Breuder vs. College of DuPage motions yield split results
Dissent, dismissal and partial denial delineated the latest judicial response to a dispute between Robert Breuder and the College of DuPage when a Federal Court issued its ruling March 1, Edgar County Watchdogs divulged recently.
Breuder, who was terminated as the college’s president Oct. 20, 2015, initially filed a civil case against the institution the following day, alleging tortious interference regarding his contract and enumerating six counts. He named as defendants the College of DuPage board as a group, as well as four individuals serving on the board, according to court documents — Kathy Hamilton, Deanne Mazzochi, Frank Napolitano and Charles Bernstein.
Counts I and II related to due process, property and liberty and Count III asserted the presence of conspiracy. Count IV claimed breach of contract and Count V alleged tortious interference regarding Breuder’s contract, while Count VI involved defamation.
The four individual defendants submitted a motion via their respective attorneys to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division on Jan. 11 to dismiss the charges based on their assertion that “Counts I, II, III, V, and VI fail to state claims on which relief may be granted,” documents stated.
The group contested Count I specifically for the reason that the plaintiff “has no contractual property interest because his employment contract was void for multiple reasons, and Board policies did not create any extracontractual property interest.”
The defendants also maintained that Counts I and II failed to state due process claims correctly, stating that the plaintiff refused it, court papers said.
The four parties included in their motion for dismissal that in Count II, Breuder neglected to properly frame his claim of due process in that he failed to include a claim of defamation, arguing that alleged defamatory statements against Breuder are protected by the First Amendment, as well as additional (unspecified) immunities, according to court filings.
Lastly, the group disputed Count IV based on their avowal that “no valid contract exists,” documents stated.
Judge Andrea Wood ruled to deny counts I, II and IV completely; to dismiss counts V and VI with prejudice; to partially deny the official individual motion to dismiss. Count III was also dismissed with prejudice based on individual defendants’ roles, Edgar County Watchdogs reported via Illinois Leaks.
Wood released her decision this month, with filed court documents stating in part: “Plaintiff's claim for tortious interference with contract (Count V) is dismissed with prejudice. Plaintiffs claim for defamation stemming from statements made by Individual Defendants at Board meetings (in Count VI) and Plaintiffs conspiracy claim stemming from Individual Defendants involvement in tortious interference with contract and defamation relating to statements made at Board meetings (in Count III) are also dismissed with prejudice.”
The watchdog group observed that while three counts (I, II and IV) filed by the College of DuPage were denied in full, one count — count V — was dismissed with prejudice in its entirety; and only “significant elements” of counts III and IV were rejected, resulting in a partial dismissal for the latter two. The Individual Motion to Dismiss yielded a mixed result as it was partly granted and partly denied.
Wood clarified in her ruling that she considered multiple responses between the defendants and the plaintiff in her decision, including surreplies, noting that the defendants submitted “a substantive response” to a surreply submitted by Breuder. A surreply is an additional reply to a motion filed after the motion has already been fully briefed.
Edgar County Watchdogs principals observed that the dismissal with prejudice of Counts V and VI could potentially undermine Breuder’s position.
“Those particular dismissals weakened Breuder’s negotiating power,” stated Edgar County Watchdogs via Illinois Leaks. “Breuder has basically been given the boot out the door on his claim of tortious interference with his contract, as it was dismissed with prejudice.”
A status hearing will be held at 9 a.m. on March 30, Edgar County Watchdogs said.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division includes Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, La Salle, Lake and Will counties. It convenes in both Chicago and Wheaton.
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