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AMERICAN NAT. BK. & TR. v. BD. OF REGENTS

November 20, 1984

AMERICAN NATIONAL BANK AND TRUST COMPANY OF CHICAGO, AS TRUSTEE UNDER TRUST AGREEMENT DATED FEBRUARY 9, 1965, AND KNOWN AS TRUST NO. 21314, MORTON J. CRANE, JOSEPH L. KATZ AND RALPH R. MICHELSON, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
BOARD OF REGENTS FOR REGENCY UNIVERSITIES, A BODY CORPORATE AND POLITIC, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Roszkowski, District Judge.

ORDER

Before the court is defendant's motion to dismiss and/or for summary judgment. The court's subject matter jurisdiction is asserted to rest upon 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (1982). For the reasons set forth herein, defendant's motion to dismiss is denied and defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted, in part, and denied, in part.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs are the owners of a private dormitory adjacent to the campus of Northern Illinois University ("University"). Plaintiffs bring this action pursuant to Sections 4 and 16 of the Clayton Act seeking damages and injunctive relief. Plaintiffs allege the implementation of certain University housing policies are in violation of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act.

Defendant, Board of Regents For Regency Universities, a body corporate and politic, is a public entity responsible for the ownership, operation and management of University-owned residence halls. The defendant is also responsible for the promulgation of policies and regulations regarding places of residence on and off campus where students may live.

At issue in the present case is the implementation of a certain parietal rule promulgated by the defendant. The subject rule requires that single, freshmen students under the age of 21 not residing with their parents must reside in one of the University residence halls so long as space remains available.

Plaintiffs do not challenge the defendant's authority to make such parietal rules. (Plaintiffs' Memo. p. 23) Instead, plaintiffs merely challenge certain "temporary housing practices" followed by the defendant in implementing the subject rule.

The challenged temporary housing practices are alleged to include: (1) "the implementation of `temporary' housing, whereby students are housed in non-dormitory rooms indefinitely," and (2) the delaying of "advice to applicants as to whether or when they can be assured a permanent assignment, until so shortly before the commencement of the school year as to preclude plaintiffs from a realistic entry into the market." (Plaintiff's Memo. p. 2) As a result, plaintiffs contend the "[d]efendant has admittedly commenced and pursued a practice of violating its own `parietal' policies by continuing to impose the requirement [that single, freshmen students under the age of 21 must reside in the University residence halls so long as space remains available] when space is not available." (Plaintiffs' Memo. p. 24)

Defendant stresses that its so-called "temporary housing practices" merely present freshmen students with the option of residing in temporary housing until a permanent University residence hall assignment becomes available. The letter directed to incoming freshmen concerning temporary University housing merely provides, "[i]f you do NOT accept this assignment you are free to move off campus. . . ." Defendant contends it offers this option to incoming freshmen because experience has shown "that each year there will inevitably be a number of students for whom University housing has been reserved that will either decide not to attend the University or leave early in the semester." (Defendant's Reply p. 12) Thus, defendant contends it has adopted the challenged housing policy "[i]n order to account for this attrition factor and to provide University housing to all those who desire it. . . ." (Id.)

Defendant has moved to dismiss and/or for summary judgment on three grounds: (1) that plaintiff's claim is barred by laches; (2) that plaintiffs' action for monetary damages is barred under the doctrine of sovereign immunity; and (3) that defendant's actions are "state actions" exempt from federal antitrust laws.

I. Laches

Defendant initially argues that plaintiffs' action is barred under the doctrine of laches.*fn1 Laches bars an equitable action where a party's unexcused or unreasonable delay has prejudiced his adversary. Boone v. Mechanical Specialties, 609 F.2d 956, 958 (9th Cir. 1979). Defendant contends the plaintiffs knew or should have known of its parietal rule prior to commencing the construction of their private dormitory in 1965. In addition to the length of the delay, defendant contends it has been prejudiced by the loss, through resignation, retirement and death, of many of the individuals involved in formulating its housing policies since that time. Thus, defendant contends laches should bar plaintiffs' action.

Defendant's argument mischaracterizes the nature of the plaintiffs' action. Plaintiffs are not challenging the parietal rule requiring that single, freshmen students under the age of 21 not residing with their parents reside in University residence halls so long as space remains available. Instead, plaintiffs are challenging the implementation of that parietal rule through defendant's temporary housing practices. The latter practices were not commenced until the Fall of 1981.*fn2 Thus, in view of the brief passage ...


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