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11/27/96 GARY LEE v. LARRY SNYDER

November 27, 1996

GARY LEE, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS PARENT AND NEXT FRIEND OF RICKY LEE, A MINOR, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
LARRY SNYDER, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS PRESIDENT OF TEAM ILLINOIS; TEAM ILLINOIS, UPON INFORMATION AND BELIEF AN ILLINOIS NOT-FOR-PROFIT ASSOCIATION; AMATEUR HOCKEY ASSOCIATION OF ILLINOIS INC., UPON INFORMATION AND BELIEF AN ILLINOIS NOT-FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION; AND WINNETKA HOCKEY CLUB, UPON INFORMATION AND BELIEF AN ILLINOIS NOT-FOR-PROFIT ASSOCIATION, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 94-CH-8201. Honorable Michael B. Getty, Judge Presiding.

Released for Publication January 15, 1997.

The Honorable Justice Cahill delivered the opinion of the court: Hoffman, P.j., And Theis, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cahill

JUSTICE CAHILL delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiff Gary Lee, individually and as parent of 12 year old Ricky Lee, sued the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois (AHAI) to rescind a contract, for a temporary restraining order, and for other injunctive relief. Among other rulings, the trial court found the contract had not been accepted and granted a permanent injunction in favor of the plaintiff. Defendants appeal. We reverse.

AHAI is a voluntary association which regulates amateur youth hockey in Illinois among those who choose to join its ranks. AHAI is governed by by-laws enforced by AHAI's board of directors.

AHAI created Team Illinois as a new AAA hockey team. AAA teams are at the highest skill level among AHAI teams, with the most skilled players. Some AHAI rules apply only to AAA teams, including Team Illinois. They require AAA players and their parents to sign agreements called "players cards." The players cards require an exclusive commitment. The card reads in part:

"You and your parents should be aware that the signing of this form immediately and permanently binds you to this team for the entire upcoming season and you may not play with another team with the exception of: (1) Your High School Team, (2) a registered Junior 'C' team (3) a registered House League Team."

Ricky Lee, with his parents approval, signed a player card on July 8, 1994, to play for Team Illinois. He was named to the team roster on August 1, 1994. In mid August, Ricky asked the coach of Team Illinois to be released from the team. Plaintiff claims the request for release was based upon misrepresentations made to him about the commitments required of Ricky to play for Team Illinois. Plaintiff learned that a request to be released from Team Illinois must be made to the AHAI open committee.

On August 29, 1994, Ricky and his parents filed a grievance under the AHAI by-laws with AHAI's open committee. They asked that Ricky be removed from the Team Illinois roster. The grievance alleged that: (1) the location of Team Illinois practices and schedules created conflicts for Ricky; (2) the Team's status would preclude playing better teams in the Michigan National Hockey League and in Canada; (3) Saturday night games would interfere with Ricky's social activities; (4) the first out-of-state tournament conflicted with a personal commitment Ricky had made; and (5) Ricky's school work precluded him from participating at the AAA level.

In a letter dated August 30, 1994, the Open Committee recommended that Ricky fulfill his obligation to Team Illinois. The committee ruled: (1) Ricky and his parents were provided with enough information between the try outs in April and the signing of the player card in July to make an informed decision about signing the card; (2) they had time to reconsider the commitment between July 8, 1994, and August 1, 1994, when Ricky was placed on the roster; and (3) the request to remove was filed on August 29, 1994, 28 days after Ricky was placed on the roster.

Ricky and his parents appealed to the AHAI board of directors. A hearing was held on September 6, 1994. Testimony was presented by AHAI, Gary Lee, and Hillary Lee. The Lees alleged that material misrepresentations made by Robert Ross, a recruiter for AHAI, had induced them to sign the player card and they would not have signed the card had they known the representations were untrue. The board, after reviewing the evidence and hearing arguments from the parties, concluded that the Lees had not been misinformed and refused to release Ricky from the team.

Plaintiff then filed a petition in the circuit court for a temporary restraining order and sought rescission and other injunctive relief. The complaint alleged that Ricky signed the player card based on material misrepresentations and that the player card was unenforceable because it had not been signed by a Team Illinois representative.

The court entered a temporary restraining order which read: "(1) Defendant Winnetka Hockey Club to allow Ricky to try out [for] teams in its organization and to skate with the club pending further order of court; (2) defendant AHAI is enjoined from taking ...


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