Hayes v. City of Chicago

Citation114 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. (BNA) 801,670 F.3d 810
Decision Date01 March 2012
Docket NumberNo. 10–3750.,10–3750.
PartiesRaymond HAYES, Plaintiff–Appellant, v. CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendant–Appellee.
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)


Kenneth N. Flaxman (argued), Attorney, Chicago, IL, for PlaintiffAppellant.

Jonathon D. Byrer (argued), Attorney, City of Chicago Law Department, Chicago, IL, for DefendantAppellee.

Before KANNE, WILLIAMS, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.

KANNE, Circuit Judge.

This case marks the fourth time Raymond Hayes has asked or could have asked a court or administrative agency to rule on whether he was unlawfully terminated by the Chicago Police Department. Namely, Hayes has litigated his claim before the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“IHRC”), and two federal courts. Hayes brought his most recent claim to federal court in 2010. Finding that this complaint arose from the “same group of operative facts as those before the Circuit Court of Cook County,” the district court dismissed Hayes's suit as barred by claim preclusion. We affirm.

I. Background

The facts here are essentially undisputed. Raymond Hayes began work as a Chicago police officer in October 1976. In 1992, the Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department charged Hayes with several counts of misconduct related to his improper arrest of a taxi driver. On March 5, 1993, after a full hearing before the Police Board, Hayes was found to have violated five departmental rules. He was subsequently fired. In April 1993, Hayes petitioned the Circuit Court of Cook County for administrative review of the Police Board's ruling. Hayes raised eleven challenges to the Police Board's decision, all of which in one way or another suggested that the Board's ruling was against the manifest weight of the evidence or that the Board had improperly considered certain evidence. Nowhere in his petition before the Circuit Court did Hayes claim that his termination was unlawfully motivated by his race. The Circuit Court of Cook County affirmed the Police Board, as did the Illinois Appellate Court. The Illinois Supreme Court denied Hayes's petition for leave to appeal. Hayes v. Police Bd. of Chicago, 162 Ill.2d 567, 209 Ill.Dec. 801, 652 N.E.2d 341 (1995) (table).

On July 20, 1994, Hayes filed a complaint with the IHRC, alleging that the Police Board discriminated and retaliated against him on the basis of his age and race. Hayes eventually withdrew the retaliation and age allegations, leaving just the race-discrimination claim. For reasons that are not entirely clear, the IHRC did not definitively rule on Hayes's claims until January 12, 2011. Meanwhile, in 1995 Hayes filed suit in federal court, alleging that the Chicago Police Department unlawfully retaliated and discriminated against him in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983, and various Illinois state laws. The district court dismissed Hayes's complaint as barred by res judicata, finding that “Hayes could have raised his civil-rights argument at the time he appealed to the circuit court [of Cook County].”

In September and October 2005, an administrative law judge for the IHRC finally held hearings on Hayes's discrimination claims. Four years later—again, we do not understand the delay—the ALJ recommended Hayes be awarded a total of $274,283.05 for lost wages, holiday and overtime pay, lost pension annuity interest, and other prejudgment interest. The ALJ rejected Hayes's application for attorney's fees. Hayes filed a motion to reconsider the denial of attorney's fees to which an IHRC panel reviewing the ALJ's recommendation ultimately agreed in a September 2009 remand order. On January 12, 2011, a second IHRC panel awarded Hayes attorney's fees in the amount of $400,555.50. Neither party appealed the IHRC's final determination.

Apparently unsatisfied with the IHRC's judgment even though his attorney's fee award had not yet been determined, Hayes filed this federal lawsuit on June 6, 2010, alleging that his 1993 termination was improperly motivated by racial discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e–2. The City moved to dismiss the lawsuit under Rule 12(b)(6) on the ground that Hayes's Title VII claim was barred by claim preclusion. The City theorized that Hayes's most recent claim should have been brought to the Circuit Court of Cook County in 1993. Agreeing with the City, the district court granted the motion as if it were filed as a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings. Hayes filed this timely appeal.

II. Analysis

We review de novo the district court's decision to dismiss Hayes's complaint on Rule 12(c) grounds. Buchanan–Moore v. Cnty. of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir.2009); Moss v. Martin, 473 F.3d 694, 698 (7th Cir.2007). In so doing, [w]e review the judgment for the defendants by employing the same standard that we apply when reviewing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).” Pisciotta v. Old Nat'l Bancorp, 499 F.3d 629, 633 (7th Cir.2007). Taking all well-pled allegations as true and drawing all reasonable inferences in Hayes's favor, we will affirm a Rule 12(c) dismissal “only if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff cannot prove any facts that would support his claim for relief.” Thomas v. Guardsmark, Inc., 381 F.3d 701, 704 (7th Cir.2004).

The sole issue presented for our review is whether claim preclusion—traditionally known as res judicata—bars Hayes's claim. Claim preclusion, of course, prohibits litigants from relitigating claims that were or could have been litigated during an earlier proceeding. Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 94, 101 S.Ct. 411, 66 L.Ed.2d 308 (1980); Highway J Citizens Grp. v. U.S. Dep't of Transp., 456 F.3d 734, 741 (7th Cir.2006). We must turn to Illinois preclusion law because Congress has specifically required all federal courts to give preclusive effect to state-court judgments whenever the courts of the State from which the judgments emerged would do so.” Allen, 449 U.S. at 96, 101 S.Ct. 411 ( citing 28 U.S.C. § 1738); Durgins v. City of E. St. Louis, 272 F.3d 841, 844 (7th Cir.2001). In Illinois, claim preclusion requires: (1) “a final judgment on the merits rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction”; (2) “an identity of cause of action”; and (3) “an identity of parties or their privies.” River Park, Inc. v. City of Highland Park, 184 Ill.2d 290, 234 Ill.Dec. 783, 703 N.E.2d 883, 889 (1998). For the second element—identity of cause of action—Illinois courts employ a transactional test, id., 234 Ill.Dec. 783, 703 N.E.2d at 893, which provides “the assertion of different kinds of theories of relief still constitutes a single cause of action if a single group of operative facts give rise to the assertion of relief,” Rodgers v. St. Mary's Hosp. of Decatur, 149 Ill.2d 302, 173 Ill.Dec. 642, 597 N.E.2d 616, 621 (1992) (quotation marks and citation omitted). In determining whether two complaints arose from the same transaction and operative facts, Illinois courts consider “whether the facts are related in time, space, origin, or motivation, whether they form a convenient trial unit, and whether their treatment as a unit conforms to the parties' expectations or business understanding or usage.” River Park, 234 Ill.Dec. 783, 703 N.E.2d at 883 ( quoting Restatement (Second) of Judgments § 24 (1982)).

On appeal, Hayes concedes the first and third claim-preclusion elements—final judgment on the merits and identity of parties. Instead, Hayes primarily argues that his Title VII complaint and his 1993 complaint before the Police Board and Circuit Court of Cook County do not arise from the same core of operative facts. To support his argument, Hayes first cites the IHRC's September 2009 remand order, which found that the Police Board [judgment] was limited to deciding whether or not [Hayes] had committed the underlying misconduct,” while the IHRC judgment was limited to deciding “whether or not the [City] had in fact disciplined [Hayes] more harshly than similarly situated non-Black police officers.” Hayes reads the IHRC remand order as definitively deciding that claim preclusion does not apply to his Title VII complaint.

Unfortunately for Hayes, he has conflated claim preclusion with issue preclusion—also known as collateral estoppel. Issue preclusion, a narrower doctrine than claim preclusion, prevents litigants from relitigating an issue that has already been decided in a previous judgment. See Matrix IV, Inc. v. Am. Nat'l Bank & Trust Co. of Chicago, 649 F.3d 539, 547 (7th Cir.2011). Here, the 2009 IHRC remand order only decided that the issue presented to the Police Board in 1993—Hayes's alleged misconduct—was different than the issue Hayes presented to the IHRC—Hayes's unlawful termination. The IHRC opinion does not, nor does it purport to, resolve the question of whether Hayes brought or could have brought his Title VII claim to the Circuit Court of Cook County in 1993. Hayes also attempts to find support in our decision in Johnson v. Univ. of Wis.-Milwaukee, 783 F.2d 59 (7th Cir.1986), but this decision, like the IHRC's remand order, only addresses issue preclusion. Although we used the general term res judicata in Johnson,1 we ultimately found that the issue decided by the Wisconsin appeal tribunal and the issue in this age discrimination suit are not identical.” Id. at 62 (emphasis added).

With the correct preclusion doctrine in hand, we now turn to whether Hayes's Title VII claim arose from the same operative facts as his claim before the Police Board. We find that there is such an identity between the two claims because the underlying transaction of both actions is not only related in time, space, origin, and motivation, but the underlying transaction—Hayes's termination from the Chicago Police Department—is identical. For example, Hayes alleges in his 2010 complaint that defendant discharged plaintiff because of his race, in...

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