Justice v. Town of Cicero, Illinois, The et al
MEMORANDUM Opinion and Order written by the Honorable Matthew F. Kennelly on 12/6/2017: For the reasons stated, the Court denies Justice's motion to suspend the closure of his business [dkt. nos. 5 & 7] and also orders him to show cause why hi s lawsuit should not be dismissed on the ground that it is barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion. Justice is directed to file a written response addressing this point by no later than December 27, 2017, and defendants are directed to file a reply by no later than January 17, 2018. The status hearing set for December 11, 2017 is vacated. Mailed notice. (pjg, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
JOHN C. JUSTICE,
TOWN OF CICERO, et al.,
Case No. 17 C 7448
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MATTHEW F. KENNELLY, District Judge:
John Justice has filed a pro se lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Town
of Cicero and two of its officials, Jerry Jarosz and Tony Bertuca, alleging that they have
deprived him of his liberty and property without due process of law. Justice owns a
business ("Microcosm") in Cicero, the nature of which his complaint does not describe.
Evidently Justice does not have a business license, which is required by Cicero city
ordinance. As a result, Cicero issued numerous citations to him—over 400—and
assessed fines totaling over $200,000. Justice has not paid the fines. In July of this
year, Cicero officials closed down his business and padlocked the doors. Justice then
filed a lawsuit in state court seeking a "writ of prohibition," citing among other things the
Illinois Constitution and alleging, in substance, that Cicero's actions constituted an
infringement of his liberty regarding the use of his property.
Several years ago, Justice filed a lawsuit in this Court in which, among other
claims, he challenged Cicero's business licensing ordinance. This Court ruled that his
claim was precluded by the dismissal of a still-earlier lawsuit challenging the ordinance.
Justice v. Town of Cicero, 827 F. Supp. 2d 835, 838 (N.D. Ill. 2011).
In Justice's recent state court lawsuit, the court initially granted a temporary
restraining order on July 19 of this year enjoining Cicero from closing his business. The
court, however, dissolved the TRO on August 8, 2017, and on August 25, 2017, it
denied Justice's subsequent motion seeking to reopen his business. Then, in early
October 2017, the state court dismissed Justice's state court lawsuit with prejudice,
concluding that Justice had "fail[ed] to plead specific facts that show how Defendants'
conduct falls beyond its legitimate authority." Defs.' Resp. to Pl.'s Mot., Ex. B at 3.
Justice filed the present federal lawsuit shortly after that.
Justice has filed a motion entitled "motion to suspend closure of business," which
the Court has construed as a motion for a temporary restraining order. A party seeking
a temporary restraining order, which is essentially what Justice requests in his present
motion, must establish a likelihood of success on the merits, lack of an adequate
remedy at law, and irreparable harm if a restraining order is not granted. See, e.g.,
Lambert v. Buss, 498 F.3d 446, 451 (7th Cir. 2007) (stating the requirements for
issuance of a preliminary injunction, which are identical to the requirements for a TRO).
Justice's claim founders on the first of these elements, so the Court need not address
There are at least two problems with Justice's claim. The first is that he offers no
authority supporting the proposition that a municipality's enforcement of a business
licensing ordinance by shutting down a business that does not comply with it violates
due process. Second, it appears highly likely that Justice's current lawsuit is barred by
the doctrine of claim preclusion. Specifically, Justice filed a nearly identical lawsuit in
state court, which the state court dismissed, entering a judgment on the merits. Under
Illinois law, which under 28 U.S.C. § 1738 governs the preclusive effect of an Illinois
judgment in federal court, the state court judgment precludes Justice from reasserting
essentially the same claim against the same or essentially the same parties in a
separate lawsuit, which is what he is attempting to do. See, e.g., Chicago Title Land
Trust Co. v. Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Sales, 664 F.3d 1075,1079 (7th Cir. 2011)
(applying Illinois law). If these conditions are satisfied, then claim preclusion "will bar
not only every matter that was actually determined in the first suit but also every matter
that might have been raised and determined in that suit." Id. at 1080. This includes the
federal constitutional claim that Justice has brought in the present lawsuit.
For the reasons stated above, the Court denies Justice's motion to suspend the
closure of his business [dkt. nos. 5 & 7] and also orders him to show cause why his
lawsuit should not be dismissed on the ground that it is barred by the doctrine of claim
preclusion. Justice is directed to file a written response addressing this point by no later
than December 27, 2017, and defendants are directed to file a reply by no later than
January 17, 2018. The status hearing set for December 11, 2017 is vacated.
Date: December 6, 2017
MATTHEW F. KENNELLY
United States District Judge
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