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Campbell v. Forest Preserve District of Cook County

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

May 15, 2014

DAVID CAMPBELL, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
FOREST PRESERVE DISTRICT OF COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS, Defendant-Appellee

Argued: April 8, 2014.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 1:13-cv-00845 -- Thomas M. Durkin, Judge.

For David Campbell, Plaintiff - Appellant: Anthony J. Peraica, Chicago, IL.

For Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois, Defendant - Appellee: Hubert O. Thompson, Brothers & Thompson, Chicago, IL.

Before POSNER and TINDER, Circuit Judges, and LAWRENCE, District Judge.[*]

OPINION

Page 666

Tinder, Circuit Judge.

David Campbell appeals the dismissal of a race-discrimination claim he brought against his former employer, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County (FPD), under 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The district court dismissed his claim on the ground that § 1981 does not create a private right of action against state actors. We agree; therefore, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

Campbell formerly worked as a laborer at the Cermak Family Aquatic Center in Lyons, Illinois, a facility operated by the FPD. In September 2010, however, a security camera recorded him having sex with a coworker in the office of the Aquatic Center. A few weeks later, the FPD fired him. In February 2013, nearly two and a half years later, Campbell sued the FPD in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

In his original complaint, Campbell brought two constitutional claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and one statutory claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1981. His § 1983 claims alleged that he was denied progressive discipline in violation of his right to due process and that he was fired because of his race in violation of his right to equal protection of the laws. His § 1981 claim alleged that his termination violated that statute's prohibition on racial discrimination in the making and enforcement of contracts.

The FPD moved for summary judgment on Campbell's § 1983 claims, arguing that they were time-barred because they were governed by Illinois's two-year statute of limitations for personal-injury torts. The FPD also argued that Campbell's § 1981 claim was barred by the same statute of limitations, given the Supreme Court's holding that § 1983 " provides the exclusive federal damages remedy for the violation of the rights guaranteed by § 1981 when the claim is pressed against a state actor." Jett v. Dallas Indep. Sch. Dist., 491 U.S. 701, 735, 109 S.Ct. 2702, 105 L.Ed.2d 598 (1989). Apparently conceding that his § 1983 claims were time-barred, but believing that his § 1981 claim was not, Campbell sought leave to amend his complaint to bring a single claim under § 1981, and the district court allowed him to do so.

The FPD moved to dismiss Campbell's amended complaint, reasserting its argument that under Jett, § 1983 provides the

Page 667

exclusive remedy for violations of § 1981 committed by state actors. The district court agreed and dismissed Campbell's § 1981 claim. In addition, although he did not request leave to file a second amended complaint, the district court held that Campbell would not be " permitted to replead under § 1983 because he has already done that once in his original complaint and such a claim would be barred by the statute of limitations."

On appeal, Campbell argues that Jett was superseded by the Civil Rights Act of 1991 and that as a result, § 1981 provides a remedy against state actors independent of § 1983. He further argues that if we were to allow his claim to proceed directly under § 1981, it would be timely because it would be governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1658's four-year statute of limitations, rather than the two-year statute of limitations governing § 1983 claims brought in Illinois.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

" We review de novo a district court's ruling on a motion to dismiss, accepting as true all factual assertions in the complaint." Seitz v. City of Elgin, 719 F.3d 654, 655-56 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 134 S.Ct. 692, 187 L.Ed.2d 551 (2013). Ordinarily, we would review a district court's decision whether to allow a party to file a second amended complaint for abuse of discretion. St. John's United Church of Christ v. City of Chicago, 502 F.3d 616, 625 (7th Cir. 2007). However, in this case, Campbell did not request leave to file a second amended complaint in the district court, nor does he challenge the district court's ...


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