Green v. Illinois Dept. of Transp., No. 84 C 7081.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
Writing for the CourtDaniel H. Brennan and Gladys Stevens, Asst. Attys. Gen., Chicago, Ill., for defendants
Citation609 F. Supp. 1021
Decision Date05 March 1985
Docket NumberNo. 84 C 7081.
PartiesRobert L. GREEN, Sr., Plaintiff, v. ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, et al., Defendants.

609 F. Supp. 1021

Robert L. GREEN, Sr., Plaintiff,
v.
ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, et al., Defendants.

No. 84 C 7081.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, E.D.

March 5, 1985.


609 F. Supp. 1022

Freddrenna M. Lyle, Chicago, Ill., for plaintiff.

Daniel H. Brennan and Gladys Stevens, Asst. Attys. Gen., Chicago, Ill., for defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ASPEN, District Judge:

Robert Green ("Green") has sued defendants, Illinois Department of Transportation ("IDOT") and Joseph Kostur and Suzanne Czajkowski, two IDOT administrators, alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.; 42 U.S.C. § 1981; and the Fifth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. Although written in one count, the complaint makes out two categories of claims—one for discrimination in employment on the basis of race and the other for retaliation against Green for filing discrimination charges.

Defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint.1 The thrust of defendants' argument is that plaintiff's claims are barred by the doctrine of res judicata. They also argue that the claim under section 1981 and the constitutional claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985 must be dismissed because Title VII is the exclusive remedy for this discrimination action. For the reasons stated below, defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

609 F. Supp. 1023

I.

Green, a 64 year old black man, worked for IDOT for 14 years until July 1983, when he was fired. Defendant Joseph Kostur ("Kostur") is an IDOT Safety and Claims Manager, and Suzanne Czajkowski ("Czajkowski") is a Senior Claims Examiner. Kostur and Czajkowski were Green's supervisors at his most recent job with IDOT.

IDOT hired Green in March 1969 as a Right of Way Agent. In 1979, Green filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") a discrimination charge against IDOT, accusing it of failing to promote him because of race. Under a settlement agreement Green was promoted in 1979 to the position of investigator. In January 1980, plaintiff again filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC. Following this charge, IDOT agreed it would give plaintiff primary consideration for the next available position for which he was qualified. However, IDOT never promoted him. In July 1983 IDOT fired Green, who remains unemployed.

In December 1981, Green sued IDOT alleging, among other things, violations of Title VII. In particular, Green alleged that following his complaint to the EEOC in January 1980, IDOT in retaliation harassed him in various ways. He alleged that supervisors monitored his work and disciplined him more extensively than that of his white co-workers. For example, between September 1979 and March 1980, they allegedly reviewed his work in detailed memoranda, while not so reviewing other employees. The complaint also alleged that he had applied for a promotion in late 1980, and that IDOT denied him that promotion because of his race. The complaint alleges that both the failure to promote and the retaliatory acts violated Title VII.2

By agreement of the parties, the 1981 suit ("Green I") was transferred to a Magistrate. On December 14, 1983, the Magistrate dismissed the suit for want of prosecution when Green's counsel failed to appear at a status hearing. This was the third "DWP" in the case, as this Court had twice before dismissed and then reinstated the case. Green moved to vacate the Magistrate's order of dismissal. The Magistrate denied the motion on March 29, 1984, and Green never appealed.

In July 1983, while Green I was still pending, Green filed another EEOC complaint. This charge alleged that his recent discharge was both retaliatory and based on race. In May 1984, the EEOC issued a "Right to Sue" letter, and Green filed this suit ("Green II") on time in August 1984. The complaint in Green II recites the same history that was alleged in Green I. The complaint adds that the discrimination in promotion occurred again in September 1982, and that the regular harassment and excess scrutiny continued until Green was fired. The complaint also alleges that Green's firing was an additional and final act of retaliation and discrimination. The suit seeks injunctive and monetary relief under Title VII, as well as under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983 and 1985. Arguing that this suit is a reincarnation of Green I, IDOT has moved to dismiss.

II.

The doctrine of res judicata, or "claim preclusion," serves to "relieve parties of the cost and vexation of multiple lawsuits, conserve judicial resources, and, by preventing inconsistent decisions, encourage reliance on adjudication." Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 94, 101 S.Ct. 411, 415, 66 L.Ed.2d 308 (1980). Under this doctrine, resolution of a previous case bars litigation of a later claim if the following elements are present: (1) the final judgment in the previous case was on the merits; (2) parties or their privies in the two suits are the same; and (3) the causes of action in both suits are the same. Mandarino v. Pollard, 718 F.2d 845, 849 (7th Cir.1983), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 105

609 F. Supp. 1024
S.Ct. 116, 83 L.Ed.2d 59 (1984); Lee v. City of Peoria, 685 F.2d 196, 199 (7th Cir.1982)

It is clear that the first and second elements are met here. The dismissal of Green I for want of prosecution under Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b) was a "final judgment on the merits" for res judicata purposes.3 See, e.g., Kotakis v. Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co., 520 F.2d 570, 576-77 (7th Cir.1975), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 1016, 96 S.Ct. 451, 46 L.Ed.2d 388 (1975); 18 C. Wright, A. Miller & E. Cooper, Federal Practice & Procedure, § 4440 (1981) at 362-363. Likewise, the parties of Green I and Green II are identical under the res judicata doctrine. While Green II joins two IDOT officials as defendants, a government agency and its employees are in privity for res judicata purposes. See, e.g., Mandarino v. Pollard, 718 F.2d at 850.

The more complex issue in this case is whether Green I and Green II set forth the same cause of action. The Seventh Circuit has used the following test to determine whether two suits state identical causes of action:

A cause of action consists of a single core of operative facts which give the plaintiff a right to seek redress for the wrong concerned. Even though one group of facts may give rise to different claims for relief upon different theories of recovery, there remains a single cause of action. If the same facts are essential to the maintenance of both proceedings or the same evidence is needed to sustain both, then there is identity between the allegedly different causes of action asserted, and res judicata bars the latter section.

Lee v. City of Peoria, 685 F.2d at 200, quoting Morris v. Union Oil of California, 96 Ill.App.3d 148, 157, 51 Ill.Dec. 770, 777, 421 N.E.2d 278, 285 (1981). As a corollary to this rule, res judicata operates to bar not only those matters which were actually raised in the prior action but any matter which might have been raised. Harper Plastics, Inc. v. Amoco Chemical Corp., 657 F.2d 939, 945 (7th Cir.1981). In other words, an unsuccessful plaintiff may not sneak around the doctrine of res judicata by cloaking a cause of action in a theory of recovery untried in the previous suit. Lambert v. Conrad, 536 F.2d 1183, 1185 (7th Cir.1976). Under these principles it is clear that much of the present complaint is barred. Res judicata bars relief here to the extent it is based upon acts which occurred before the first complaint was filed, as those acts are part of the same "core of facts" that Green alleged in his first suit. Thus, res judicata bars allegations concerning the failure to promote Green in 1978, see complaint ¶ 16(a), and the various acts of harassment which occurred before Green I was filed.

However, many of the facts alleged in the pending suit, while of the same nature as those alleged in Green I, occurred after the filing but before the dismissal of that case. For example, IDOT allegedly discharged Green in July 1983, continued to harass him until that date and denied him promotion in September 1982. Because these alleged acts occurred after the first suit was filed, the principles of res judicata may dictate a different result for these acts. A continuing course of conduct by a defendant, even if related to conduct complained of in an earlier suit, generally creates a separate cause of action. See, e.g., Lawlor v. National Screen Service Corp., 349 U.S. 322, 328-29, 75 S.Ct. 865, 868-69, 99 L.Ed. 1122 (1955) (continuing antitrust violations). Thus, the doctrine of res judicata does not stop a plaintiff from bringing a retaliation claim based on acts

609 F. Supp. 1025
occurring after judgment in the first suit. See Kilgoar v. Colbert County Bd. of Educ., 578 F.2d 1033, 1035 (5th Cir.1978); Dawkins v. Nabisco, Inc., 549 F.2d 396, 397 (5th Cir.1977), cert. denied, 433 U.S. 910, 97 S.Ct. 2978, 53 L.Ed.2d 1095 (1977); Kavanaugh v. Sperry Univac, 511 F.Supp. 705, 706 (N.D.Ill.1981) (retaliatory refusal to rehire employee who had lost previous employment discrimination claim creates separate cause of action), aff'd, 729 F.2d 1464 (7th Cir.1984), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 104 S.Ct. 2665, 81 L.Ed.2d 370 (1984); 18 C. Wright, A. Miller & E. Cooper, Federal Practice & Procedure, § 4409 (1981) at 81; see also Ohio-Sealy Mattress Mfg. Co. v. Sealy, Inc., 669 F.2d 490, 494 (7th Cir. 1982) (continuing...

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18 practice notes
  • Tafoya v. Adams, Civ. A. No. 84-K-1535.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Colorado
    • 8 Julio 1985
    ...1199 (6th Cir.1984); Talley v. City of De Soto, 37 Fair Empl. Prac.Cases 375 (N.D.Tex.1985); Green v. Illinois Dept. of Transportation, 609 F.Supp. 1021 (E.D.Ill.1985); Ratliff v. City of Milwaukee, 608 F.Supp. 1109 (E.D.Wis. 1985); Torres v. Wisconsin Dept. of Health & Social Svcs., 59......
  • Keller v. Prince George's County, No. 86-3876
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • 26 Agosto 1987
    ...discrimination under Sec. 1983. See Snell v. Suffolk County, 611 F.Supp. 521, 523 (E.D.N.Y.1985); Green v. Illinois Dep't of Transp., 609 F.Supp. 1021, 1027 (N.D.Ill.1985); Meyett v. Coleman, 613 F.Supp. 39 (W.D.Wis.1985); Storey v. Board of Regents, 600 F.Supp. 838, 840 (W.D.Wis.1985); Zew......
  • Loveland Essential Grp., LLC v. Grommon Farms, Inc., No. 11CA0722.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • 2 Febrero 2012
    ...919 F.Supp. at 571 (“any cut- [318 P.3d 14]off after the filing date would be arbitrary and unwieldy”); Green v. Ill. Dep't of Transp., 609 F.Supp. 1021, 1026 (N.D.Ill.1985) (“[I]t is difficult, if not impossible, for a court to draw a line as to when in a previous lawsuit a plaintiff shoul......
  • D'Last Corp. v. Ugent, No. 1-96-0016
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 30 Abril 1997
    ...in the first state court action but before that complaint had been dismissed. In Green v. Illinois Department of Transportation, 609 F.Supp. 1021 (D.C.Ill.1985), the federal court was presented with a similar fact pattern. The plaintiff in that case had filed an action in December 1981 alle......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
18 cases
  • Tafoya v. Adams, Civ. A. No. 84-K-1535.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Colorado
    • 8 Julio 1985
    ...1199 (6th Cir.1984); Talley v. City of De Soto, 37 Fair Empl. Prac.Cases 375 (N.D.Tex.1985); Green v. Illinois Dept. of Transportation, 609 F.Supp. 1021 (E.D.Ill.1985); Ratliff v. City of Milwaukee, 608 F.Supp. 1109 (E.D.Wis. 1985); Torres v. Wisconsin Dept. of Health & Social Svcs., 59......
  • Keller v. Prince George's County, No. 86-3876
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • 26 Agosto 1987
    ...discrimination under Sec. 1983. See Snell v. Suffolk County, 611 F.Supp. 521, 523 (E.D.N.Y.1985); Green v. Illinois Dep't of Transp., 609 F.Supp. 1021, 1027 (N.D.Ill.1985); Meyett v. Coleman, 613 F.Supp. 39 (W.D.Wis.1985); Storey v. Board of Regents, 600 F.Supp. 838, 840 (W.D.Wis.1985); Zew......
  • Loveland Essential Grp., LLC v. Grommon Farms, Inc., No. 11CA0722.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • 2 Febrero 2012
    ...919 F.Supp. at 571 (“any cut- [318 P.3d 14]off after the filing date would be arbitrary and unwieldy”); Green v. Ill. Dep't of Transp., 609 F.Supp. 1021, 1026 (N.D.Ill.1985) (“[I]t is difficult, if not impossible, for a court to draw a line as to when in a previous lawsuit a plaintiff shoul......
  • D'Last Corp. v. Ugent, No. 1-96-0016
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 30 Abril 1997
    ...in the first state court action but before that complaint had been dismissed. In Green v. Illinois Department of Transportation, 609 F.Supp. 1021 (D.C.Ill.1985), the federal court was presented with a similar fact pattern. The plaintiff in that case had filed an action in December 1981 alle......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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