United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
JAMES K. SCHENKE, Plaintiff,
JIM BUSH, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
T. MOODY JUDGE
matter is before the court on defendants' motion to
dismiss. (DE # 8.) For the reasons set forth below, the
motion will be granted.
Schenke, a plaintiff proceeding without an attorney, filed
this lawsuit against a number of defendants associated with
Purdue University, his former employer. (DE # 1.) Schenke
sued: Mitch Daniels, President of Purdue; Trent Klingerman,
Vice President of Human Resources; Julie Rosa, Assistant Vice
President of Public Affairs; Shelley Triol, Assistant Vice
President; Steve Schultz, General Counsel for Purdue; and
Keene Red Elk, Captain of the Purdue University Police.
alleges that the defendants unlawfully restricted his speech
and retaliated against him when he exercised his right to
free speech. He claims that he was wrongfully denied a
promotion, and was disciplined and ultimately terminated, for
speaking out publically in opposition to the City of West
Lafayette's attempts to annex property and for publically
opposing the opening of the U.S. 231 bypass.
have filed a motion to dismiss. (DE # 8.) Schenke did not
respond to the motion and the time to do so has passed. This
matter is now ripe for resolution.
have moved to dismiss plaintiff's claims under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted. A judge reviewing a
complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) must construe the
allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to
the non-moving party, accept all well-pleaded facts as true,
and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
non-movant. United States ex rel. Berkowitz v. Automation
Aids, Inc., 896 F.3d 834, 839 (7th Cir. 2018).
the liberal notice-pleading requirements of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure, the complaint need only contain “a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
“While the federal pleading standard is quite
forgiving, . . . the complaint must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Ray v. City of
Chicago, 629 F.3d 660, 662-63 (7th Cir. 2011); Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A
plaintiff must plead “factual content that allows the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).
this standard, a complaint does not need detailed factual
allegations, but it must go beyond providing “labels
and conclusions” and “be enough to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. As the Seventh Circuit
explained, a complaint must give “enough details about
the subject-matter of the case to present a story that holds
together.” Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d
400, 404 (7th Cir. 2010). Even if the truth of the facts
alleged appears doubtful, and recovery remote or unlikely,
the court cannot dismiss a complaint for failure to state a
claim if, when the facts pleaded are taken as true, a
plaintiff has “nudged their claims across the line from
conceivable to plausible.” Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555, 570.
argue that Schenke's claims are barred by claim
preclusion because at the time he filed this case he was in
the process of litigating the same claims, against many of
the same defendants, in Schenke v. Daniels, No.
4:15-CV-75 (“Daniels”). (DE # 9 at 8.)
In Daniels, Schenke named many of the same
defendants he has sued in this case: Julie Griffith, Mitch
Daniels, Trent Klingerman, Julie Rosa, Brian Zink, and
Shelley Triol (“Purdue defendants”). He alleged
that these defendants violated his First Amendment rights by
restraining his speech and retaliating against him for
speaking out against the City of West Lafayette's
proposed annexation and the opening of the U.S. 231 bypass.
Daniels, No. 4:15-CV-75, DE ## 1, 64. Schenke
claimed that the Purdue defendants violated his rights under
the First Amendment by abridging his right to free speech and
by retaliating against him when he exercised his right to
speak. Id. The Court dismissed defendant Rosa after
Schenke admitted that he did not have an actionable claim
against her. Id. at DE # 88, 2017 WL 4366000 (N.D.
Ind. Sept. 29, 2017). The Court later granted summary
judgment to the remaining Purdue defendants. Id. at
DE # 113, 2019 WL 1245160 (N.D. Ind. Mar. 15, 2019).
preclusive effect of a judgment is defined by claim
preclusion and issue preclusion, which are collectively
referred to as ‘res judicata.'” Taylor v.
Sturgell, 553 U.S. 880, 892 (2008). The purpose of the
doctrine of res judicata is to promote predictability in the
judicial process, to preserve judicial resources, and to
protect litigants from the expense and disruption of repeated
litigation. Bell v. Taylor, 827 F.3d 699, 708 (7th
Cir. 2016). Courts look to federal common law to determine
the preclusive effect of a federal-court judgment.
Taylor, 553 U.S. at 891.
the doctrine of claim preclusion, a final judgment forecloses
‘successive litigation of the very same claim, whether
or not relitigation of the claim raises the same issues as
the earlier suit.'” Id. at 892 (internal
citation omitted). Claim preclusion “bars a claim that
was litigated or could have been litigated in a previous
action when three requirements are met: (1) an identity of
the causes of action; (2) an identity of the parties or their
privies; and (3) a final judgment on the merits.”
Kilburn-Winnie v. Town of Fortville, 891 F.3d 330,
333 (7th Cir. 2018) (internal quotation marks and citation
omitted). “The test for an identity of the causes of
action is whether the claims arise out of the same set of
operative facts or the same transaction.” Id.
Where the nature of the claims, the ...