Easter House v. Felder, No. 86-2164

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore BAUER, Chief Judge, and CUMMINGS, WOOD, Jr., CUDAHY, POSNER, COFFEY, FLAUM, EASTERBROOK, RIPPLE, MANION and KANNE; KANNE; EASTERBROOK; CUDAHY, Circuit Judge, with whom CUMMINGS and POSNER
Citation910 F.2d 1387
PartiesEASTER HOUSE, an Illinois not-for-profit corporation, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Thomas FELDER, Florence McGuire and Joan Satoloe, Defendants-Appellants.
Docket NumberNo. 86-2164
Decision Date14 August 1990

Page 1387

910 F.2d 1387
59 USLW 2141
EASTER HOUSE, an Illinois not-for-profit corporation,
Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Thomas FELDER, Florence McGuire and Joan Satoloe,
Defendants-Appellants.
No. 86-2164.
United States Court of Appeals,
Seventh Circuit.
Aug. 14, 1990.

Page 1389

James Figliulo, Foran, Wiss & Schultz, Chicago, Ill., for plaintiff-appellee.

Thomas A. Ioppolo, Asst. Atty. Gen., Office of Atty. Gen., Chicago, Ill., for defendants-appellants.

Before BAUER, Chief Judge, and CUMMINGS, WOOD, Jr., CUDAHY, POSNER, COFFEY, FLAUM, EASTERBROOK, RIPPLE, MANION and KANNE, Circuit Judges.

KANNE, Circuit Judge.

The en banc review which we undertake today constitutes the second of its sort for this case. Our original en banc decision in this case was Easter House v. Felder, 879 F.2d 1458 (7th Cir.1989). In that decision, we concluded that Easter House could not pursue a remedy under Sec. 1983 for either of two alleged deprivations of property which purportedly resulted from actions taken by the appellants as employees of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. With regard to the first alleged deprivation, we held that Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 101 S.Ct. 1908, 68 L.Ed.2d 420 (1981) and its progeny precluded the imposition

Page 1390

of Sec. 1983 liability in that the appellants' conduct was "random and unauthorized" and adequate state law remedies provided all the process which was due under the fourteenth amendment. A second alleged deprivation of property was dismissed in that Easter House had not identified a property interest of which it had been deprived. That decision, however, has been vacated by the Supreme Court and remanded for reexamination in light of Zinermon v. Burch, --- U.S. ----, 110 S.Ct. 975, 108 L.Ed.2d 100 (1990). We have conducted that reexamination and conclude that our original en banc decision is consistent not only with the dictates of Parratt v. Taylor, but also with the holding in Zinermon. Accordingly, we modify our original en banc opinion to account for the Court's pronouncements in Zinermon, but reaffirm our previous disposition of these issues.

I. BACKGROUND 1

Easter House is a Chicago-based adoption agency, owned and operated by Seymour Kurtz and licensed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services ("DCFS"). This suit arises from a series of events involving (1) Easter House's application for a renewal license, (2) its Executive Director's decision to depart while the application was pending and open a rival adoption agency with a similar name, (3) the appellants' decisions, as DCFS employees, to delay action upon Easter House's renewal license and to expedite action upon the former director's application to start a new agency, and (4) the appellants' decision to order various investigations of Easter House's operating procedures approximately two years later. According to Easter House, the appellants' actions were taken under color of state law and deprived Easter House of identifiable constitutionally-protected property interests in violation of 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983. We will treat Easter House's claims as involving two separate conspiracies and set forth the facts supporting each.

A. The Licensing Conspiracy

Easter House alleged that the appellants conspired with Easter House's former Executive Director to deprive it of, among other things, its operating license. This conspiracy involved two separate and distinct prongs. First, Easter House alleged that the appellants acted improperly in delaying action upon Easter House's application for a renewal license. Second, Easter House contended that the appellants improperly granted a license to Easter House's former Executive Director in an expeditious manner. Easter House claimed that together these two courses of action resulted in a property deprivation in violation of Sec. 1983.

1. Easter House's Application for a Renewal License

Easter House's operating license was scheduled to expire on November 30, 1974. In late November, Easter House began preparing for renewal of that license. Joan Satoloe, a licensing representative assigned to the DCFS's Chicago office, prepared a relicensing study which recommended renewal of Easter House's license for the two-year period beginning December 1, 1974. This recommendation was forwarded to the DCFS's main office in Springfield, Illinois, where the final licensing decisions are made and the licenses ultimately issued.

While Easter House's license was pending, its Executive Director, Millicent Smith, decided to leave, apparently on less than amicable terms. On December 30, 1974, while Satoloe was on vacation, Smith met with Satoloe's immediate supervisor, Florence McGuire, the licensing supervisor for the DCFS's central district, to tell her of her plans to leave Easter House and start a new adoption agency. 2

Page 1391

At that meeting, Smith described the reasons for her growing disenchantment with Easter House. 3 She informed McGuire that she had been planning to leave Easter House for some time, but had delayed her action until Kurtz, Easter House's owner, had left on a year-end vacation. Apparently, his absence would facilitate her ability to start a rival adoption agency called the Easter House Adoption Agency, Inc. ("Easter House II"). 4 She told McGuire that she had decided to use a name closely resembling Easter House and to take Easter House's files 5 to ensure that her leaving would not deprive her of the rewards to which she felt entitled based upon her long tenure at Easter House.

After the meeting, McGuire called the DCFS's Springfield office to request a delay in the mailing of Easter House's renewed license. On the following day, December 31, 1974, Smith wrote to Satoloe and Thomas Felder, the chief of the DCFS for the central district. In that letter, she described the prior day's meeting and stressed the importance of rapid action upon Easter House II's charter application. In a separate letter to McGuire, Smith indicated that Fran Riley, Easter House's only other trained social worker, had decided to leave Easter House and join Easter House II. Smith also thanked McGuire for withholding Easter House's license. On that same day, Smith wrote to Kurtz resigning her position at Easter House.

After discussing Easter House's situation with McGuire, Felder agreed with McGuire that Easter House's renewed license should remain on hold at the Springfield office. On January 6, 1975, Felder wrote to Kurtz, informing him that the departures of Smith and Riley, Easter House's only trained social workers, had put the agency out of compliance with the DCFS's licensing standards. See DCFS Regulation 5.10 (1970) (child welfare agencies must have at least one employee with a Master of Social Work degree and two years of supervisory experience in social work). He also stated that if Easter House wished to resume operations it would have to reattain minimum standards and reapply for a license. 6

Page 1392

On January 8, 1975, upon the advice of a DCFS attorney, Felder wrote a second letter to Kurtz. In this letter, he informed Kurtz that the January 6th letter had been incorrect and that, pursuant to the Illinois Child Care Act of 1969, Easter House would have ten days from receipt of the second letter to request a hearing before the DCFS's refusal to issue a renewal license would become final. However, the second letter did not offer to provide the assistance required by the DCFS's regulations and enforcement manual. See supra note 6.

During the period between the decision to withhold renewal and Kurtz's response on January 22, 1975, the DCFS received two inquiries about the status of Easter House; one from a lawyer representing prospective clients and one from a social worker interested in applying for the position which Smith previously had held. Both callers were told that Easter House had no license. The DCFS further informed the prospective job applicant that the DCFS was in the process of reviewing Easter House's "entire program." In addition, Felder notified Judge Comerford, then the Chief Judge dealing with adoptions in Cook County, that Easter House was no longer licensed to make adoption placements.

Kurtz received both of Felder's letters on January 12, 1975. On January 22, Kurtz wrote the DCFS requesting a hearing and a written statement of charges. On February 4, two weeks after he had hired a new Executive Director, Kurtz met with Felder to discuss information which Kurtz had obtained about Smith's new operation and the relicensing of Easter House. At that meeting, Kurtz waived the hearing which had been offered in the January 8th letter after Felder assured him that the absence of proper staff was the only barrier to the issuance of Easter House's license. Soon thereafter, Satoloe visited Easter House and approved the new Executive Director's credentials. On February 19, 1975, Easter House received its renewed license to operate as a child welfare agency during the period from December 1, 1974, through November 30, 1975--in effect, never losing its legal authority to operate as an adoption agency.

2. Easter House II's Charter Application

The alleged conspiracy to deprive Easter House of its license had a second part. Easter House contended below that the DCFS's actions in granting Smith's license for Easter House II were so irregular as to evidence the DCFS's intent to aid Smith in destroying Easter House.

In Illinois, child welfare agencies such as Easter House and Easter House II must apply to the Illinois Department of State for a charter which operates essentially as a certificate of incorporation. However, unlike ordinary corporations, child welfare agencies are subjected to charter studies by the DCFS in addition to the usual processing by the Illinois Department of State. According to testimony at trial, charter studies for child welfare agencies are intended to ensure that new agencies will serve the public...

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176 practice notes
  • Belcher v. Norton, No. 06-3174.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • August 15, 2007
    ...of a litigant's procedural due process rights where the state provides "a meaningful post-deprivation remedy." Easter House v. Felder, 910 F.2d 1387, 1396 (7th Cir. 1990) (internal citations omitted). Therefore, 497 F.3d 751 Deputy Marshal Norton's depriving Ms. Gleason of her vehicle does ......
  • Soldal v. County of Cook, No. 89-3631
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • August 27, 1991
    ...1908, 68 L.Ed.2d 420 (1981); Zinermon v. Burch, 494 U.S. 113, 110 S.Ct. 975, 108 L.Ed.2d 100 (1990); see also Easter House v. Felder, 910 F.2d 1387, 1396-97 (7th Cir.1990) (en Page 1076 banc). Illinois law entitled the Soldals to sue Terrace Properties and Mrs. Hale for the damages caused b......
  • Jones v. Dane County, No. 92-0946
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • July 20, 1995
    ...662, 664-65, 88 L.Ed.2d 662 (1986). Chorlton's failure to comply with § 48.357(1) is therefore a random act. In Easter House v. Felder, 910 F.2d 1387, 1404 (7th Cir.1990), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 1067, 111 S.Ct. 783, 112 L.Ed.2d 846 (1991), the court Section 1983 must be preserved to remedy ......
  • Daily Servs., LLC v. Valentino, No. 13–4157.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • July 30, 2014
    ...(1st Cir.) (rejecting that proposition); Johnson v. La. Dep't of Agric., 18 F.3d 318, 322 (5th Cir.1994) (same); Easter House v. Felder, 910 F.2d 1387, 1400 (7th Cir.1990) (en banc) (same). Regardless of their positions, the defendants were not authorized to effect deprivations in the way t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
176 cases
  • Belcher v. Norton, No. 06-3174.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • August 15, 2007
    ...of a litigant's procedural due process rights where the state provides "a meaningful post-deprivation remedy." Easter House v. Felder, 910 F.2d 1387, 1396 (7th Cir. 1990) (internal citations omitted). Therefore, 497 F.3d 751 Deputy Marshal Norton's depriving Ms. Gleason of her vehicle does ......
  • Soldal v. County of Cook, No. 89-3631
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • August 27, 1991
    ...1908, 68 L.Ed.2d 420 (1981); Zinermon v. Burch, 494 U.S. 113, 110 S.Ct. 975, 108 L.Ed.2d 100 (1990); see also Easter House v. Felder, 910 F.2d 1387, 1396-97 (7th Cir.1990) (en Page 1076 banc). Illinois law entitled the Soldals to sue Terrace Properties and Mrs. Hale for the damages caused b......
  • Jones v. Dane County, No. 92-0946
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • July 20, 1995
    ...662, 664-65, 88 L.Ed.2d 662 (1986). Chorlton's failure to comply with § 48.357(1) is therefore a random act. In Easter House v. Felder, 910 F.2d 1387, 1404 (7th Cir.1990), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 1067, 111 S.Ct. 783, 112 L.Ed.2d 846 (1991), the court Section 1983 must be preserved to remedy ......
  • Daily Servs., LLC v. Valentino, No. 13–4157.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • July 30, 2014
    ...(1st Cir.) (rejecting that proposition); Johnson v. La. Dep't of Agric., 18 F.3d 318, 322 (5th Cir.1994) (same); Easter House v. Felder, 910 F.2d 1387, 1400 (7th Cir.1990) (en banc) (same). Regardless of their positions, the defendants were not authorized to effect deprivations in the way t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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