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02/16/89 Gail S. Werblood, v. Columbia College of

February 16, 1989

GAIL S. WERBLOOD, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

COLUMBIA COLLEGE OF CHICAGO ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FOURTH DIVISION

536 N.E.2d 750, 180 Ill. App. 3d 967, 129 Ill. Dec. 700 1989.IL.190

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Myron T. Gomberg, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE McMORROW delivered the opinion of the court. LINN and JOHNSON, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCMORROW

Gail S. Werblood (Werblood) appeals from trial court orders dismissing certain counts of her complaint against Columbia College of Chicago (Columbia College), the Board of Trustees of Columbia College, President Mirron Alexandroff of Columbia College (President Alexandroff), and Dean Lya Dym Rosenblum of Columbia College (Dean Rosenblum), for failure to state claims for which relief could be granted (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 110, par. 2-615(a)) and finding no just reason to delay enforcement of or appeal from this Disposition (107 Ill. 2d R. 304(a)). The trial court dismissed counts of the complaint sounding in intentional interference with prospective economic advantage and negligent administration of college bylaws on the ground that these counts improperly sought damages for economic loss barred by Moorman Manufacturing Co. v. National Tank Co. (1982), 91 Ill. 2d 69, 435 N.E.2d 443, and Anderson Electric, Inc. v. Ledbetter Erection Corp. (1986), 115 Ill. 2d 146, 503 N.E.2d 246. The trial court also dismissed a count alleging fraud against President Alexandroff on the premise that it failed to state sufficient facts regarding his authorization of fraud allegedly committed by Dean Rosenblum against Werblood.

We conclude that the count in Werblood's complaint alleging negligent administration of college bylaws was properly found to be precluded by the economic loss doctrine of Moorman and Anderson Electric. We further determine that the counts in the complaint alleging intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, although not barred by the economic loss doctrine, were nevertheless properly dismissed for insufficient factual allegation regarding a reasonable expectancy of future employment at either Columbia College or at another institution of higher education in the Chicago area. We also conclude that the count in the complaint alleging fraud on the part of President Alexandroff was properly dismissed because of insufficient factual allegations regarding President Alexandroff's authorization of Dean Rosenblum's allegedly fraudulent representations to Werblood. Accordingly, we affirm the orders of the trial court.

Background

According to the allegations of Werblood's complaint as ultimately amended, which we accept as true for the purpose of review (see, e.g., Abrams v. Echlin Corp. (1988), 174 Ill. App. 3d 434, 437, 528 N.E.2d 429), Werblood was a faculty member of Columbia College from 1978 to 1985. She had an employment contract with Columbia College for the 1984-85 academic year, and this contract incorporated the rules and policies of Columbia College regarding the engagement, separation, and tenure of faculty members. According to these rules and policies, faculty members were advised by their department chairpersons by March 30 of a given contract year if the faculty member would not be retained for the following academic year; failure to so notify faculty members by the date prescribed caused automatic renewal of the faculty member's employment contract for the following academic year. Dismissal of faculty members during the period of their employment contracts required written notice and a due process hearing.

In March 1985, Werblood was advised by her department chairperson that her performance was "competent," and she was thereafter assigned courses for the 1985-86 academic year. On May 13, 1985, however, Dean Rosenblum informed Werblood that Columbia College was rescinding its contract with her for the upcoming 1985-86 academic year and that her salary and employment benefits would be terminated on June 30, 1985. Werblood received no explanation for the termination, nor a due process hearing, although she requested one.

Werblood filed suit against Columbia College, its Board of Trustees, President Alexandroff, and Dean Rosenblum. As amended, the complaint alleged breach of contract by Columbia College (count I); fraud by President Alexandroff and Dean Rosenblum (count II); intentional interference with Werblood's prospective economic advantage by President Alexandroff and Dean Rosenblum, both individually and as agents of the Board of Trustees, on the premise that the method by which Werblood's employment was terminated "stigmatized" her and would effectively interfere with her ability to find suitable employment in her field at other area institutions of higher education (count III); intentional interference by President Alexandroff and Dean Rosenblum with Werblood's prospective economic advantage, on the ground that termination of Werblood's employment by these defendants deprived Werblood of the opportunity to gain tenure with Columbia College at the end of the 1985-86 academic year (count IV); and negligence on the part of the Board of Trustees of Columbia College for its failure to manage and direct the affairs of Columbia College as required by its bylaws regarding faculty hiring and firing (count V).

Following briefing and argument upon defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state claims for which relief could be granted (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 110, par. 2-615(a)), the trial court dismissed the counts regarding fraud and intentional interference with prospective business advantage, relying upon the economic loss doctrine of Moorman and Anderson Electric. The trial court dismissed the fraud count as it pertained to President Alexandroff on the ground that it failed to allege specific facts to show that he had authorized the fraudulent scheme allegedly undertaken by Dean Rosenblum against Werblood. Thereafter the trial court found no just reason to delay enforcement of or appeal from these rulings. (107 Ill. 2d R. 304(a).) This appeal followed.

Opinion

Werblood argues that the trial court should not have dismissed the fraud count against President Alexandroff for failure to state a claim. In her complaint, Werblood alleged that President Alexandroff committed fraud upon her when he authorized Dean Rosenblum to assure Werblood that her faculty employment with Columbia College would continue from 1985 until at least the spring of 1987, during which time Werblood intended to and did in fact enroll in and pursue studies to secure a Ph.D. at Union Graduate School. Werblood alleged that Dean Rosenblum's representations to her, and President Alexandroff's authorization that Dean Rosenblum make these representations to her, constituted a fraudulent scheme whereby Werblood was encouraged to remain at Columbia College, to pursue graduate studies, and to forego pursuit of other employment opportunities, until President Alexandroff and Dean Rosenblum could select other personnel to replace Werblood. Werblood further alleged that Dean ...


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