Inmate’s Suit Dismissed Under Res Judicata

December 4, 2018

The Honorable Richard Mills in the Central District of Illinois dismissed a federal civil rights lawsuit in favor of the Chief of Corrections, the Sheriff, and the County of the Kankakee in Shehadeh v. Downey, et al. Case No. 18-cv-3165 (C.D. Ill. October 22, 2018). Plaintiff, Jamal Shehadeh, a prisoner in federal custody, alleged that he was retaliated against by Macon County Sheriff’s Department, the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Department, the U.S. Marshals Service in that he was transferred from the jails for filing grievances, lawsuits, and FOIA requests. Additionally, he alleged that the Kankakee County defendants retaliated against him by revealing protected health information in other litigation, and by failing to respond to grievances and FOIA requests.

The Kankakee County Defendants immediately moved to dismiss Shehadeh’s claims on the basis of res judicata. Shehadeh had previously filed two other lawsuits against the County, the Sheriff, the Chief of Corrections, and the County’s lawyers. In both lawsuits, due to Shehadeh’s incarcerated status, he was subject to the merit review procedures of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Shehadeh’s prior state court complaints alleged a failure to respond to FOIA requests, the medical records issue, and specifically alleged that the conduct by the Kankakee County defendants was designed to chill his First Amendment rights. Both prior cases against the Kankakee County Defendants had been dismissed with prejudice by the Kankakee County Circuit Court. Judge Mills took into account the state court documents attached to the Kankakee County Defendants’ motion to dismiss when he determined that, because Plaintiff could have brought his current cause of action in those cases, Plaintiff was barred by the doctrine of res judicata, and dismissed Shehadeh’s claims against all of the Defendants.  The Court dismissed the action on merit review rather than granting the Kankakee County Defendants’ motion. The Defendants were represented by Michael Condon and Tony Fioretti.

Shehadeh v. Downey

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