Medina v. Spotnail, Inc., 83 C 1540.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
Citation591 F. Supp. 190
Docket NumberNo. 83 C 1540.,83 C 1540.
PartiesConrad R. MEDINA, Plaintiff, v. SPOTNAIL, INC., Swingline, Inc., American Brands Corporation, all Delaware corporations authorized to do business in Illinois, James Rogers and John P. Clark, in their individual and corporate capacities, Defendants.
Decision Date12 June 1984

591 F. Supp. 190

Conrad R. MEDINA, Plaintiff,
SPOTNAIL, INC., Swingline, Inc., American Brands Corporation, all Delaware corporations authorized to do business in Illinois, James Rogers and John P. Clark, in their individual and corporate capacities, Defendants.

No. 83 C 1540.

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

June 12, 1984.

591 F. Supp. 191
591 F. Supp. 192
Arlynn R. Cohen, Abrams, Gomberg & Reese, Ltd., Chicago, Ill., for plaintiff

Susan S. Sher, Donna B. Panich, Robert I. Zielinski, Mayer, Brown & Platt, Chicago, Ill., for defendants.


MORAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff, a professional engineer, is of Filipino ancestry and dark-skinned. He was employed by defendant Spotnail, Inc. on June 5, 1973. He served as vice-president of engineering from April 1978. On January 10, 1982, he was informed that he would be dismissed and on March 31, 1982 he was in fact discharged. Within two months of his discharge he filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). He claimed he was discharged because of his race and color. Plaintiff received a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC and filed this suit within the applicable 90-day period.

Plaintiff's complaint contains ten counts. Count I alleges violation of Title VII, Counts II and III allege illegal conspiracies under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3), Count IV contains a common law claim for tortious interference with contract, and Counts V through X allege common law claims for breach of contract, wrongful interference with contract and unlawful discharge. Defendants

591 F. Supp. 193
move to dismiss certain parties from Count I, to dismiss Counts II and III for failure to state a claim, and to dismiss Counts IV through X for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In the alternative, defendants move for summary judgment on Counts IV through X

I. Propriety of Defendants in Count I

Defendants first argue that John P. Clark and American Brands Corporation are not proper defendants because they were not named as respondents in plaintiff's EEOC charge. Title VII provides for civil actions only against respondents to a charge filed with the EEOC. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1). The 7th Circuit has held that in keeping with the goals of Title VII parties not named as respondents can be sued if the parties had notice of the EEOC charge and had been presented sufficient opportunity to effect a conciliation. See Eggleston v. Chicago Journeymen Plumbers' Local Union No. 130, 657 F.2d 890, 905 (7th Cir.1981), cert. denied, 455 U.S. 1017, 102 S.Ct. 1710, 72 L.Ed.2d 134 (1982). In an affidavit, defendant Clark states he had no notice of the EEOC charge and was not aware of and did not participate in any attempts at conciliation with plaintiff. This affidavit is uncontested and is therefore dispositive. Defendant Clark, having not been named as a respondent and having no opportunity to become involved in the conciliatory process crucial to the effectuation of Title VII, is dismissed from Count I. See Curtis v. Continental Illinois National Bank, 568 F.Supp. 740, 743-44 (N.D.Ill. 1983).

Defendants also move to dismiss defendant American Brands Corporation for the same reasons. American Brands is the parent corporation of defendant Spotnail, Inc., which was named as a respondent in the charge. Plaintiff claims that as a parent corporation American Brands might have maintained sufficient control over the operation of Spotnail to be considered to have received notice. In an affidavit filed with this court, however, the secretary of American Brands has stated that there is no record that American Brands received notice of the charge or that American Brands was asked to participate or actually participated in any conciliatory discussions. The affidavit also stated that Spotnail and American Brands maintained separate boards, bank accounts, work forces, employment programs and financial statements. When a parent corporation has not actually received notice of an EEOC charge, or had an opportunity to participate in conciliatory proceedings, dismissal is proper. See Bernstein v. National Liberty International Corp., 407 F.Supp. 709, 714-16 (E.D.Pa.1976). Plaintiff has shown nothing to indicate that American Brands actually did receive notice, such as plaintiffs demonstrated in Evans v. Meadow Steel Products, Inc., 572 F.Supp. 250, 254-55 (N.D.Ga.1983). In the absence of such a showing American Brands is also dismissed from Count I.

II. The Conspiracy Claims

Counts II and III of the complaint are brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3), alleging conspiracies to deprive plaintiff of his rights under Title VII. The Supreme Court in Great American Federal Savings & Loan Association v. Novotny, 442 U.S. 366, 99 S.Ct. 2345, 60 L.Ed.2d 957 (1979), explicitly found that allowing a Section 1985(3) action for a Title VII violation would undermine the detailed enforcement procedures of that title. "Unimpaired effectiveness can be given to the plan put together by Congress in Title VII only by holding that deprivation of a right created by Title VII cannot be the basis for a cause of action under Section 1985(3)." Id. at 378, 99 S.Ct. at 2352. Accordingly, Counts II and III are dismissed.

III. Jurisdiction

A. Diversity Jurisdiction

Defendants attack the jurisdictional bases for the state claims, Counts IV through X. They claim no independent basis for jurisdiction exists. Plaintiff claims, however, that diversity jurisdiction exists for Counts V and VI because defendant

591 F. Supp. 194
Rogers, the party who destroys the requisite complete diversity, is not named and could not be named in those counts. Diversity jurisdiction, however, cannot be meted out count-by-count. Section 1332 grants jurisdiction to federal courts where "the matter in controversy" is between diverse parties. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Federal courts are required to "scrupulously confine their own jurisdiction to the precise limit which the statute has defined." Healy v. Ratta, 292 U.S. 263, 270, 54 S.Ct. 700, 703, 78 L.Ed. 1248 (1934). Use of the term "the matter," rather than "each individual count," indicates that Congress required complete diversity as to the entire suit. See Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 7 U.S. 267, 2 L.Ed. 435 (1806) (requiring complete diversity in "the suit" rather than each count). Rogers, a citizen of Illinois, is named as a defendant in six of the eight counts of the complaint filed by plaintiff, also a citizen of Illinois. Rogers is a major figure in the suit and in no way a nominal defendant. Accordingly, complete diversity does not exist and no independent federal basis for jurisdiction exists in this case for the state law claims

B. Pendent Jurisdiction

Defendants also argue that this court does not have the power to exercise pendent jurisdiction over the state claims and, if it does, it should exercise its discretion to deny such jurisdiction. Three questions should be considered in determining whether a court has the power to hear state claims: (1) whether there exists a substantial federal claim; (2) whether the state and federal claims derive from a common nucleus of operative fact; and (3) whether the claims are such that plaintiff would ordinarily be expected to try them all in a single proceeding. United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 725, 86 S.Ct. 1130, 1138, 16 L.Ed.2d 218 (1966). The court finds that these three conditions are met. Plaintiff's Title VII claim is a federal claim properly within this court's subject matter jurisdiction. The state claims and the federal claim involve plaintiff's employment with Spotnail and the events culminating in his dismissal and thus derive from a common nucleus of operative fact. Finally, the court concludes that these are the types of claims that would normally be tried together. Accordingly, the court finds that it has the power to hear these claims.

Gibbs, however, makes it clear that a district court has discretion in determining whether or not to exercise its power. In exercising that discretion the court should consider judicial economy, convenience and fairness to the litigants, whether a novel interpretation of state law is required, whether state law issues will predominate over the federal issues and other such questions, including the possibility of jury confusion. See Id. at 726-27, 86 S.Ct. at 1139-40.

A number of federal courts have exercised their discretion not to hear state claims as pendent to a federal Title VII claim. See e.g., Carrillo v. Illinois Bell Telephone Co., 538 F.Supp. 793 (N.D.Ill. 1982); Lazic v. University of Pennsylvania, 513 F.Supp. 761 (E.D.Pa.1981); Hughes v. Marsh Instrument Co., 27 Fair Empl.Prac.Dec. (BNA), ¶ 32,332 (N.D.Ill. 1981). In addition, some courts have held that pendent state claims can never attach to Title VII claims. See Frye v. Pioneer Logging Machinery, Inc., 555 F.Supp. 730, 732-735 (D.S.C.1983); Bennett v. Southern Marine Management Co., 531 F.Supp. 115 (M.D.Fla.1982); Lim v. International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit, Inc., 510 F.Supp. 722 (E.D.Mich.1981). These courts argue that the procedural provisions of, and the type of relief allowed by, Title VII indicate a congressional intent to preclude the attachment of pendent state claims to the federal Title VII claim. Following Aldinger v. Howard, 427 U.S. 1, 96 S.Ct. 2413, 49 L.Ed.2d 276 (1976), a pendent party case, they find that pendent jurisdiction is not allowed. A number of courts, on the other...

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