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Majmudar v. House of Spices (India), Inc.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division

November 22, 2013

SUBHASH MAJMUDAR, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
HOUSE OF SPICES (INDIA), INC., Defendant-Appellee.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, 08 L 004338 Honorable Ronald Bartkowicz, Judge Presiding.

JUSTICE McBRIDE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Palmer and Taylor concurred in the judgment, with opinion.

OPINION

McBRIDE JUSTICE

¶ 1 This appeal arises out of a dispute between plaintiff Subhash Majmudar and defendant House of Spices (India), Inc., after plaintiff's employment with defendant was terminated approximately 15 months into a 5-year employment contract. On appeal, plaintiff's sole contention is that the trial court erred in finding that he was not entitled to relief pursuant to the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (Act) (820 ILCS 115/1 et seq. (West 2006)). We affirm.

¶ 2 Plaintiff filed his original complaint on April 21, 2008, alleging a breach of contract and a claim under the Act. On May 14, 2008, he filed an amended complaint alleging a breach of contract, a claim under the Act, and two claims that were dismissed before trial. The pertinent facts according to the complaint are as follows: on August 27, 2006, plaintiff entered into a contract with Gorhandas L. Soni (G.L. Soni), the president of House of Spices for a fixed five-year term with additional benefits. The contract was reduced to a typed document the following day. According to plaintiff, he fully performed under the contract but his employment with defendant was terminated on December 12, 2007. Plaintiff claimed that defendant breached the contract and, as a result, he was entitled to the $625, 309.75 in salary and benefits he stood to gain from the remainder of the contract. Plaintiff also requested relief pursuant to the Act in the form of $625, 309.75 in compensatory damages, reasonable attorney fees, and the costs of suit.

¶ 3 The handwritten contract is dated August 27, 2006, titled "5 year contract, " and provides:

"This is to certify that G.L. Soni & Subhash Majmudar agreed as under on 8/27/06:
(1)His Base Salary is $111, 000.00
(2)Monthly car coupons will be paid by [House of Spices]
(3)A [increase] [sic] of $10, 000.00 will be paid after 6 months
(4)Annual Bonus will be paid
(5)Yearly Salary increase will be paid" The contract is signed by G.L. Soni and plaintiff. The typed document is substantially the same as the handwritten contract, but specifies that plaintiff was hired as a warehouse coordinator and project manager. The typed document is signed by G.L. Soni.

¶ 4 In its answer, defendant alleged various counterclaims against plaintiff including breach of contract. Defendant further alleged that plaintiff resigned from his position or, alternatively, that defendant had cause to terminate plaintiff's employment.

ΒΆ 5 The only transcripts included from the four-day bench trial in the record on appeal are the transcripts from the parties' closing arguments. Based on these arguments, we gather the following facts. Plaintiff worked for defendant beginning in 1992 until approximately July 2006 when he accepted a job with a competitor, Kohinoor Foods. There was conflicting testimony about who initiated plaintiff's return to defendant, but there was no dispute that about one month later, in August 2006, plaintiff met with G.L. Soni at which time they signed the five-year contract. It was also undisputed that plaintiff's employment with defendant ended in November 2007. Based on these facts, the central issues at trial were whether plaintiff resigned his position with defendant, whether defendant terminated plaintiff's employment, and if defendant terminated plaintiff's employment, whether defendant had cause to do so. Plaintiff argued that his wife received a call from Soni on November 30, 2007, and was told plaintiff had been terminated, effective immediately, and that he did not need to return to work. Defendant argued that plaintiff resigned ...


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