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Meyer v. Hurley

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 14, 1978.

LEONARD A. MEYER, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF PALOS HILLS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

DANIEL HURLEY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RAYMOND K. BERG, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE ROMITI DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The appellant, mayor of Palos Hills, appeals from a determination that the defendant, the police chief of Palos Hills, did not resign his position. We agree with the determination of the trial court (1) that the written letter of resignation was signed before the defendant's appointment and therefore was invalid and (2) that there was no oral resignation.

On December 7, 1977, Leonard A. Meyer, mayor of the city of Palos Hills, filed suit against Daniel Hurley alleging that:

(1) Hurley is a police officer of Palos Hills who until December 6, 1977, was the appointed police chief by virtue of his appointment by the mayor with the approval of the city council;

(2) Hurley on November 26, 1977, verbally informed plaintiff he resigned as police chief, the plaintiff to determine the effective date. A signed but undated written resignation was left in plaintiff's possession and public disclosure was made by both parties;

(3) the plaintiff on December 6, 1977, advised defendant in writing that his resignation was effective at midnight.

(4) Hurley is continuing to hold himself out to be police chief.

At trial, the plaintiff, Leonard A. Meyer, the mayor of Palos Hills testified that during his first term in office he appointed Hurley to be chief of police; the appointment was approved by the city council. On or about the time of the appointment on December 22, 1975, Meyer took a letter of resignation from Hurley. Hurley was not reappointed after Meyer's election to a second term; none of the officials were but all have continued to serve in office.

On November 26, 1977, Hurley and Meyer had a conference; no one else was present. They discussed a problem concerning a particular incident which had occurred earlier in the week and Hurley said that he and his wife felt it was time he (Hurley) got out. He was resigning. He said he would tell Meyer in a few days just how long he would need to stay on.

On November 29, Meyer complained to Hurley that he had been snubbed by some of Hurley's friends. Meyer told Hurley he was going to remove Hurley from his position and that he had the undated resignation in his possession. He said that Hurley could not stay on. Hurley objected to this, feeling it would destroy his possibilities for seeking employment elsewhere.

On December 5, 1977, Meyer sent Hurley a letter accepting his resignation effective as of midnight December 6. On December 6, he appointed Robert Zieler acting police chief.

Hurley testified that he was sworn in as chief of police on December 22, 1975. Prior to that, on December 20, 1975, he signed an undated resignation prepared by Meyer. On November 26, 1977, Meyer showed Hurley the letter and told him Hurley could put a date on it, or he (Meyer) would but, either way, Hurley was leaving. Hurley testified that he reminded Meyer that they had had a "gentleman's agreement" that Hurley would have a period of time in which to find other employment. Meyer said he would stand by it and asked how long he would need. Hurley said about three months but he would let him know the next week.

Hurley further testified that he and Meyer had another conversation in the mayor's office at about 6:30 p.m. on November 29, 1977. Meyer complained that Hurley's friends had snubbed him, and then told Hurley he was dating the resignation that night. Hurley said it was not valid but Meyer responded that it was.

While Hurley did not believe that the resignation was valid, he did tell the newspapers that he had resigned. He told one reporter that he ...


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