United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
June 7, 2005.
NOUSHIN IZADIFAR, M.D., Plaintiff,
LOYOLA UNIVERSITY, et al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: MILTON SHADUR, Senior District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Dr. Noushin Izadifar has brought suit against Drs. Stephen
Slogoff and Anthony Barbato and her former employer, Loyola
University of Chicago ("Loyola"),*fn1 asserting various
claims stemming from her termination by Loyola in July 2002.
Those claims include discrimination in violation of Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act ("Title VII," 42 U.S.C. § 2000e), defamation
and tortious interference with contract. Loyola has moved for
partial summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 56
as to the Title VII claim, and Loyola and Drs. Slogoff and Barbato have moved for summary judgment as to the defamation and
tortious interference with contract claims.
After receiving the movants' briefs and Dr. Izadifar's
response, this Court orally denied Loyola's motion as to the
Title VII claim on April 28, 2005, but it ordered a reply as to
the other claims. That submission is now in hand, and all parties
have also tendered statements of material fact as called for by
this District Court's LR 56.1.*fn2
Even when the record is viewed in Dr. Izadifar's favor as
required by Rule 56, she has not come forward with enough facts
either established or disputed of a material (that is, outcome
determinative) nature for a reasonable jury to conclude that
she ought to prevail on either her defamation or
tortious-interference-with-contract claims. Hence all three
defendants' motions as to those claims are granted.
Rule 56 Standards
Every Rule 56 movant bears the burden of establishing the
absence of any genuine issue of material fact (Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986)). For that purpose courts
consider the evidentiary record in the light most favorable to
nonmovants and draw all reasonable inferences in their favor
(Lesch v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 282 F.3d 467, 471 (7th Cir.
2002)). But to avoid summary judgment a nonmovant "must produce
more than a scintilla of evidence to support his position" that a
genuine issue of material fact exists (Pugh v. City of Attica,
259 F.3d 619, 625 (7th Cir. 2001)) and "must set forth specific
facts that demonstrate a genuine issue of triable fact" (id.).
Ultimately summary judgment is warranted only if a reasonable
jury could not return a verdict for the nonmovant (Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). What follows is
a summary of the relevant facts, viewed of course in the light
most favorable to nonmovant Dr. Izadifar but within the
limitations created by the extent of her compliance (or
noncompliance) with the strictures of LR 56.1.
Dr. Izadifar was hired as a member of Loyola's faculty in the
Department of Radiation Oncology at the Stritch School of
Medicine on April 1, 2000, entering into a one-year employment
contract that was renewed on June 7, 2002 (L. St. ¶¶ 8, 9; L. Ex.
E). By virtue of her Loyola faculty position, Dr. Izadifar also
entered into a "Provider Employment Agreement" with the
Foundation under which Dr. Izadifar agreed to provide clinical patient care services at the Loyola University Medical Center
("Medical Center") (L. St. ¶ 13; L. Ex. F). On May 28, 2002 that
agreement was also renewed (id.).
Dr. Izadifar provided gynecologic radiation oncology treatment
at Hines V.A. Hospital ("Hines") once a week, using High Dosage
Rate ("HDR") machinery located at Hines (L. St. ¶ 17). Loyola
apparently had an agreement with Hines calling for Loyola
physicians to staff Hines' Radiation Oncology Department, while
Hines provided equipment, nursing personnel and support staff (L.
St. ¶ 15; L. Ex. B at 85-86).*fn3 It was a dispute between
Dr. Izadifar and Hines nurse Trevino that set off the chain of
events leading to Dr. Izadifar's termination from the Loyola
faculty on July 17, 2002.*fn4
On April 17 Hines began using a new HDR machine (L. Ex. B at
90). Dr. Izadifar performed three procedures that day, with
Trevino assisting (D. Ex. B at 95). Those procedures were
apparently completed without incident. But on April 22 Dr.
Izadifar received a call from Dr. Najeeb Mohideen, a physician in Loyola's Department of Radiation Oncology, who told her that
Trevino had submitted a complaint regarding the safety of Dr.
Izadifar's procedures (id. at 97). Trevino had expressed that
the HDR equipment was not being properly decontaminated between
procedures (id. at 97-98). Dr. Izadifar disagreed with
Trevino's complaint and believed her actions to be inappropriate
(id. at 99-102). Dr. Izadifar had previously clashed with
Trevino, considering her to be "insubordinate and problematic"
(id. at 103).
On April 24 Dr. Izadifar went to Hines to perform her regularly
scheduled HDR procedures (L. Ex. B at 119). Once again a dispute
arose between Trevino and Dr. Izadifar, this time after Dr.
Izadifar was told that Trevino had assisted a patient's sister in
filing a complaint against Dr. Izadifar (id. at 126). Dr.
Izadifar asked that Trevino be removed from her remaining
procedures (id. at 127-28). After hearing of that request, and
in Dr. Izadifar's presence, Trevino began to tear apart documents
that belonged in a patient's chart (id. at 130). In response
Dr. Izadifar unsuccessfully attempted to take the documents from
Trevino's hands (L. St. ¶ 20), prompting Trevino to scream "Don't
touch me" repeatedly (L. Ex. B at 134). Trevino then took the
documents and gave them to another Hines employee, who returned
them to Dr. Izadifar (id. at 135). Dr. Izadifar completed
another procedure, assisted by a different nurse, and left Hines without further incident (id.)
On April 26 Dr. Izadifar wrote a memorandum to Dr. Bahman
Emami, chairman of Loyola's Department of Radiation Oncology, who
had not been at Hines on April 24 (L. St. ¶ 26; L. Ex. L). Dr.
Izadifar described the April 17 and 24 incidents, admitting that
she attempted to take documents out of Trevino's hands, but
denying that she touched any part of Trevino's body (id.). In
an April 29 memorandum to Dr. Elaine Adams, Chief of Medical
Services at Hines, Dr. Emami called for disciplinary action
against Trevino, stating that "her malicious intention continues
to undermine the activities of physicians at Loyola" (L. St. ¶
50; L. Ex. O).
After the April 24 incident Dr. Adams met with Dr. Barbara
Temeck, Hines' Chief of Staff (I. Resp. ¶ 23). They agreed that
Dr. Adams would investigate the situation, and on April 26 Dr.
Adams requested a meeting with Dr. Izadifar (L. St. ¶ 27; I. St.
¶ 135). When the two of them met on April 29, Dr. Izadifar again
admitted that she had attempted to take documents from Trevino's
hands but denied touching Trevino (L. St. ¶ 29; I. St. ¶ 135).
Dr. Adams met with Trevino soon after that in May (L. St. ¶
33). Dr. Adams observed that Trevino "felt very threatened by Dr.
Izadifar. [Trevino] felt that she was not allowed to talk to [Dr.
Izadifar], not allowed to speak her mind . . . that her questions
and efforts . . . on behalf of patients were rebuffed by Dr. Izadifar" (I. Resp. ¶ 33). Dr. Adams was also "struck that
despite it [sic] was several weeks after the event . . .
[Trevino] was extremely upset, tearful, shaking, appeared very
frightened of the episode" (L. St. ¶ 34).
Dr. Adams also sought information from other physicians at
Hines. On May 2 she received a written report from Dr. Mohideen
that (1) detailed his involvement in the ongoing dispute as to
the proper sterilization procedures to be employed in HDR
treatments at Hines (L. St. ¶ 35; L. Ex. M) and also (2)
discussed his knowledge of the April 24 incident between Dr.
Izadifar and Trevino (L. St. ¶ 35; L. Ex. M at LUC 0567):
At the end of the day around 4:45 p.m. Kim [Trevino]
paged me to tell me that during the further
interaction between Dr. Izadifar and her. . . . Dr.
Izadifar had moved towards her to [sic] causing her
to cry out "don't touch me" which a number of people
had heard and come [sic] running. She wanted to know
if she should file a complaint. I said that it was
basically up to her and I am in no position to
describe that event as I was not a witness to it or
the subsequent shouting that occurred.
Dr. Adams also met personally with Dr. Mohideen to discuss the
incident (L. St. ¶ 36). And to determine whether other doctors
had problems working with Trevino, Dr. Adams also met with Drs.
Edward Melian and Sarada Reddy, physicians in Loyola's Department
of Radiation Oncology (L. St. ¶ 37).
After completing her investigation, Dr. Adams prepared a
written report, which she sent to Dr. Temeck on June 6 (I. St. ¶
136). That report explained that it contained information gleaned from "multiple individual and group meetings" and that it
focused "on the conflictual relationship between . . . Izadifar
and . . . Trevino" (L. Ex. J). In particular the report outlined
three episodes (id.):
1. Dr. Izadifar's refusal in February to work with a
particular nurse, followed by Trevino's refusal (in
her role as Nurse Coordinator) to remove the nurse
from Dr. Izadifar's procedures;
2. the use of unsterilized equipment during the April
17 HDR treatments; and
3. the April 24 incident.
As to the April 24 incident Dr. Adams' report reads (L. Ex. J):
On 4/24/02, the sister of a patient being treated by
Dr. Izadifar complained about the medical care the
patient was receiving. Ms. Trevino offered to type up
the complaints. An angry interchange occurred when
Dr. Izadifar discovered this. Finally Dr. Izadifar
attempted to take something from Ms. Trevino's hands,
striking her hand. Ms. Trevino reported feeling
threatened and shouted to co-workers. Ms. Trevino
attempted to leave the room, but her exit was blocked
by Dr. Izadifar. Dr. Mohideen, acting
administratively in Dr. Emami's absence had to
In the section entitled "Conclusion and Recommendations," the
report reads (id.):
Dr. Izadifar's physical attack on Ms. Trevino is
unacceptable. Disciplinary action is recommended.
Dr. Adams also forwarded a copy of her report to Dr. Emami
Dr. Emami met with Dr. Slogoff, Dean of Loyola's Stritch School
of Medicine, in early June and told him about the April 24 incident (L. St. ¶ 56). As Dean, Dr. Slogoff participated in
decisions involving faculty salaries, promotions and
terminations, but he did not personally have the authority to
terminate a faculty member (L. St. ¶ 59). Dr. Slogoff requested
that Dr. Emami confirm the occurrence of the incident (L. St. ¶
56; L. Ex. I at 18).
On June 11 Dr. Emami forwarded Dr. Adams' report to Dr. Slogoff
(I. St. ¶ 138). While the accompanying memorandum states
"[e]nclosed you will find [Dr. Adams'] report, as well as the
report of Dr. Mohideen, who has witnessed Dr. Izadifar's latest
incident at Hines VA Hospital" (D. Ex. P), Dr. Slogoff testified
that Dr. Mohideen's report was not in fact attached (L. Ex. I at
45). Dr. Emami's memorandum also requested a meeting among Dr.
Emami, Dr. Slogoff, Director of Faculty and Administrative
Services Donna Halinski ("Halinski") and Dr. Izadifar to
"finalize the discussion and the decision" (L. Ex. P).
After reading Dr. Adams' report, Dr. Slogoff called Dr. Adams
to confirm its allegations (L. St. ¶ 64). Dr. Slogoff had known
Dr. Adams for some time and had great respect for her
professional ability and personal integrity (L. St. ¶ 65). Dr.
Adams assured Dr. Slogoff that her report was accurate (id.).
Dr. Slogoff did not speak with any of the parties involved in the
April 24 incident, nor did he undertake any other independent
investigation of the allegations in Dr. Adams' report (L. St. ¶ 60).
Following his conversation with Dr. Adams, Dr. Slogoff met with
Dr. Barbato, who as Loyola's Vice President for Health Sciences
was his immediate superior (L. St. ¶¶ 66, 78). During that
meeting they agreed that action would have to be taken as to Dr.
Izadifar if the allegations in Dr. Adams' report were true, but
that they would wait for Dr. Emami's recommendation (L. St. ¶
In an apparent change of position from his April 29 memorandum
(in which, it will be remembered, he had recommended to Dr. Adams
that disciplinary action be taken against Trevino, with no
adverse recommendation as to Dr. Izadifar), Dr. Emami recommended
to Dr. Slogoff on July 10 that Dr. Izadifar's faculty appointment
be terminated (L. Ex. R):
Attached is a memo from Dr. Elaine Adams regarding
Dr. Izadifar's recent behavior in the clinic. Of
particular concern to me is an incident involving one
of the nurses resulting in a physical assault. I have
thoroughly investigated this incident and met with
Dr. Adams personally.
Dr. Adams recommends that disciplinary action is in
order. Due to the institution's aversion to hostility
and/or violence in the workplace, I believe it is
appropriate to terminate Dr. Izadifar's appointment
Dr. Slogoff reviewed Dr. Emami's recommendation and considered it
appropriate in light of Dr. Adams' assessment that Dr. Izadifar
had threatened Trevino physically (L. St. ¶¶ 72, 73).
On July 11 Dr. Slogoff wrote this letter to Dr. Barbato (L. Ex. S):
I am enclosing a letter from Dr. Elaine Adams to Dr.
Barbara Temeck and a letter from Dr. Bahman Emami
addressed to me dealing with a specific incident that
occurred at the Hines V.A. Hospital. This behavior is
absolutely unacceptable for one of our faculty
members and I fully support Dr. Emami's
recommendation to immediately terminate Dr.
Izadifar's faculty appointment for cause.
Dr. Emami and Halinski also received copies of that letter (L.
St. ¶ 76). Dr. Barbato reviewed Dr. Adams' report and spoke
personally with her about the incident (L. St. ¶ 85; I. Resp. ¶
85). Dr. Adams, whom Dr. Barbato considered to be a "careful,
thoughtful, sensitive, thorough, detail oriented person with a 20
plus year history of credibility," expressed confidence in the
accuracy of her report (L. St. ¶¶ 86, 87; L. Ex. Q at 19). Other
than speaking with Dr. Adams, Dr. Barbato did nothing else to
verify the contents of her report, nor did he personally speak
with anyone directly involved in the April 24 incident (L. Ex. Q
Dr. Barbato then referred the matter to Loyola's Committee on
Faculty Appointments, which also issued a recommendation that Dr.
Izadifar be terminated (L. St. ¶¶ 80, 81). On July 17, 2002 Dr.
Barbato accordingly sent Dr. Izadifar a termination letter that
read in part (L. Ex. T):
The University's Committee on Faculty Appointments
recently reviewed a recommendation to terminate your
faculty appointment for cause based on grave
misconduct. This recommendation was brought forward
due to a recent incident in which you physically
assaulted a nurse at the Hines VA Hospital. The
Committee on Faculty Appointments recommended to me your immediate termination.
As Vice President for the Health Sciences, it is my
responsibility to inform you that I have accepted the
Committee's recommendation and your faculty
appointment has been terminated effective
immediately. The termination of your faculty
appointment immediately terminates your clinical
privileges as well.
Dr. Slogoff, Medical Center Chief of Staff Dr. Leonard Vertuno
and Foundation President Michael Vivoda ("Vivoda") also received
copies of that letter.
Vivoda in turn sent Dr. Izadifar a letter on July 19 that
terminated her Provider Employment Agreement with Foundation (L.
St. ¶ 92; L. Ex. V) and read in pertinent part (id.):
A faculty appointment in the [Stritch School of
Medicine] and clinical privileges at LUMC are
requirements of you current employment contract with
LUPF. The loss of your faculty appointment and
clinical privileges requires LUPF to hereby terminate
your Provider Employment Agreement, effective
Shortly after Dr. Izadifar then took unsuccessful appeals of her
terminations to Dr. Barbato and to Loyola's Faculty Appeals
Committee (L. St. ¶¶ 101, 103), she filed this lawsuit.
Dr. Izadifar's Complaint Count II asserts defamation claims
against Loyola and Drs. Slogoff and Barbato. Those claims rest on
two communications: Dr. Slogoff's July 11 letter recommending Dr.
Izadifar's termination and Dr. Barbato's July 17 letter
terminating her Loyola Faculty Contract. Dr. Izadifar argues that
the discussion of her April 24 conduct in those letters constitutes defamation per se or per quod or both. To prove
that either of those communications constitutes defamation, Dr.
Izadifar must show (1) a false statement in (2) an unprivileged
publication (3) that has caused damage (although defamation per
se imputes damages without requiring plaintiff to offer evidence
on that score) (Parker v. House O'Lite Corp.,
324 Ill.App.3d 1014, 1020, 756 N.E.2d 286, 291-92 (1st Dist. 2001)).
Because a dispute exists as to the truth of the statements in
both communications about the April 24 incident, the record must
be viewed in Dr. Izadifar's favor. So it is assumed here that
those statements were false that is, that she did not
physically assault Trevino. As for the element of publication, no
one quarrels with the sufficiency of delivery of the letters
themselves. But the publication of admittedly false statements is
not actionable where a privilege applies (Kuwik v. Starmark Star
Mktg. & Admin., Inc., 156 Ill.2d 16, 24, 619 N.E.2d 129, 133
(1993)). And Dr. Izadifar concedes that a qualified privilege
applies to the statements at issue here, for such a privilege is
accorded to statements made by an employer in attempting to
investigate and correct misconduct on behalf of its employees
(Popko v. Cont'l Cas. Co., 355 Ill. App.3d 257, 823 N.E.2d 184,
190 (1st Dist. 2005)).
That however does not end the matter, for even where a
qualified privilege exists "the communication can still be defamatory and actionable if the privilege is abused" (Gibson v.
Philip Morris, Inc., 292 Ill.App.3d 267, 275, 685 N.E.2d 638,
645 (5th Dist. 1997)). To prove such abuse a plaintiff must show
a direct intention to injure her or a reckless disregard of her
rights and of the consequences that could result from the
publication of false information (id.). Importantly, reckless
disregard of a plaintiff's rights can include the failure to
engage in a proper pre-publication investigation of the truth of
a statement (id.).
On that score Dr. Izadifar urges that the investigation by Drs.
Slogoff and Barbato of the truth of the allegation that she
physically assaulted nurse Trevino was so deficient as to
constitute reckless disregard of her rights. To that end she
advances two arguments.
First Dr. Izadifar contends that their investigation was
deficient insofar as they relied on a report that was "plainly
flawed and biased" (I. Mem. 3). She argues that Dr. Adams was not
an independent investigator and implies that Dr. Emami, who she
alleges sexually assaulted and harassed her repeatedly during her
employment at Loyola, heavily influenced Dr. Adams' report. But
even assuming the truth of those claims, Dr. Izadifar brings
forth no facts demonstrating knowledge of, or any reasonable
basis for suspecting, any such bias on the part of Dr. Slogoff or
Dr. Barbato. Indeed, the record reveals the opposite: Both Drs. Slogoff and Barbato considered Dr. Adams to be highly
credible, and neither had any reason to doubt the validity of her
Where a qualified privilege is established, "the plaintiff must
come forward with actual evidence creating an issue of fact" as
to an abuse of that privilege (Vickers v. Abbott Labs.,
308 Ill.App.3d 393, 404, 719 N.E.2d 1101, 1110 (1st Dist. 1999)).
Consequently Dr. Izadifar's own assertions of bias on the part of
Drs. Emami and Adams, when coupled with her unsubstantiated
statements that such bias was obvious to Drs. Slogoff and
Barbato, simply do not suffice.
Second, Dr. Izadifar asserts that the failure by Drs. Slogoff
and Barbato to demand an investigation in conformity with Medical
Center's Medical-Dental Staff Bylaws ("Medical Center Bylaws") is
prima facie evidence of the recklessness of their conduct because
the Medical Center Bylaws provided "essential safeguards" that
their "ad hoc" investigation did not (I. Mem. 13-14). In that
respect, the parties dispute vigorously whether in terminating
Dr. Izadifar's Loyola faculty appointment Drs. Slogoff and
Barbato were required to follow the Medical Center Bylaws, which
govern Medical Center clinical staff. But that disagreement is of
no moment to Dr. Izadifar's defamation claim. For that purpose
the important issue is not whether a defendant's investigation
conformed to a particular policy, but rather "whether defendant's investigation was so deficient that it was
conducted in reckless disregard of plaintiff's rights"
(Vickers, 308 Ill.App.3d at 406, 719 N.E.2d at 1112).
Neither Dr. Slogoff's nor Dr. Barbato's investigation was so
deficient. Both reviewed Dr. Adams' report and personally
discussed its conclusions with Dr. Adams. While a more thorough
investigation was certainly possible, it cannot be said that the
reliance by Drs. Slogoff and Barbato on a report from a respected
physician whose motives they had no reason to question was
improper. There being no other evidence calling into question the
reasonableness of their conduct, Dr. Izadifar has failed to show
that their republication of the information contained in Dr.
Adams' report was an act done in reckless disregard of her
In sum, no genuine issue of material fact exists as to Dr.
Slogoff's or Dr. Barbato's knowledge of the falsity of their
statements, or as to the reasonableness of their investigation
into the truth of those statements. That being so, their
communications are privileged and Drs. Slogoff and Barbato and
Loyola are entitled to judgment as a matter of law as to Dr.
Izadifar's defamation claims.
Tortious Interference with Contract
Dr. Izadifar's Complaint Count III asserts a claim of tortious
interference with contract. That claim is essentially premised on the same communications underlying the defamation
claim: Dr. Slogoff's July 11 letter and Dr. Barbato's July 17
letter. Dr. Izadifar claims that those communications constituted
tortious interference with her Loyola employment contract and
with her Provider Employment Agreement with Foundation.
Under Illinois law, any such tort claim requires a plaintiff to
establish: "(1) the existence of a valid and enforceable contract
between the plaintiff and a third party; (2) defendant's
awareness of the contract; (3) defendant's intentional and
unjustified inducement of a breach; (4) defendant's wrongful
conduct caused a subsequent breach of the contract by a third
party; and (5) damages" (Purmal v. Robert N. Wadington &
Assocs., 354 Ill.App.3d 715, 727, 820 N.E.2d 86, 98 (1st Dist.
2004)). Dr. Izadifar fails those requirements as to both her
Loyola Faculty Contract and her Provider Employment Agreement
Dr. Izadifar first asserts that Drs. Slogoff and Barbato made
false statements to induce Loyola to breach her employment
contract.*fn5 But Illinois law affords a conditional
privilege to those who would interfere with a contract when they "act to
protect a conflicting interest which is considered to be of equal
or greater value than that accorded the contractual rights
involved" (Langer v. Becker, 175 Ill.App.3d 745, 750,
531 N.E.2d 830, 833 (1st Dist. 1988)). In that respect "an employee
acting in the interest of his employer is privileged to interfere
with a contract between his employer and a co-employee" (id.)
That privilege may be overcome only upon a plaintiff's showing of
actual malice (id., 175 Ill.App.3d at 751,
531 N.E.2d at 833-34), for which purpose "more than ill will must be shown. The
evidence must establish that defendant had acted with a desire to
harm which was unrelated to the interest he was presumably
seeking to protect by bringing about the breach" (Phillip I.
Mappa Interests, Ltd. v. Kendle, 196 Ill.App.3d 703, 708,
554 N.E.2d 1008, 1012 (1st Dist. 1990)).
Even then if it were to be assumed that Dr. Slogoff's and Dr.
Barbato's statements were false and that Dr. Izadifar can satisfy
the remaining elements of the tortious interference with contract
claim, Dr. Slogoff's and Dr. Barbato's actions were clearly
privileged. While Dr. Izadifar's Complaint has alleged that the
statements by Drs. Slogoff and Barbato "were not made in
furtherance of any interest of [Loyola]," mere allegations do not
rise to the required level of proof (or even of inference) and
she offers no alternative explanation for their actions, nor does the record disclose any. Clearly Drs. Slogoff and Barbato acted
in the interest of Loyola in recommending and effectuating the
termination of a faculty member who they believed had engaged in
grave misconduct. And Dr. Izadifar admits that she has no
evidence of any improper motive on Dr. Slogoff's or Dr. Barbato's
part (I. Resp. ¶¶ 77, 93). Hence Dr. Izadifar cannot overcome the
privilege afforded their conduct, and her claim that they
tortiously interfered with her Loyola employment contract
therefore fails as a matter of law.
Dr. Izadifar also advances the same category of claim of
tortious interference with her Provider Employment Agreement with
Foundation. Here it will be remembered that Foundation terminated
its contract with Dr. Izadifar two days after receiving a copy of
Dr. Barbato's July 17 termination letter. There is a question
whether Foundation's termination of the Provider Employment
Agreement in accordance with its Paragraph 6.1(g) (L. Ex.
F)*fn6 constitutes a "breach" (the fourth element of the
asserted claim). But that apart, Dr. Izadifar cannot establish
the third element that Dr. Slogoff, Dr. Barbato or Loyola
intentionally and unjustifiably induced any such breach in any event.
Inducement, in the context of a claim for tortious interference
with contract, "requires some active persuasion, encouragement,
or inciting that goes beyond merely providing information in a
passive way" (In re Estate of Albergo, 275 Ill.App.3d 439, 446,
656 N.E.2d 97, 103 (2d Dist. 1995)). And as the Restatement
(Second) of Torts § 772(a) teaches, one does not interfere
improperly with another's contractual relations merely by giving
a third party truthful information a principle echoed in
Illinois law (George A. Fuller Co. v. Chicago Coll. of
Osteopathic Med., 719 F.2d 1326, 1332 (7th Cir. 1983)).
Dr. Izadifar complains that "false statements" by Dr. Slogoff,
Dr. Barbato and Loyola induced Foundation to breach its contract
with her. But as Vivoda's July 19 letter makes plain, Foundation
terminated the Provider Employment Agreement not because it
believed Dr. Izadifar had physically assaulted Trevino, but
instead because the terms of that agreement required Dr. Izadifar
to maintain her faculty appointment at Loyola.
Thus Dr. Barbato did not actively induce Foundation to
terminate an agreement that would have remained intact absent his
July 17 letter. Instead he simply notified Foundation of the
status of Loyola's contractual relationship with Dr. Izadifar,
thus providing information to which Foundation was entitled in
any event. That does not constitute improper inducement. And because Dr. Izadifar has adduced no other evidence to establish
interference with Foundation's Provider Employment Agreement on
the part of Dr. Slogoff, Dr. Barbato or Loyola, her tortious
interference with contract claim fails in that respect as well.
Dr. Izadifar has not carried any of her burdens of showing a
genuine issue of material fact. Dr. Slogoff, Dr. Barbato and
Loyola are thus entitled to a judgment as a matter of law as to
both her defamation and her tortious interference with contract
Each movant's motion for summary judgment as to those claims is
therefore granted. This Court defers any potential ruling as to
whether a Rule 54(b) determination should be made as to those
claims, at least as to Drs. Slogoff and Barbato. This case is set
for a status hearing at 9 a.m. June 17, 2005, at which time the
parties will be expected to address both that question and the
procedure and timing for going forward on Izadifar's surviving
Title VII claim.