The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, United States District Judge
A valid contract must be enforced.
One who breaks a valid contract must honor the result.
In 1992 the United States Judicial Conference, through the
Administrative Office of the United States Courts (the "Conference"),
made a Criminal Justice Act grant of federal money to the State of
Illinois for the Office of the State Appellate Defender (the "Appellate
Defender"). The grant was to be used to provide legal services in federal
death penalty habeas corpus cases.
A 1993 audit concluded that $35,787 of the grant funds had been used
for obligations incurred outside the period of the grant or for purposes
not allowed by the grant. As such, the Conference made a written demand
to the Appellate Defender for $35,787 on December 1, 1993.
On March 20, 1995, the Appellate Defender wrote a letter to the
Conference which stated "we are seeking funding to pay for [the] audit
finding. [We] will keep you advised of the progress". The Appellate
Defender again wrote to the Conference on August 27, 1999, stating that
they have "asked the Illinois Legislature to provide funding to pay" the
On January 31, 2001, the Conference — via the United States
— filed suit against the State of Illinois for repayment of the
Appellate Defender's debt. The Appellate Defender moves to dismiss the
case, arguing that the United States did not file it before the
applicable statute of limitations period expired. Further, the Appellate
Defender argues that the United States is barred from pursuing the debt
because the grant does not expressly allow the government to pursue a
breach of contract claim in court.
In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept well pleaded
allegations of the complaint as true. See Hishon v. King & Spalding,
467 U.S. 69, 104 S.Ct. 2229, 2233, 81 L.Ed.2d 59 (1984); Car Carriers,
Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 745 F.2d 1101, 1104 (7th Cir. 1984), cert.
denied, 470 U.S. 1054, 105 S.Ct. 1758, 84 L.Ed.2d 821 (1985). Although a
complaint is not required to contain a detailed outline of the claim's
basis, it nevertheless must contain either direct or inferential
allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain a
recovery under some viable legal theory. See Car Carriers, 745 F.2d at
1106. Dismissal should not be granted unless it appears beyond doubt that
the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that
would entitle him to relief. See Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78
S.Ct. 99, 101-02, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). Furthermore, the court must accept
as true all well-pled allegations and draw all reasonable inferences in
the plaintiffs favor. See Perkins v. Silverstein, 939 F.2d 463, 466 (7th
A. Statute of Limitations
Title 28 U.S.C. § 2415(a) allows an agency of the United States to
bring an action for money damages based on an express or implied contract
provided it does within six years of the alleged breach. See
28 U.S.C. § 2415(a). However, this six-year statute of limitations is
not absolute. Section 2415(a) provides that a cause of action re-accrues
"in the event of later partial payment or written acknowledgment of
debt". See id.; see also, United States v. Rollinson, 866 F.2d 1463, 1468
(D.C. Cir.), cert. denied 493 U.S. 818, 110 S.Ct. 71, 107 L.Ed.2d 37
(1989) ("where a debtor ...