United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
HERNDON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is defendant Illinois Department of Human
Services' motion to dismiss plaintiff's pro
se complaint (Doc. 15), to which plaintiff responded
(Doc. 21). For the reasons explained below, the Court GRANTS
defendant's motion to dismiss.
December 18, 2017, Plaintiff Pamela B. Cooper, pro
se, a former employee of the Illinois Department of Human
Services (“IDHS”), filed a complaint against IDHS
claiming that IDHS violated her civil rights by wrongfully
terminating her, harassing her and breaching her employment
contract (Doc. 1). As pointed out by IDHS, plaintiff
identified her claim as a civil rights employment suit and
stated that jurisdiction was based on listing the U.S.
government as a defendant (Doc. 1-4). However, the U.S.
government was not named as a defendant in this matter. As a
result, IDHS moves to dismiss plaintiff's complaint (Doc.
15) alleging that any claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C
§ 1983 or state law are barred by the Eleventh
Amendment. Additionally, IDHS argues that to the extent
plaintiff alleges employment discrimination pursuant to Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e,
et seq., she fails to state a claim. Plaintiff responded
opposing the motion alleging that IDHS is a “political
subdivision”, and, thus, not entitled to Eleventh
Amendment protections (Doc. 21, pg. 4).
Motion to Dismiss
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), a court must dismiss any action
over which it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. Further, a
complaint that fails to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted should be dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police Chicago
Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). The
Supreme Court explained in Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), that Rule 12(b)(6)
dismissal is warranted if the complaint fails to set forth
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.”
federal pleading standards were retooled by Twombly
and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), notice
pleading remains all that is required in a complaint.
“A plaintiff still must provide only ‘enough
detail to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is
and the grounds upon which it rests and, through his
allegations, show that it is plausible, rather than merely
speculative, that he is entitled to relief.'”
Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1083 (7th Cir.
2008) (citation omitted).
Seventh Circuit offers further guidance on what a complaint
must do to withstand 12(b)(6) dismissal. The Court in
Pugh v. Tribune Co., 521 F.3d 686, 699 (7th Cir.
2008), reiterated the standard: “surviving a Rule
12(b)(6) motion requires more than labels and
conclusions;” the complaint's allegations must
“raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” A plaintiff's claim “must be
plausible on its face, ” that is, “the complaint
must establish a non-negligible probability that the claim is
valid.” Smith v. Medical Benefit Administrators
Group, Inc., 639 F.3d 277, 281 (7th Cir.2011). With this
in mind, the Court turns to plaintiff's complaint
noted above, plaintiff seeks to bring a claim against IDHS
for wrongful termination, harassment and alleged breach of
contract (Doc. 1). Plaintiff improperly alleges that
jurisdiction is based on the U.S. government as a defendant
(in her civil cover sheet) and that the alleged violations
involve state law (Doc. 1). IDHS has moved for dismissal,
arguing that as an agency of the State of Illinois, both
plaintiff's § 1983 claims and her state law claims,
are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. The Court agrees.
Eleventh Amendment “bars federal jurisdiction over
suits brought against a state, not only by citizens of
another state or a foreign state, but also by its own
citizens.” MCI Telecommunications Corp. v. Illinois
Bell Telephone Co., 222 F.3d 323, 336 (7th Cir.2000).
This jurisdictional bar applies “regardless of the
nature of the relief sought.” Pennhurst State
School & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100
(1984). State agencies are subject to the same treatment as
states. Kroll v. Bd. of Trustees of Univ. of
Illinois, 934 F.2d 904, 907 (7th Cir. 1991). The rule
applies unless, (1) the state unequivocally waives its
Eleventh Amendment protection, thereby consenting to suit in
federal court, or (2) Congress unequivocally states its
intent to abrogate Eleventh Amendment immunity. Id.
With respect to § 1983, Congress has not conveyed
unequivocal intent to abrogate states' Eleventh Amendment
immunity. Will v. Michigan Dep't of State
Police, 491 U.S. 58, 109 S.Ct. 2304, 105 L.Ed.2d 45
(1989)(noting that Congress had no intention of abrogating
states' Eleventh Amendment immunity by enacting §
attempt to argue that IDHS is not entitled to Eleventh
Amendment protections based on its status as a
“political subdivision” is clearly misguided. By
virtue of the Eleventh Amendment, the immunity afforded to
the State of Illinois extends to its state agencies. 745 ILCS
5/1. Thus, IDHS is entitled to sovereign immunity, as the
State of Illinois has not waived its Eleventh Amendment
immunity. Id. See also Spain v. Elgin Mental
Health Center, 2011 WL 1485285, at *4 (N.D.Ill.2011)
(Eleventh Amendment grants IDHS sovereign immunity); Hall
v. Carter, 2011 WL 499954, at *2 (S.D.Ill.2011)
(Eleventh Amendment shields DOC, a state agency, from suits
in federal court). Therefore, plaintiff's § 1983
claims and state law claims are barred by the Eleventh
IDHS argues that “to the extent plaintiff alleges
employment discrimination pursuant to Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (as
suggested by plaintiff's civil cover sheet, (Doc. 1-4)),
she has failed to state a claim because she has not alleged
that she was discriminated against because of her membership
in a protected class.” (Doc. 15, pgs. 2-3). In her
response, plaintiff acknowledges that she “did not
allege or include charges ...