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06/20/89 Samuel M. Sorkin, v. Blackman

June 20, 1989

SAMUEL M. SORKIN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

BLACKMAN, KALLICK & COMPANY, LTD., ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, SECOND DIVISION

540 N.E.2d 999, 184 Ill. App. 3d 873, 133 Ill. Dec. 133 1989.IL.931

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Thomas E. Hoffman, Judge, presiding.

As Amended September 19, 1989.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE EGAN* delivered the opinion of the court. BILANDIC, P.J., and SCARIANO, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE EGAN

This case involves the recurring problem arising from a complaint alleging damages as a result of a tort which the defendant claims is not a tort but an alleged breach of contract. The sole issue concerns the applicability of Moorman Manufacturing Co. v. National Tank Co. (1982), 91 Ill. 2d 69, 435 N.E.2d 443, and the subsequent case of Morrow v. L.A. Goldschmidt Associates, Inc. (1986), 112 Ill. 2d 87, 492 N.E.2d 181.

Since the appeal is from an order dismissing the complaint, the following recitation of facts is based on the allegations of that complaint.

Samuel Sorkin, the plaintiff, is a certified public accountant. The defendant Blackman, Kallick & Company, Ltd. (Blackman), is a public accounting firm with offices in Cook County, Illinois. The individual defendants are some of the partners of Blackman and each allegedly participated in the management decisions for the firm relevant to this lawsuit. Defendant Blackman Kallick Bartelstein is a partnership and public accounting and business consulting firm which maintains an office in and does business in Cook County, Illinois. BKB was formed in October 1986 when Blackman merged with another public accounting firm, Landau and Bartelstein. As a result of the merger, BKB assumed all liabilities of Blackman and thus is its successor in interest.

On July 17, 1984, after meeting with the principals of Blackman, the plaintiff agreed to join the firm in return for a 15% equity partnership to be announced by June 15, 1985, and granted no later than October 15, 1985. The agreement is reflected in an exchange of letters between Sorkin and the defendant Irving L. Blackman.

In reliance on the agreement to grant him an equity interest in the firm, he terminated his position with Coopers & Lybrand, a large accounting firm, at its Columbus, Ohio, office, and moved his family to Chicago. He also told his family, friends, colleagues, business associates and clients that he was going to become an equity partner in the firm. (He does not allege that the defendants told others of their purported promise or that the defendants were aware that the plaintiff had done so.)

The plaintiff began working at Blackman on September 14, 1984, as director of tax services. Although he performed his obligations under the agreement, he was told in June 1985 that Blackman was "changing the deal" and that his partnership would not be announced at that time. He was given a raise by the firm in July, but he was not told whether he would be made a partner on October 1, 1985, as promised. He was not made a partner on October 1, 1985.

In December 1985, Blackman told the plaintiff that it still might make him a partner; and in reliance on this representation, he remained at Blackman through the 1986 tax season. However, in April 1986, immediately after the tax season, Blackman told the plaintiff that it would never grant him an equity partnership, and as a result, the plaintiff left the firm in December of 1986.

On May 22, 1987, the plaintiff filed a five-count complaint against the defendants based on their refusal to make him an equity partner. Count I alleges breach of contract. Count II is brought against the individual defendants for alleged interference with the agreement between him and Blackman. Count IV alleges fraud. Count V seeks recovery from Blackman and BKB for unpaid vacation pay and reimbursement for ...


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