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Piper v. Bd. of Trustees

OPINION FILED AUGUST 25, 1981.

NELDA PIPER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT NO. 514, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Tazewell County; the Hon. JAMES D. HEIPLE, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE WEBBER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied September 29, 1981.

This appeal presents a question of pleading only. Plaintiff filed a complaint and two amended complaints in the circuit court of Tazewell County. Each of them alleged in substance that she had been wrongfully discharged by the defendant and sought damages for breach of contract. Each of the complaints was dismissed on motion of the defendant under section 45 of the Civil Practice Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 110, par. 45) for failure to state a cause of action. Our task therefore is to determine whether the second amended complaint sets forth all the essential elements of a cause of action. Williams v. RCA Corp. (1978), 59 Ill. App.3d 229, 376 N.E.2d 37; Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 110, par. 42(2).

• 1 It is elementary that a motion to dismiss under section 45 admits all facts well-pleaded in the complaint. We note at the outset that each of defendant's three motions to dismiss were grounded on form, not on substance. The motions addressed to the original complaint and to the amended complaint were based on sections 43(1) and 33 of the Civil Practice Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 110, pars. 43(1) and 33). These sections concern themselves with the method of stating separate claims. The motion to dismiss the second amended complaint reiterates these sections and adds sections 45(3) and 45(4) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 110, pars. 45(3) and 45(4)) and Supreme Court Rule 133(a) (73 Ill.2d R. 133(a)). These latter sections and rule likewise are concerned with form. We are therefore led to the ineluctable conclusion that all the well-pleaded facts in the second amended complaint are uncontroverted.

Plaintiff's second amended complaint was in four counts. Summarizing count I, we find that plaintiff was employed by defendant originally on October 20, 1969, and at the time of the events complained of July 1979, she was manager of defendant's word processing center. Attached to the original complaint and referred to in the subsequent amended complaints were four exhibits which go to the heart of plaintiff's case. Exhibit "A" is entitled "Administrative and Non-Teaching Professional Personnel Manual" (the Manual) and purports to set forth "a definite statement of the College's personnel and employment regulations and procedures as they apply to the administrative and non-teaching professional staff of Illinois Central College."

Exhibit "B" is entitled "Employee Performance Appraisal" and purports to be her superior's appraisal of plaintiff's performance for the year 1978. The overall evaluation was "average."

Exhibit "C" is a notification of employment from the president of Illinois Central College to plaintiff dated April 17, 1979.

Exhibit "D" is plaintiff's handwritten resignation dated July 18, 1979.

Further allegations from the second amended complaint are that in each of the 10 preceding consecutive years plaintiff had received a similar notification of employment. The notification as set forth in Exhibit "C" is in words and figures in pertinent part as follows:

"April 17, 1979 Date

ILLINOIS CENTRAL COLLEGE NOTIFICATION OF EMPLOYMENT

GRADE LEVEL: 7

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 1979

It is understood that this appointment is subject to the provisions of the Illinois Public Community College Act, to such sections of the School Code of Illinois (as amended) as may apply, and to the bylaws, policies, rules and regulations of the Board of Trustees of Community College District No. 514, the legal governing Board of Illinois Central College, as may from time to time be adopted.

The appointee shall earn vacation at the rate of 15 working days per year.

This agreement is void if not returned to the Personnel Office within ten (10) calendar days from the above date. The copy is for the appointee's file.

ILLINOIS CENTRAL COLLEGE [Signature] Leon H. Perley President

I accept this appointment to the staff of Illinois Central College.

April 24, 1979 [Signature] Date Signature of Appointee."

Additional allegations stated that on July 18, 1979, plaintiff was called to the officer of her supervisor and was told that unless she submitted her resignation, a letter of immediate dismissal would be forthcoming from the president of the college; that she suffered emotional strain and confusion because of such demand and submitted the resignation under duress; that she was never told any reason for such demand; that it was in violation of the provisions of the Manual; that her resignation was accepted effective October 15, 1979; that prior thereto on two occasions she requested reinstatement and a written notice of the cause for her dismissal; and that both requests were denied. Count I concludes by alleging damages for breach of an express contract.

Count II realleges the factual matters of count I and alleges breach of an implied contract of employment until plaintiff's retirement.

Count III realleges the factual matters of count I and alleges a deprivation of procedural due process under the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United ...


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