128 F.3d 1051 (7th Cir. 1997), 96-2672, Ladien v. Astrachan

Docket Nº:96-2672.
Citation:128 F.3d 1051
Party Name:Kimball H. LADIEN, M.D., Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Boris ASTRACHAN, Gloria Jackson Bacon, and James Barter, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:October 22, 1997
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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128 F.3d 1051 (7th Cir. 1997)

Kimball H. LADIEN, M.D., Plaintiff-Appellant,


Boris ASTRACHAN, Gloria Jackson Bacon, and James Barter, et

al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 96-2672.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

October 22, 1997

Argued April 8, 1997.

Paul R. Shuldiner, Karen F. Botterud (argued), Chicago, IL, for Kimball H. Ladien.

Carla J. Rozycki (argued), D. Scott Watson, Keck, Mahin & Cate, Chicago, IL, for Boris Astrachan, Gloria Jackson Bacon and James Barter.

Karen J. Dimond, Office of the Attorney General, Civil Appeals Division, Chicago, IL, for Kenneth Boyle and Lee Combrinck-Graham.

Before EASTERBROOK, KANNE and DIANE P. WOOD, Circuit Judges.

KANNE, Circuit Judge.

For one year, Dr. Kimball Ladien was employed as a child psychiatrist at the Institute for Juvenile Research. 1 While there, Dr. Ladien voiced protest against what he believed to be gross medical misconduct by his employer and by the Illinois State Psychiatric Institute.

Because the Institute for Juvenile Research did not renew his contract for a second year, Dr. Ladien filed suit on June 22, 1992, alleging that the Institute retaliated

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against him for expressing his views. Six months later, he voluntarily dismissed his complaint. Ten months later, on October 27, 1993, he filed this lawsuit which is the subject of this appeal.

Dr. Ladien claims that the defendants 2 violated his free speech and due process rights under the Constitution in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985, in that he was subjected to intentional infliction of emotional distress in violation of Illinois law.

The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint asserting immunity and the statute of limitations. On July 26, 1994, the district court granted in part and denied in part the defendants' motions. The court found timely the claims against the defendants in their individual capacity and found now time barred the claims against the defendants in their official capacity. The district court further found that the Eleventh Amendment cloaked the institutional defendants with governmental immunity and therefore it dismissed all claims against the institutional defendants.

Consequently, the remaining defendants in this action are nineteen persons sued in their individual capacity: eighteen are members of the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Governor Jim Edgar, an ex officio member of the Board of Trustees.

Throughout the pleading and discovery stages of this case, defendants have filed various motions to compel Dr. Ladien to conform to judicial orders and discovery requests. The district court reviewed each of defendants' motions and ultimately sanctioned Dr. Ladien for his repeated misconduct by dismissing his case with prejudice. We now review in some detail the type of conduct that led to the dismissal of Dr. Ladien's case.


The September 21, 1994 Status Hearing

At this hearing, the court admonished Dr. Ladien for ex parte correspondence with the court and ordered him to cease such attempts:

The Court: Mr. Ladien, I just want to say you sent several things to me in the mail and you shouldn't do that.

Dr. Ladien: I found out afterwards that I shouldn't. I apologize.

The Court: It's no big deal, but it could be construed as ... trying to influence the Court one way or another.

Rec. Tr. Vol. 1 at 2. The court further ordered Dr. Ladien not to directly contact the individual defendants, and directed him to deal only with defendants' counsel:

The Court: Here is the way it is, Doctor: You sued them. You know, you have in a civilized fashion attacked them. They are entitled to defend themselves.... [M]y job is to follow the rules. The rules say that when you attack a person, which you have done--you have attacked a number of people here--then you have to deal with their lawyer. If they were pro se, great, you could deal with them, but they are not. They hired a lawyer. You got to deal with their lawyer. And that is it. And it is a violation--you will get yourself sanctioned if you deal directly with the clients.

Rec. Tr. Vol. 1 at 14-15.

Although the court gave clear instructions against direct contact with defendants, on October 14, 1994, Dr. Ladien sent a letter to Michelle Thompson. Thompson is the Special Assistant to the President of the University of Illinois, Stanley Ikenberry. Ikenberry is a named defendant in this matter. The stated purpose of Dr. Ladien's letter was to set a meeting with the defendants so that the parties could discuss this case. Dr. Ladien also mailed a copy of this letter directly to the court. Rec. Pl. Vol. 2, Doc. No. 50 Exh. 4.

The January 19, 1995, Hearing on Motion for Sanctions

On October 24, 1994, in response to Dr. Ladien's October 14 letter to Thompson and

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the court, the defendants filed a motion for sanctions outlining Dr. Ladien's disregard of the order that he not communicate directly with the defendants or the court. At the hearing on the motion for sanctions, the court noted that Dr. Ladien's October 14 letter to Thompson violated its order; nevertheless, the court refused to impose sanctions against Dr. Ladien. The court reasoned that Dr. Ladien's letter was not burdensome to defendants and therefore no real harm had been done.

The March 16, 1995 Hearing on Motion to Compel or to Dismiss for Failure to Comply with Discovery

The defendants filed a motion to compel or, alternatively to dismiss for failure to comply with discovery. At the hearing on this motion, the court was informed that on November 16, 1994, defendants served Dr. Ladien with their First Set of Interrogatories and their First Request for the Production of Documents. According to defendants, Dr. Ladien's response to these discovery requests was "wholly inadequate." After...

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