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WEYENT v. VERTICAL NETWORKS

February 9, 2004.

PETER E. WEYENT, Plaintiff
v.
VERTICAL NETWORKS, INC., a California corporation; and ALAN ERASER, a California resident, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff, Peter E. Weyent, filed suit against Defendants, Vertical Networks, Inc. ("Vertical Networks") and Alan Fraser, in connection with a breach of an employment contract. Now before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Counts III-VII of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons that follow, that motion is denied.

LEGAL STANDARD

  In reviewing a motion to dismiss, the court reviews all facts alleged in the complaint and any reasonable inferences drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Marshall-Mosby v. Corporate Receivables, Inc., 205 F.3d 323, 326 (7th Cir. 2000). A plaintiff is not required to plead the facts or elements of a claim, with the exceptions found in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9. See Swierkiewicz v. Sorema, 534 U.S. 506, 511 (2002); Walker v. Thompson, 288 F.3d 1005, 1007 (7th Cir. 2002). Dismissal is warranted only if "it appears beyond a doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would Page 2 entitle him to relief," Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). The "suit should not be dismissed if it is possible to hypothesize facts, consistent with the complaint, that would make out a claim." Graehling v. Village of Lombard, III., 58 F.3d 295, 297 (7th Cir. 1995).

  BACKGROUND

  The facts, for the purposes of this motion, are taken as true from Weyent's Amended Complaint. The facts, for the purposes of this motion, are as follows. Vertical Networks is a California corporation with its principal place of business in California. At all times relevant to this action, Fraser was the President and Chief Executive Officer of Vertical Networks.

  From March 1, 1999, until December 31, 2002, Weyent was employed by Vertical Networks as a Regional Enterprise Manager. Weyent and Vertical Networks entered into and executed two employment contracts, which are at issue in this action.

  For each year of Weyent's employment, Vertical Networks prepared a Sales Compensation Plan (the "Plan" or "Plans") for members of its sales team. The Plans are a series of written documents that were formally executed by a Vertical Networks representative and Weyent. The Plans provided for a certain amount of additional compensation if Weyent reached applicable revenue targets.

  In 2001, Weyent secured a purchase order from an Illinois-based company, Household Finance Corporation. Pursuant to the terms of the 2001 Plan, Weyent was eligible to receive increased compensation; but he was not paid the full amount due under the 2001 Plan. In 2002, Weyent secured another purchase order from Household Finance Corporation. Pursuant to the terms of the 2002 Plan, Weyent was eligible to receive increased compensation; but he was not paid the full amount due under the 2002 Plan. Page 3

  ANALYSIS

  Vertical Networks seeks to dismiss Count III, IV, and V of Weyent's Amended Complaint. Both Vertical Networks and Fraser seek to dismiss Count VI of Weyent's Amended Complaint. Finally, Fraser seeks to dismiss Count VII of Weyent's Amended Complaint.

  Quantum Meruit and Unjust Enrichment Claims

  Vertical Networks contends that Weyent is unable to state a claim for Count III and IV, his quantum meruit and unjust enrichment Claims. According to Vertical Networks, Illinois law prohibits parties from bringing both a breach of contract claim and a quasi-contract claim, such as a claim for unjust enrichment.

  Under Illinois law, a party cannot "state a claim for unjust enrichment when a contract governs the relationship between the parties." Lilly v. Ford Motor Co., No. 00 C 7372, 2002 WL 84603, at *6 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 22, 2002) (Lilly) (quoting First Commodity Traders, Inc. v. Heinold Commodities, Inc., 766 F.2d 1007, 1011 (7th Cir. 1985)). In Lilly, however, both the contract claim and the quasi-contract were allowed to be pled because a good faith ...


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