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11/12/87 J. W. Richard Owens, v. Second Baptist Church of

November 12, 1987

J. W. RICHARD OWENS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

SECOND BAPTIST CHURCH OF LA GRANGE ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FOURTH DIVISION

516 N.E.2d 712, 163 Ill. App. 3d 442, 114 Ill. Dec. 557 1987.IL.1670

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Jack Hoogasian, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE LINN delivered the opinion of the court. McMORROW, P.J., and JIGANTI, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE LINN

Plaintiff, the Reverend J. W. Richard Owens, brought an action in the circuit court of Cook County against defendants, the Second Baptist Church of La Grange and three of its officers. Plaintiff alleged breach of his employment contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Defendants counterclaimed, seeking to evict plaintiff from the parsonage and damages.

The cause was tried to a jury, which returned verdicts in favor of plaintiff on both his claims and defendants' counterclaim and awarded plaintiff damages of $40,000. Defendants appeal, contending that the trial court erred in denying their motion for a directed verdict.

We reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand with directions.

Background

The record shows that the parties originally had filed the complaint and counterclaim separately in the trial court. Upon subsequent stipulation by the parties, however, the trial court consolidated the actions for one joint trial, each action receiving a separate verdict and judgment.

In his second amended complaint, plaintiff named as defendants the church and Willie D. Hayes, chairman of the church's deacon's board; James K. Gilbert, chairman of the trustee's board and the church's financial secretary; and Arthur Hampton, church treasurer. In count I, plaintiff alleged essentially that defendants breached their employment contract by discharging plaintiff against his will. Plaintiff alleged in count II that defendants breached their employment contract by discharging plaintiff without following the church's rules and regulations. In count III, plaintiff alleged a claim against the defendants for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Defendants denied the allegations in the first two counts of the complaint and unsuccessfully moved to dismiss the third count. They alleged in their counterclaim that the church supplied plaintiff with a parsonage as part of his compensation. Defendants further alleged that when the church discharged plaintiff, he was required to vacate the parsonage but failed to do so. Defendants sought $10,000 in damages and an order to evict plaintiff from the parsonage.

The cause proceeded to a jury trial. The record shows that the trial Judge denied defendants' motion for a directed verdict at the close of plaintiff's case and again at the close of the evidence. On September 19, 1986, the jury returned a verdict for plaintiff on his action against defendants and awarded him $40,000 in damages. The jury returned a verdict for plaintiff also on defendants' counterclaim. The ...


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