“It is doubtful that estoppel could ever bring a case in which there was no violation of the Constitution into federal court under 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983, the statute under which Atwell sued, which creates a remedy for violations of federal rights under color of state law. Atwell had no federal right, whatever the Park District may have told her. The Park District therefore could not have violated her federal rights. If it misled her into not cooperating with the investigation and then fired her for not cooperating, it might be guilty of fraud or breach of contract under state law … but there would be no federal violation.”
“[W]e are left with the bedrock principle that a reasonable person represented by a lawyer does not rely on the legal advice given him by an adversary, which was the status of the investigator in relation to Atwell, as she well knew. A reasonable person in Atwell’s position consults his or her own lawyer.
Atwell did. The lawyer gave her bad advice. For that she may have a remedy against the lawyer, but she has no remedy against the Park District. Estoppel requires reasonable reliance on the misrepresentation of the party who is sought to be estopped.”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Kocoras, J., Posner, J.