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Breemen v. Department of Professional Regulation

May 08, 1998

CHARLES VAN BREEMEN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
THE DEPARTMENT OF PROFESSIONAL REGULATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



McLAREN, J. Geiger, P.j., and Rathje, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McLAREN

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 96--MR--868

Honorable Robert E. Byrne, Judge, Presiding.

Plaintiff, Charles Van Breemen, appealed to the circuit court of Du Page County from an order of the Department of Professional Regulation (Department). The circuit court affirmed the Department. Plaintiff now appeals the judgment of the circuit court. We affirm.

In 1993, the Department solicited from plaintiff a brochure advertising his services as an expert witness. Plaintiff returned a letter and a resume detailing his education and work experience. In 1996, plaintiff received a rule to show cause from the Department, which stated, in part:

"Pursuant to the Illinois Professional Engineering Act, 225 ILCS 325/25, a Rule does hereby issue to Charles VanBreeman [sic] to show cause why the Department should not issue an Order to Cease and Desist for unlicensed practice of Professional Engineering by offering and practicing professional engineering, as shown by the attached resume and letter, in violation of 225 ILCS 325/39 and 40."

Plaintiff submitted an answer to the rule to show cause, denying that he had engaged in the unlicensed practice of professional engineering, raising several constitutional arguments, and requesting discovery. No discovery was ordered and no hearing was held. Approximately one month later, the Department issued an order in which the Department found that plaintiff had failed to answer the rule to show cause to the Department's satisfaction and that plaintiff was engaged in the unlicensed practice of professional engineering in violation of sections 39 and 40 of the Professional Engineering Practice Act of 1989 (225 ILCS 325/39, 40 (West 1992)) (the Act). The Department then ordered plaintiff to cease and desist from engaging in the practice of engineering until he was properly licensed.

Plaintiff then brought a complaint for judicial review of the Department's decision in the circuit court of Du Page County, seeking a determination from the court that the Department's order was void and a vacation of the void order. The circuit court, after a hearing, affirmed the Department. This appeal followed.

Plaintiff first contends that the Department failed to make legally required findings. According to plaintiff, the Department's order is totally conclusory and not supported by factual findings. We disagree.

Section 25(c) of the Act provides in part that any rule to show cause issuing under the Act "shall clearly set forth the grounds relied upon by the Department." See 225 ILCS 325/25(c) (West 1992). The findings and Conclusions of an administrative agency on questions of fact are to be held to be prima facie true and correct (735 ILCS 5/3--110 (West 1996)) and must be specific enough to enable courts to review the decision intelligently. See Allied Delivery System, Inc. v. Illinois Commerce Comm'n, 93 Ill. App. 3d 656, 664 (1981).

The Department's order found that plaintiff was not licensed to practice as a professional engineer in the state of Illinois and that he was "engaged in the practice of professional engineering in the State of Illinois by offering and practicing professional engineering, as shown by the resume and letter" sent by plaintiff to the Department. We conclude that the findings are adequate. The order clearly states that the Department relied upon the resume and letter sent by plaintiff as the basis for its decision and that the resume and letter held plaintiff out as a professional engineer. The Department's order contained the necessary factual findings.

Plaintiff next contends that he did not represent himself to be a licensed professional engineer. Plaintiff argues that his resume misrepresents nothing and truthfully states his education, qualifications and job titles.

Plaintiff misses the point of both the Act and the Department's cease and desist order. He need not misrepresent his qualifications and experience in order to violate the Act. He merely has to practice, offer to practice, or attempt to practice professional engineering without a license. See 225 ILCS 325/39(b)(4) (West 1992). Professional engineering is "the application of science to the design of engineering systems and facilities using the knowledge, skills, ability and professional judgment developed through professional engineering education, training and experience." 225 ILCS 325/4(n) (West 1992). A person is construed to be practicing or offering to practice professional engineering if, among other things, he holds himself out as able to perform any service that is recognized as professional engineering practice. See 225 ILCS 325/4(o) (West 1992). Among the many examples of the practice of professional engineering provided in the statute is forensic engineering. See 225 ILCS 325/4(o) (West 1992).

Here, plaintiff's cover letter cites his experience in engineering, including design, product development, failure analysis, and investigative procedure, and boasts of his involvement in a case in which he determined the cause of the failure of a truck seat. Plaintiff's resume reiterates much of this, lists his educational exploits and employment history, and accentuates his forensic work and industrial failure investigations. In these two documents, plaintiff clearly holds himself out as able to perform many services recognized as professional engineering practices, especially forensic engineering. We conclude that the Department did ...


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