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Sklyarsky v. Means-Knaus Partners, L.P.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

January 29, 2015

YAROSLAV S. SKLYARSKY, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
MEANS-KNAUS PARTNERS, L.P., Defendant-Appellee. YAROSLAV S. SKLYARSKY, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
HARVARD MAINTENANCE, INC., Defendant-Appellee

Submitted August 18, 2014, October 30, 2014 [*].

Page 893

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 13 C 6707 -- Joan B. Gottschall, Judge.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 13 C 859 -- Charles P. Kocoras, Judge.

Yaroslav S. Sklyarsky, Plaintiff - Appellant (13-3302), Pro se, Chicago, IL.

For Means-Knaus Partners, Defendant - Appellee (13-3302): Robert Eliot Shapiro, Esq., Attorney, Barack, Ferrazzano, Kirschbaum & Nagelberg Llp, Chicago, IL.

Yaroslav S. Sklyarsky, Plaintiff - Appellant (14-2768), Pro se, Chicago, IL.

For Harvard Maintenance, Inc., Defendant - Appellee (14-2768): Perry Stuart Heidecker I, Attorney, Milman Labuda Law Group Pllc, Lake Success, NY; Emily Louise Peel, Attorney, Thompson Coburn Llp, Chicago, IL.

Before BAUER, ROVNER, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 894

Rovner, Circuit Judge.

For thirteen years Yaroslav Sklyarsky worked as a custodian at a Chicago office building. His employer changed several times during that period, and in April 2010 he began working for Harvard Maintenance when that company was awarded the building's contract for janitorial services. Almost immediately Harvard supervisors began disciplining Sklyarsky. He complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) that Harvard was treating him unfairly because of his Ukrainian national origin. Sklyarsky was fired in January 2013, and after exhausting his administrative remedies, he filed a pro se lawsuit against Harvard alleging discrimination and retaliation. See 42 U.S.C. § § 1981, 2000e-2, e-3, e-5(f).[1] During discovery Sklyarsky concluded that the building's management company, Means-Knaus Partners, had been involved in Harvard's discriminatory conduct, and he sought leave to join Means-Knaus as a defendant. Judge Kocoras, who presided over the suit against Harvard, denied that motion, telling Sklyarsky that Means-Knaus had " nothing to do with the employment contract" and that, if he wanted to sue MeansKnaus, he would have to file a separate action. Sklyarsky did that. Judge Gottschall, who was assigned to the new suit against Means-Knaus, screened Sklyarsky's pro se complaint and dismissed the action sua sponte. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); Rowe v. Shake, 196 F.3d 778, 783 (7th Cir. 1999). She reasoned that, because Sklyarsky was suing Harvard, the doctrine of claim preclusion foreclosed a separate suit against Means-Knaus. Judge Gottschall did not discuss the lack of finality of the Harvard litigation or Judge Kocoras's admonishment that Sklyarsky could sue Means-Knaus only in a separate action. Judge Kocoras would not reconsider after learning about Judge Gottschall's decision, so Sklyarsky appealed the dismissal of his suit against Means-Knaus. While that appeal was being briefed, Harvard and Sklyarsky filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Judge Kocoras decided those motions in favor of Harvard, and Sklyarsky again appealed. We have consolidated

Page 895

his appeals, and we conclude that any procedural ...


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