United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
ROBERT E. ELDRIDGE, JR., Plaintiff,
THE CHALLENGING LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL, individually and in his/her official capacity, and ILLINOIS CONCEAL CARRY LICENSING REVIEW BOARD, and its members, individually and in their official capacity, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. LEE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Robert Eldridge (“Eldridge”), proceeding pro
se, has filed claims alleging that the Illinois
Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board (“the
Board”) and its individual members (together,
“the Board Defendants”), as well as an unnamed
law enforcement official, conspired to significantly delay
making a decision required for Eldridge to obtain a
concealed-carry gun license in Illinois. Eldridge also claims
that the Board Defendants failed to provide him notice of the
identity of an objecting law enforcement entity and the basis
for the objection. According to Eldridge, this alleged
conduct violates his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights,
as well as criminal civil-rights statutes 18 U.S.C.
§§ 241 and 242, and the civil RICO statute, 18
U.S.C. § 1964(c).
complaint, Eldridge seeks monetary damages and injunctive
relief in the form of a Board decision, but since that time,
Eldridge has received a concealed-carry license and agrees
that his claim for injunctive relief has become moot. The
Board Defendants now move to dismiss Eldridge's remaining
claims for monetary damages. For the reasons given below, the
Board Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in
October 1, 2015, Eldridge filed an application with the
Illinois State Police (“ISP”) for a
concealed-carry gun license. Compl. at 11, ECF No. 1. Under
the Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Act, 430 Ill. Comp.
Stat. 66/1, et seq., the ISP “shall”
issue such a license only if, inter alia, the
Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board determines that the
applicant does not pose a danger to the applicant, others, or
to public safety. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 66/10(a). The ISP is
generally required to issue a decision within ninety days of
receiving a completed application, but if “any law
enforcement agency” objects to the applicant, the
ninety-day period is tolled “during the period of
review and until the Board issues its decision.” 430
Ill. Comp. Stat. 66/15(c).
November 1, 2015-one month after he submitted his
application- Eldridge was notified that a law enforcement
agency had filed an objection to his application. Compl. at
11. Eldridge made “numerous” efforts to contact
the Board but, at the time he filed his complaint, the Board
had gone twenty months without acting on his application or
telling him who had objected or why. Id. at 1-2, 5,
11- 12. He believes that the objection and resulting delay
were “influenced” by an unidentified person
involved with a 2001 criminal proceeding, in which Eldridge
was arrested and convicted of a class A misdemeanor for
battery. See id. at 11-12; Pl.'s Resp. at 2-3,
ECF No. 21; see generally Pl.'s Resp., Ex. B,
People of the State of Ill. v. Eldridge, No. 1 CR2
20721, Appeal No. 1-04-1550 (Ill.App.Ct. 2005) (denying
appeal of convictions for misdemeanor battery and felony
unlawful use of a weapon); id., Ex. C, Order of July
24, 2014, at 1 (vacating felony conviction). According to
Eldrigde, as a result of Defendants' conduct, he has
suffered “physical injury, ” including
“immense stress” and “mental
anguish.” Id. at 8.
on the foregoing events, Eldridge brings claims for
violations of: (1) criminal civil-rights statutes, 18 U.S.C.
§§ 241 and 242 (Count I); (2) the civil RICO
statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1964(c) (Count II); and (3) his
Fourteenth Amendment due process rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 (Count IV). Eldridge also alleges that
Defendants' conduct caused him physical and emotional
injury (Count III).
survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the
complaint must “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The factual
allegations in the complaint must at least “raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell
Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 555. The Court must accept as
true all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint and draw
all possible inferences in the plaintiff's favor. See
Tamayo, 526 F.3d at 1081. Mere legal conclusions,
however, “are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Courts also
construe pro se complaints liberally. See Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam).
Board Defendants seek dismissal of Eldridge's
monetary-damages claims against them in their official
capacities on the basis that the Board-and by extension its
individual members-are immune to suit under the Eleventh
Amendment doctrine of sovereign immunity. They also contend
that they are entitled to absolute quasi-judicial immunity
for the claims brought against them in their individual
capacities. In the alternative, they contend that they are
entitled to qualified immunity as to Eldridge's
individual-capacity due process claims and that, for the
remaining individual-capacity claims, Eldridge lacks standing
or otherwise fails to state claim. Eldridge, who is
proceeding pro se, disagrees that his claims should
Claims Against Board Defendants in Their Official
the Eleventh Amendment's sovereign-immunity doctrine, a
plaintiff may not bring suit in federal court against a state
or its agencies unless the state consents to suit in federal
court or Congress has abrogated the state's immunity.
See Pennhurst v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984);
Kroll v. Bd. of Trs. of the Univ. of Ill.,
934 F.2d 904, 907 (7th Cir. 1991). Illinois has not consented
to suits against the Illinois State Police, nor has Congress
abrogated Illinois's immunity in this regard. See
Carr v. Ill. State Police, No. 17 C 413, 2017 WL
5989726, at *3 (N.D. Ill.Dec. 4, 2017) (“The Eleventh
Amendment applies to the Illinois State Police as an agency
of the State of Illinois.”) (citing Tucker v.
Williams, 682 F.3d 654, 659 (7th Cir. 2012); Moore
v. Ill. State Police, 2001 WL 1636920, at *2 (N.D.
Ill.Dec. 20, 2001) (collecting cases confirming this
proposition)); see also, e.g., Johnson v. Winters,
No. 10 C 5480, 2013 WL 4029114, at *17-18 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 8,
2013) (observing that Illinois has waived sovereign immunity
only in the Court of Claims); Cruz v. Cross, No. 08
CV 4873, 2010 WL 3655992, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 10, 2010)
suits for monetary damages against employees of state
agencies, acting in their official capacities, are treated as
suits against the state and likewise are barred by the
Eleventh Amendment. See Garcia v. City of Chi., 24
F.3d 966, 969 (7th Cir. 1994). “To determine if a
particular entity is a state agency, i.e., an arm of
the state, courts look at: (1) the extent of the entity's
financial autonomy from the state; and (2) the general legal
status of the entity. Of the two, the entity's financial
autonomy is the most important factor. In evaluating that
factor, [courts] consider the extent of state funding, the
state's oversight and control of the entity's fiscal
affairs, the entity's ability to raise funds
independently, whether the state taxes the entity, and
whether a judgment against the entity would result in the
state increasing its appropriations to the entity.”
Tucker, 682 F.3d at 659 (internal citations and
initial matter, the Court concludes that the Board is an arm
of the State of Illinois. First, the Board's authorizing
statute states that it is “created within the
Department of State Police, ” 430 Ill. Comp. Stat.
66/20(a), which is itself an arm of the State of Illinois and
immune to suit, see, e.g., Carr, 2017 WL 5989726, at
*3. Second, the Board appears to have little financial
independence from the State, as the only funding mechanism
described in its authorizing statute is State appropriations.
430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 66/20(b). Therefore, both factors
support the Court's conclusion that the Board is an arm
of the State of Illinois.
that no sovereign-immunity exception applies, the Court
concludes that the Board and its members, to the extent they
are sued in their official capacities, are immune from
Eldridge's suit in federal court. These claims are
Claims Against Board Defendants in Their ...