Hagan v. Quinn

Decision Date19 January 2012
Docket NumberNo. 11–3213.,11–3213.
PartiesKathleen A. HAGAN, Joseph Prieto, Richard A. Peterson, Peter Akemann, and Gilberto Galicia, Plaintiffs, v. Patrick J. QUINN, Governor of Illinois, Mitch Weisz, Chairman of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, Mario Basurto, Kevin Lamborn, Yolaine Dauphin, Nancy Lindsay, James Demunno, Molly Mason, Dan Donohoo, Thomas Tyrrell, and David Gore, Commissioners of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Central District of Illinois

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Mary Lee Leahy, Leahy Law Offices, Carl R. Draper, Feldman Wasser Draper & Cox, Springfield, IL, for Plaintiff.

Terence J. Corrigan, Karen L. McNaught, Terence J. Corrigan, Illinois Attorney General, Springfield, IL, for Defendant.

OPINION

SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, District Judge.

This cause is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants Patrick J. Quinn, Governor of Illinois; Mitch Weisz, Chairman of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission; and the following commissioners of the Workers' Compensation Commission: Mario Basurto, Kevin Lamborn, Yolaine Dauphin, Nancy Lindsay, James Demunno, Molly Mason, Dan Donohoo, Thomas Tyrrell, and David Gore (d/e 14). Defendants move this Court to dismiss Count I because (1) Plaintiffs fail to allege the personal involvement of the Commission defendants, (2) Governor Quinn is entitled to absolute immunity, and (3) the legislature could constitutionally alter Plaintiffs' terms in office. Defendants move to dismiss Count II and Count III for failure to state a claim. In addition, Defendants assert that they are entitled to qualified immunity and that the Eleventh Amendment bars Plaintiffs' claims for declaratory and injunctive relief. Because Plaintiffs have stated a plausible claim and because issues remain as to whether Defendants are entitled to immunity or whether the Eleventh Amendment bars Plaintiffs' claims, the Motion is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

On July 12, 2011, Plaintiffs, Kathleen A. Hagan, Joseph V. Prieto, Richard A. Peterson, Peter Akemann, and Gilberto Galicia, who at that time were arbitrators on the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission), filed a three-count Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants in their individual and official capacities. Plaintiffs filed the Complaint after the enactment of Public Act 97–18, signed into law by Governor Quinn on June 28, 2011, which contained reforms to the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act (Act)(820 ILCS 305/1, et seq.). One of the provisions of the new legislation provided that Plaintiffs' terms of office as arbitrators expired effective July 1, 2011.

The Complaint alleged as follows. Hagan had been appointed to the position of arbitrator effective July 1989, and Galicia was appointed in 1984. Hagan's and Galicia's appointments, in accordance with State law at the time, had no set termination date, and they served under the protections of the Illinois Personnel Code (20 ILCS 415/1, et seq.), which provided that they could only be removed for just cause.

Prieto, Peterson, and Akemann were appointed after 1989 and reappointed at various points thereafter for six-year terms. Prieto was last appointed in 2008, Peterson in 2009, and Akemann in 2006. Their appointments, in accordance with State law at that time, had the protections of the Illinois Personnel Code, including protection that they could only be removed for just cause during their six-year term.

After July 2005, and before the enactment of Public Act 97–18, the Act provided that arbitrators were appointed to specific terms of office subject to reappointment:

Each arbitrator appointed after the effective date of this amendatory Act of 1989 shall be appointed for a term of 6 years. Each arbitrator shall be appointed for a subsequent term unless the Chairman makes a recommendation to the Commission, no later than 60 days prior to the expiration of the term, not to reappoint the arbitrator. Notice of such a recommendation shall also be given to the arbitrator no later than 60 days prior to the expiration of the term. Upon such recommendation by the Chairman, the arbitrator shall be appointed for a subsequent term unless 8 of 10 members of the Commission, including the Chairman, vote not to reappoint the arbitrator.

820 ILCS 305/14. Plaintiffs allege that by virtue of this provision and the Personnel Code, Plaintiffs have a protected property interest in their employment as arbitrators. See Cmplt. ¶ 15.

On June 28, 2011, Governor Quinn signed into law House Bill 1698, effective immediately on that date as Public Act 97–18. Public Act 97–18 removed the provision cited above (pertaining to six-year terms) and added the following provision, which sets up a one-time appointment procedure:

Notwithstanding any other provision of this Section, the term of all arbitrators serving on the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 97th General Assembly, including any arbitrators on administrative leave, shall terminate at the close of business on July 1, 2011, but the incumbents shall continue to exercise all of their duties until they are reappointed or their successors are appointed.

On or after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 97th General Assembly, arbitrators shall be appointed to 3–year terms by the full Commission, except that initial appointments made on and after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 97th General Assembly shall be made as follows:

(1) All appointments shall be made by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.

(2) 12 arbitrators shall be appointed to terms expiring July 1, 2012; 12 arbitrators shall be appointed to terms expiring July 1, 2012; and all additional arbitrators shall be appointed to terms expiring July 1, 2014.

Upon expiration of a term, the Chairman shall evaluate the performance of the arbitrator and may recommend that he or she be reappointed to a second or subsequent term by the full Commission.

In addition, the amendments require that all arbitrators who had not previously served as arbitrators be authorized to practice law in Illinois.

The Act, as amended, still provides that [a]ll arbitrators shall be subject to the provisions of the Personnel Code,” but now also states: “The changes made to this Section by this amendatory Act of the 97th General Assembly shall prevail over any conflict with the Personnel Code.”

Plaintiffs' Complaint contains three claims: (1) deprivation of a property interest without due process (Count I), brought against all Defendants; (2) deprivation of a liberty interest without due process (Count II) brought against Governor Quinn; and (3) a claim for injunctive and declaratory relief (Count III) brought against all Defendants. In Count I, Plaintiffs allege that their due process rights were violated by the legislation because they were deprived of a property interest in their jobs without due process of law. Plaintiffs allege that they were not given notice of any charges that would constitute legal cause for terminating their employment. They further allege that Defendants did not provide Plaintiffs with any pretermination hearing prior to termination of their employment and the Act did not provide for any notice or opportunity for a hearing prior to termination of their terms of office.

In Count II, Plaintiffs allege they lost their liberty interests in their offices as arbitrators without due process of law. Plaintiffs point to the press release issued by Governor Quinn when he signed Public Act 97–18 into law, which Plaintiffs attached to the Complaint. According to Plaintiffs, the comments made by Governor Quinn that ‘reform’ was needed, including ‘strict performance evaluations,’ cast Plaintiffs in a false light because the former Act required the Commission Chairman to provide annual evaluations of each arbitrator and the Chairman failed to do so.

In Count III, Plaintiffs ask the Court to declare Public Act 97–18 unconstitutional and to enter a permanent injunction prohibitingDefendants from enforcing Public Act 97–18 on Plaintiffs.

When Plaintiffs filed their Complaint, they also filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction based on the alleged denial of their property interest in their jobs as arbitrators. In July 2011, following a hearing, this Court denied Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction. See d/e 12. This Court found that Plaintiffs failed to demonstrate (1) a likelihood of success on the merits, (2) that they had no adequate remedy at law, and (3) that they would suffer irreparable harm if the preliminary injunction was not granted. The Court further found that even if Plaintiffs had established some likelihood of success on the merits, no adequate remedy at law, and irreparable harm, the balance of factors did not weigh heavily in Plaintiffs' favor.

In September 2011, Defendants filed the Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) at issue herein. This Court takes judicial notice that, as indicated by an October 14, 2011 press release, Plaintiffs Hagan, Prieto, Peterson, and Galicia were not reappointed as arbitrators. Plaintiff Akemann was reappointed to a one-year term 1. See, e.g., Smith v. Housing Authority of Southbend, 744 F.Supp.2d 775, 785 (N.D.Ind.2010) (noting that it was proper to take judicial notice of historical documents, documents in the public record, administrative bodies, and state court decisions without converting a motion to dismiss to a motion for summary judgment); Perez v. Comcast, 2011 WL 5237577, at *2 (N.D.Ill.2011) (taking judicial notice of a Department of Labor press release).

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Under Rule 12(b)(6), dismissal is proper where a complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To state a claim upon which relief can be granted, a complaint must provide a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”...

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