Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Vorpagel v. Maxell Corp. of America

August 21, 2002

WILLIAM VORPAGEL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MAXELL CORPORATION OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 00-L-676 Honorable John R. Goshgarian, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Byrne

Released for publication August 29, 2002.

WILLIAM VORPAGEL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MAXELL CORPORATION OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 00-L-676 Honorable John R. Goshgarian, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Byrne

PUBLISH

Plaintiff, William Vorpagel, appeals the order of the circuit court dismissing his complaint in which he alleged that defendant, Maxell Corporation of America, discharged him in retaliation for his cooperating in the criminal investigation of a co-employee. Plaintiff contends that the trial court erred in dismissing the complaint because it states a claim for retaliatory discharge even though the co-employee's crime had no connection with plaintiff's work. We reverse and remand.

Plaintiff's first amended complaint, which is at issue here, alleges the following. Defendant employed plaintiff as a warehouse supervisor. Plaintiff had worked for defendant for 17 years without receiving a reprimand of any sort. His immediate supervisor was the warehouse manager, John Maloney.

In 1999, Maloney was charged with various sexual offenses based on his alleged sexual relationship with his minor daughter. At some point, Maloney made incriminating statements to plaintiff. Plaintiff contacted the Lake County State's Attorney's office and reported what Maloney told him. Plaintiff later gave a written statement detailing Maloney's admissions. This statement, along with a supplemental witness list that included plaintiff's name, was tendered to Maloney's attorney in the criminal case. His attorney, in turn, gave the documents to Maloney.

Soon after Maloney received plaintiff's statement, Maloney told plaintiff he did not want him working for him any more. On April 19, 2000, Maloney pleaded guilty to two criminal charges and was sentenced to 48 months' probation, including 36 months' periodic imprisonment.

According to plaintiff's complaint, Maloney began an orchestrated effort to fabricate false allegations of misconduct against plaintiff in order to secure his discharge. Maloney got other employees to sign off on false write-ups and grievance complaints and threatened other employees to sign grievances containing false allegations of misconduct by plaintiff. On May 4, 2000, defendant gave plaintiff a written warning that his job performance was substandard in every area and that he would be terminated in 30 days if he did not improve. On June 9, 2000, Maloney, "acting in his official capacity for Maxell," discharged plaintiff. The complaint alleged that plaintiff's discharge was motivated by his cooperation with the criminal investigation against Maloney and as such violated Illinois's public policy favoring the investigation and prosecution of crime.

The trial court granted defendant's motion to dismiss the amended complaint. The court stated that the complaint did not state a cause of action for retaliatory discharge because it alleged that plaintiff was discharged for reporting nonwork-related conduct and because there was no "nexus" between the protected activity and the discharge. After the court denied his motion to reconsider, plaintiff filed a timely notice of appeal.

Plaintiff contends that his complaint states a cause of action for retaliatory discharge. The complaint alleges that plaintiff was fired in retaliation for engaging in a protected activity: assisting in the prosecution of crime. According to plaintiff, the public policy favoring the investigation and prosecution of crime is the same regardless of whether the crime occurs in the workplace. Thus, plaintiff contends that the trial court erred in distinguishing between work-related and nonwork-related crimes. Plaintiff also contends that his complaint adequately alleges a "nexus" between the protected activity and his firing.

Defendant responds that Illinois's courts have repeatedly cautioned against expanding the tort. Further, no reported case has found a cause of action for retaliatory discharge based ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.