. Welke, in turn,
reported Doe's account to Illinois Department of Children
and Family Services (DCFS). Id. ¶ 35.
claims that the Board solicited Doe through her mother to
make false rape claims against him in retaliation for his
suing the Board and its employees in December 2010.
Id. ¶ 34. Thompson alleges that Doe, her
mother, and the Board conspired to have his employment
terminated. Id. ¶ 39.
of the investigation into Doe's complaint, in August
2011, unbeknownst to Thompson, the Board subpoenaed and
obtained Thompson's confidential AOL email records from
January 2009 to December 2010. Id. ¶ 41.
Thompson also alleges that the Board obstructed justice and
prevented him from learning about Doe's allegations
against him until January 24, 2012. Id. ¶ 36.
According to Thompson, the Board then interviewed Thompson
and obtained his training schedule so that Doe and her mother
could use it to file a false police report in February 2012.
Id. ¶ 45.
21, 2012, Defendant Evans gave Thompson an
“unsatisfactory” evaluation. Id. ¶
51. The Board removed him from the classroom in June 2012.
Id. ¶ 52. Thompson alleges the
“unsatisfactory” evaluation was concocted by the
Board as an alternative reason to terminate his employment in
order to conceal the Board's retaliatory motive.
Id. ¶ 53. Thompson alleges that the Board had
allowed him to remain in the classroom teaching students
during the investigation into Doe's accusations because
the Board knew the accusations were false. Id.
on the investigation into Doe's claims, the Board
suspended Thompson without pay on September 13, 2012, pending
the ISBE dismissal hearing. Id. ¶ 52. The Board
refused to turn over any related investigatory records to
Thompson. Id. ¶ 58. In response to court
orders, the Board turned over investigatory files on February
25, 2013, but, according to Thompson, the files it provided
were incomplete, fabricated, and altered. Id. ¶
60. Thompson asserts that the Board relied on these files to
terminate his employment on August 16, 2013, and during the
related hearing on December 9, 2013. Id.
¶¶ 68-70; see Board's Mem. Supp., Ex
F, Opinion ¶ 11.
to filing the instant lawsuit, Thompson also had sued the
Board, its employees, Jane Doe, Jane Doe's mother, and
others in the Circuit Court of Lake County (“case no.
13 L 879”).Board's Mem. Supp., Ex. B, 13 L 879
Compl. That case, filed in November 2013, asserted twelve
state-law tort and statutory claims related to the
sexual-assault investigation, including claims that the Board
and CPS employees subjected him to negligent infliction of
emotional distress, and that the Board, Doe, and her mother
conspired (1) to conceal Doe's allegations from him; (2)
to fabricate, alter, and destroy evidence; (3) to illegally
obtain his confidential communications; and (4) to terminate
Thompson's employment. The circuit court denied
Thompson's motion to add a Title VII claim, in part,
because his inexcusable delay in adding the claim prejudiced
the defendants. See Pl.'s Mem. Supp., Ex. F,
8/26/14 Order in case no. 13 L 879. The court granted the
defendants' motion to dismiss on August 2014, see
Board's Mem. Supp., Ex. C, Opinion, and Thompson
appealed. The appellate court affirmed the judgment in all
respects and, in particular, affirmed the denial of the
motion to add the Title VII claim as untimely and
inexcusable. See Id. Thompson petitioned for leave
to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, which was denied,
see id., Ex. D, PLA denial, Thompson v. Bd. of
Educ. Twp. High Sch. Dist. 113, No. 120789, 60 N.E.3d
883 (Ill. 2016).
thereafter, on December 2, 2013, Thompson filed a three-count
declaratory judgment action (“case no 13 CH
26625”) in the Circuit Court of Cook County against
Jane Doe, Northshore University Healthsystem (NUHS) (the
custodian of Jane Doe's mental health records), Dr.
Claudia P. Welke (Doe's psychiatrist), and Stephanie
Locascio (Doe's therapist). Welke & NUHS's Mem.
Supp. Ex. A, 13 CH 26625 Compl. Thompson alleged that Dr.
Welke, as an employee of NUHS, reported Jane Doe's false
claim of rape to DCFS, which led to an investigation and his
termination. Id. ¶ 56. He alleged that CPS and
Board employees concealed Doe's allegations from him.
Id. ¶¶ 57-60. Thompson sought a
declaration that any privacy in Doe's records had been
waived as well as an injunction to compel the defendants to
turn over the records. Id. ¶¶ 100(e),
107(e), 115(e). A motion to dismiss was filed, and the court
granted the motion. See id., Ex. 2, Opinion. The
appellate court affirmed the judgment, Board's Mem.
Supp., Ex. G, Opinion ¶ 67, and the Illinois Supreme
Court denied his petition for leave to appeal, see
Thompson v. N.J., No. 120993, 60 N.E.3d 883 (Ill. 2016).
Thompson sued the Board and Barbara Byrd-Bennett, then-CEO of
CPS, in the Circuit Court of Cook County on September 29,
2014 (“case no. 14 CH 15697”). Id., Ex.
E, 14 CH 15697 Compl. He requested a declaration that the
ISBE lacked jurisdiction with regard to his dismissal hearing
and sought to enjoin the hearing. See Id. ¶ 16.
The circuit court dismissed the complaint for failure to
exhaust administrative remedies and for failure to state a
claim. See id., Ex F, Opinion ¶ 19. The
appellate court affirmed, holding that the dismissal hearing
was within the jurisdiction of the ISBE and that Thompson had
failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. Id.
Thompson's petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois
Supreme Court was denied. See Thompson v. Bd. of Educ. of
City of Chi., No. 121051, 60 N.E.3d 883 (Ill. 2016).