Coleman v. Sheriff et al
MEMORANDUM Opinion and Order: For the reasons set forth in the memorandum opinion and order, the Court grants Colemans motion to reconsider based onan error in application of law. 59 Signed by the Honorable Thomas M. Durkin on 9/19/2017:Mailed notice(srn, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
No. 16 C 2682
Judge Thomas M. Durkin
SHERIFF OF COOK COUNTY,
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Sharun M. Coleman (“Coleman”) has asked this Court to reconsider
Judge Darrah’s February 15, 2007 Memorandum Opinion and Order dismissing her
state law petition for writ of mandamus, finding “no basis for federal subject matter
jurisdiction over plaintiff’s state law claim for mandamus.” R. 54 at 4. For the
reasons set forth below, the Court grants Coleman’s Motion to Reconsider based on
an error in application of law.
This Court has “inherent authority” under Rule 54(b) to reconsider its
interlocutory orders. Janusz v. City of Chi., 78 F. Supp. 3d 782, 787 (N.D. Ill. 2015);
Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b) (Non-final orders “may be revised at any time before entry of a
judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties’ rights and liabilities.”). A
motion to reconsider is not, however, a proper vehicle for rehashing arguments that
the Court previously rejected. See Janusz, 78 F. Supp 3d at 787. “Rather, a motion
to reconsider allows a party to direct the court’s attention to manifest errors of fact
or law, a significant change in the law or facts, the court’s misunderstanding of a
party’s argument, or a party’s contention that the court ruled on an issue that was
not properly before it.” Id.
Plaintiff Sharun M. Coleman is an African-American resident of the
Northern District of Illinois. R. 18 ¶ 3. In 2014, Coleman applied for employment as
a correctional officer with the Cook County Sheriff. Id. ¶ 7. Before an applicant can
be employed as a correctional officer, Illinois law requires that he or she be certified
by the Merit Board, an entity created by Illinois law, as being qualified for such
employment. 55 ILCS 5/3-7002; R. 18 ¶ 8. At the time Coleman applied for
employment, she met all of the qualifications required for certification by the Merit
Board. Id. ¶ 9. After applying for employment as a correctional officer, Coleman
successfully passed all of the mental, physical, psychiatric, and other tests and
examinations that had been prescribed by the Merit Board. Id. ¶ 10. However, the
Merit Board did not certify Coleman in 2015. Id. ¶ 12.
On September 22, 2016, Coleman filed an amended complaint against the
Merit Board, the Sheriff of Cook County, and Cook County. R. 18. The complaint
alleges that the Sheriff of Cook County denied plaintiff equal employment
opportunities in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act due to racial animus on
the part of the Merit Board. In the alternative, Coleman seeks a state law writ of
mandamus against the Merit Board compelling the Merit Board to certify her for
employment as a correctional officer and for other equitable relief. R. 18 ¶¶ 17-19.
After filing this lawsuit, Coleman learned that the Merit Board refused to
certify her for employment because its investigator had stated that Coleman had
withheld her relationship with a convicted felon from the Merit Board. Id. ¶ 15.
Coleman alleges that this statement was false, and that it was contradicted by the
materials considered by the investigator. Id. ¶ 16. Coleman also alleges that the
investigator was motivated by racial animus or, in the alternative, was grossly
The Merit Board moved for dismissal of Coleman’s state law claim. R. 28. On
February 15, 2017, Judge Darrah issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order,
finding that because plaintiff did not assert a federal claim against the Merit Board,
there was “no basis for federal subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff’s state law
claim for mandamus.” R. 55 at 4. Judge Darrah therefore dismissed Coleman’s state
law writ of mandamus claim against the Merit Board. Id. Presently before the
Court is Coleman’s Motion to Reconsider Judge Darrah’s Opinion dismissing her
state law mandamus claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. R. 59.
Coleman argues that the Court committed manifest error of law when it
ruled that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over Coleman’s state law claim
against the Merit Board on the ground that plaintiff is not asserting a federal claim.
Coleman’s writ of mandamus claim arises under Illinois state law. The Court
does not have original jurisdiction over this state law claim and may address it only
if it chooses to exercise its supplemental jurisdiction. “28 U.S.C. § 1367 allows a
district court to decide any ‘claims’ related to other claims over which the court has
original jurisdiction ‘if they are so closely related to the plaintiff’s federal-law claims
as to be in effect part of the same case.’” Hadad v. World Fuel Services, Inc., No 13 C
3802, 2013 WL 6498894 at *3 (Dec. 11, 2013) (quoting Williams Elecs. Games, Inc.
v. Garrity, 479 F.3d 904, 906 (7th Cir. 2007)); see also Ammerman v. Sween, 54 F.3d
423 (7th Cir. 1995) (“[28 U.S.C. § 1367] authorize[s] federal courts to hear all claims
that are ‘so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they
form part of the same case or controversy.”).
Claims form part of the same case or controversy when they “derive from a
common nucleus of operative fact.” United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 725
(1966). To meet this requirement, “[a] loose factual connection between the claims is
generally sufficient.” Ammerman, 54 F.3d at 424. The purpose of supplemental
jurisdiction is “to promote ‘economy in litigation,’ as it would be inefficient to
adjudicate essentially the same issues in two separate forums.” Hadad, 2013 WL
6498894 at *3. Additionally, “[t]he joinder of an additional party against whom the
plaintiff has a state claim closely related to the claim on which federal jurisdiction
is based . . . is expressly authorized by the statute conferring supplemental
jurisdiction on the federal courts.” Wilson v. City of Chicago, 120 F.3d 681, 683-84
(7th Cir. 1997).
There is no dispute that the Court has original jurisdiction over Coleman’s
Title VII claim against defendants Cook County Sheriff and Cook County. Coleman
asserts that her state law claim against the Merit Board is “part of the same case or
controversy as her Title VII claim,” given the existence of a “loose factual connection
[present] between the claims.” R. 59 ¶ 10. Coleman argues that this connection is
established because allegations that her application to be a correctional officer was
improperly denied are present in both claims.
Coleman’s Title VII claim and state law mandamus claim form part of the
same case or controversy given that the factual allegations supporting both claims
for relief are identical. Thus, the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1367 are met. But that
does not end the inquiry. We must still consider whether there is some reason to
decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over state law claims. The statute
explains that a district court can decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction if: (1)
the claim raises a novel or complex issue of state law; (2) the claim substantially
predominates over the claim or claims over which the district court has original
jurisdiction; (3) the district court has dismissed all claims over which it has original
jurisdiction, or (4) in exceptional circumstances, there are other compelling reasons
for declining jurisdiction.1 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c).
Here, Coleman’s state law mandamus action does not meet any of the criteria
listed for declining to exercise of supplemental jurisdiction. First, Coleman’s state
law mandamus claim does not raise “a novel or complex issue of state law.” 28
These principles for declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction “reflect the
understanding that . . . ‘a federal court should consider and weigh in each case, and
at every stage of the litigation, the values of judicial economy, convenience, fairness,
and comity.’” City of Chi. v. Int’l Coll. of Surgeons, 522 U.S. 156, 173 (1997) (quoting
Carnegie-Melon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 350 (1988)).
U.S.C. § 1367(c)(1). Second, Coleman’s state law mandamus claim does not
“substantially predominate over the [Title VII] claim over which the district court
has original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(2). Third, the Court has not dismissed
the Title VII claim, over which it has original jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3).
Lastly, the Merit Board does not assert any “exceptional circumstances” or “other
compelling reasons” for declining jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(4). Although the
Merit Board argues that the Court should decline to exercise jurisdiction based on
the purported weakness of Coleman’s mandamus claim, the merits of a claim are
not a basis for declining to exercise jurisdiction. See Bond v. United States, 564 U.S.
211, 219 (2011) (noting that “the question whether a plaintiff states a claim for
relief ‘goes to the merits’ in the typical case, not the justiciability of a dispute, and
conflation of these two concepts can cause confusion”) (citing Steel Co. v. Citizens for
Better Env’t, 523 U.S. 83, 96-97 (1998)).
Additionally, dismissing Coleman’s state law mandamus claims presents at
least some risk that Coleman will re-litigate these facts in state court and receive
an inconsistent judgment. See Vallero v. Burlington N. R. Co., 749 F. Supp. 908,
910-11 (C.D. Ill. 1990) (“To direct Burlington to take its contribution claims to state
court and re-litigate the identical facts and issues not only wastes scarce judicial
resources, but risks inconsistent judgments.”).
For the foregoing reasons, Coleman’s Motion to Reconsider, R. 59, is granted.2
Honorable Thomas M. Durkin
United States District Judge
Dated: September 19, 2017
Coleman’s mandamus claim seeks a writ of mandamus “compelling the Merit
Board to certify her for employment as a correctional officer,” R. 18 ¶ 19, but this
Court finds that Coleman’s mandamus claim is proper only insofar as she seeks a
more thorough and factually correct investigation by the Merit Board.
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