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06/29/87 James Vitkauskas, v. State Farm Mutual

June 29, 1987

JAMES VITKAUSKAS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT

509 N.E.2d 1385, 157 Ill. App. 3d 317, 109 Ill. Dec. 373 1987.IL.931

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Will County; the Hon. Edwin B. Grabiec, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE SCOTT delivered the opinion of the court. BARRY, P.J., and WOMBACHER, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE SCOTT

James Vitkauskas, plaintiff, filed a multicount complaint in which he sought damages against the defendant, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. Counts I and II were predicated upon causes of action for breach of contract and wilful breach of contract. Counts III and IV attempted to allege a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of the Illinois Franchise Disclosure Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 121 1/2, par. 701 et seq.). The trial court denied plaintiff's motion for leave to file a count V alleging a breach of contract and wrongful discharge action predicated upon the same substantive allegations set forth in count I. The trial court ultimately dismissed the entire complaint with prejudice.

Accepting the well-pleaded facts alleged by the plaintiff, he began in 1978 to prepare himself to become an insurance agent for the defendant. He returned to college in 1978 and acquired a degree in 1982.

In count I of his complaint plaintiff specifically alleged as follows:

"On or about August 1, 1982, the Defendant, through its duly authorized agent, and the Plaintiff orally agreed that in consideration of the Plaintiff receiving 500 accounts, and in further consideration of the Plaintiff receiving adequate training, instruction and assistance in the procuring of additional insurance business, that the parties would enter into a written agreement, a true and correct copy of which is attached hereto, marked as Exhibit A and by reference incorporated herein."

The plaintiff in count I alleged that the defendant breached the oral and written agreements in the following manner:

"a. Failed to provide the Plaintiff with 500 accounts;

b. Failed to provide the Plaintiff with adequate training and/or assistance in the procuring of insurance business;

c. Required Plaintiff to obtain more monthly applications than other trainees; which number was unreasonable by reason of the failure to provide an adequate number of accounts, training or assistance;

d. Failed to inform Plaintiff that he was being placed under the supervision of a district manager who was under scrutiny and investigation of an unusually high amount of losses, thereby jeopardizing the Plaintiff's employment; and

e. Failed to inform Plaintiff that notification of any breach as aforesaid to the management of the State Farm could result in the termination of his employment."

The plaintiff and defendant did enter into a written agreement on or about August 1, 1982, entitled "The State Farm Agency Building Plan Agreement." The defendant further provided to the plaintiff further printed material referred to as an outline designed to assist a trainee agent in understanding the provisions of the underlying building plan agreement. Reference to the provisions of the building plan agreement and the explanatory outline given to the plaintiff will be set forth as they become pertinent to the delineation of the issues raised by this appeal.

On June 22, 1983, the defendant notified the plaintiff that pursuant to termination provisions in the building plan agreement his relationship with the defendant company would terminate on June 30, 1983.

Count II of plaintiff's complaint alleged that defendant's alleged breaches of contract were committed wilfully and that he was entitled to damages. Count V, which the trial court would not permit to be filed, omitted any reference to oral agreements and alleged a breach of contract resulting in a wrongful discharge action, premised on some factual allegations as contained in count I.

In this appeal it is the contention of the plaintiff that the trial court's action in regard to all of counts I through V was improper. The trial court's rulings as to counts I, II and V are interrelated and will be addressed in conjunction with each other. In support of his assertion that the trial court acted incorrectly as to these counts, plaintiff argues that his employment contract, which we refer to as the building plan agreement, provided for a minimum employment period of 24 months.

Our examination of the building plan agreement fails to provide any contractual terms supportive of plaintiff's argument. On the contrary, we note that section XII, A of the building plan agreement specifically provides:

"Either party may terminate this Agreement by written notice delivered to the other or mailed to the ...


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