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Blazek v. ADT Security, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

December 11, 2019

JOSEPH J. BLAZEK, Plaintiff,



         Defendant ADT Security LLC moves to dismiss Plaintiff Joseph Blazek's Amended Complaint (Dkt. No. 21). For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. No. 23) is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Court previously ruled on a Motion to Dismiss in Blazek v. ADT Security LLC, 2019 WL 2297317 (N.D. Ill. May 30, 2019) (granting in part and denying in part Defendant's first Motion to Dismiss). Blazek served as an ADT Security Technician for about forty-five years. Id. at *1. This case arises from an incident in the ADT Security's employee parking lot, where Blazek tripped in a pothole and injured both his arm and knee. Id. at *1. In his original Complaint, Blazek asserted the following claims: (1) denial of worker's compensation under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act; (2) breach of contract for severance pay under a collective bargaining agreement; (3) a violation of the Illinois Whistleblower Act; (4) age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”); (5) disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”); and (6) a violation of the Illinois Personnel Records Review Act (“IPRRA”). Id. The Court previously dismissed all of Blazek's claims except his claim of age discrimination under the ADEA and his claim under the IPRRA. Id. at *6.

         Blazek subsequently filed an Amended Complaint. Blazek's factual allegations remain largely the same. In his Amended Complaint, Blazek brings claims under the ADEA, the IPRAA, the Illinois Workers Compensation Act, 820 ILCS 305/1, et seq., the Illinois Whistleblower Act, 740 ILCS 174/1, et seq., and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. Defendant moves to dismiss Blazek's Illinois Workers Compensation Act, Illinois Whistleblower Act, and Americans with Disabilities Act claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).


         A 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss challenges the sufficiency of the complaint. Christensen v. Cty. of Boone, 483 F.3d 454, 457 (7th Cir. 2007). To overcome a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Adams v. City of Indianapolis, 742 F.3d 720, 728 (7th Cir. 2014) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim has facial plausibility “when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). When considering a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court must “accept[] as true all well-pleaded facts alleged, and draw[] all possible inferences in [the plaintiff's] favor.” Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008).


         A. Illinois Workers Compensation Act

         Blazek had a pending claim for Temporary Total Disability (“TTD”) with the IWCC when the Court issued its previous decision. Blazek, 2019 WL 2297317, at *1. The Illinois Workers Compensation Act provides an administrative remedy for employee injuries “arising out of and in the course of the[ir] employment.” 820 ILCS 305/11. The statute abrogates liability for all common law negligence claims through its two exclusivity provisions. Baylay v. Etihad Airways P.J.S.C., 222 F.Supp.3d 698, 702 (N.D. Ill. 2016) (citation omitted). These exclusivity provisions prevent employees from receiving double compensation for workplace injuries. See Id. at 702 (collecting cases). Subject to these exclusivity provisions, the Court dismissed Blazek's workers compensation claim because the Court could not hear the claim while it was pending before the IWCC. Blazek, 2019 WL 2297317, at *2. In his Amended Complaint, Blazek states that the IWCC has since denied his TTD claim. Blazek asserts he has exhausted all administrative remedies and now seeks judicial review of the IWCC's denial of TTD benefits.

         In workers' compensation proceedings, courts exercise “special statutory jurisdiction” and strict compliance with the statute is required to vest the court with subject-matter jurisdiction. Conway v. Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, 2019 IL App (4th) 180285WC, ¶ 12. The relevant statute dictates detailed procedure that must be followed in order for a court to have jurisdiction to review a workers' compensation proceeding. These procedures include filing suit within 20 days of receipt of notice of the IWCC's decision, providing the clerk of the reviewing court a written request for a summons and filing “with the Commission notice of intent to file for review.” 820 ILCS 305/19(f)(1).

         Blazek does not claim to have done any of these things in his Amended Complaint. Because these procedures are required for jurisdiction to vest, failure to follow them is fatal to the claim. Accordingly, Blazek's claim under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act is dismissed without prejudice. However, the Court recognizes that Blazek may have taken the appropriate steps even if he failed to allege as much in his Amended Complaint. The Court will grant Blazek one final opportunity to amend his Complaint to state an IWCA claim; in his amended pleadings, Blazek must explain how he followed the steps necessary to vest this Court with jurisdiction over his appeal. Blazek may file an Amended Complaint within thirty (30) days.

         B. Illinois Whistleblower Act

         Blazek brings a claim under the Illinois Whistleblower Act (“IWA”), 740 ILCS 174/1, et seq. The IWA protects employees who disclose information about suspected wrongdoing to a government agency. Larsen v. Proven Hops., 27 N.E. 3d 1033, 1043 (Ill.App.Ct. 2015). To bring an IWA claim, a plaintiff must allege that (1) he reported information to a government agency; (2) about activity he reasonably believed to be unlawful; and (3) suffered an adverse action by his employer because of that disclosure. See Sweeney v. City of Decatur, 79 N.E. 3d 184, 188 (Ill.App.Ct. 2017). The Court previously dismissed Blazek's IWA claim because Blazek's disclosure to a government agency “occurred after the alleged adverse employment action.” Blazek, 2019 WL 2297317, at *3. Plaintiff previously mentioned “two disclosures: one to the Illinois Department on ...

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