United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
ATC HEALTHCARE SERVICES, INC. Plaintiff,
RCM TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
E. CHANG JUDGE
ATC Healthcare Services, Inc. provided temporary nursing
staffing services to the Chicago Public School District from
2006 until August 2015, when CPS terminated its contract. ATC
has now sued the agency that replaced it, RCM Technologies,
Inc., for intentional interference with prospective economic
advantage, claiming that RCM improperly interfered with the
employment relationship between ATC and the nurses whom it
staffed at CPS schools. R. 51, First Am. Compl. After a period of
discovery, RCM filed a motion for summary judgment. R. 140,
Mot. Summ. J. For the reasons explained below, RCM's
motion is granted.
setting out the facts, the Court views the evidence in the
light most favorable to ATC (the non-movant) and, where
important, also describes the parties' competing factual
contentions. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Before the summer
of 2015, ATC and two other agencies provided nursing services
to schools in the Chicago Public School District. R. 155,
Pl.'s Resp. DSOF ¶ 10; R. 166, Def.'s Resp. PSOF
¶ 1. During the 2014-2015 school year, ATC provided 147
nurses to CPS, for a total of about 2, 800 hours each week.
Def.'s Resp. PSOF ¶ 2. ATC's contract for the
school year was set to expire on June 30, 2016. Def.'s
Resp. PSOF ¶¶ 1, 7; R. 154-2, PSOF Exh. A, ATC-CPS
Contract Renewal at 1.
November 2014, CPS issued a request for proposal (RFP) for
nursing services. Pl.'s Resp. DSOF ¶ 11; R. 154-4,
PSOF Exh. E, Nov. 2014 RFP. The RFP did not specifically
state whether it sought proposals for an exclusive nursing
services provider, or for a more limited contract.
See Def.'s Resp. PSOF ¶ 5 (calling the RFP
a request for “non-exclusive, nurse staffing
services.”); Pl.'s Resp. DSOF ¶ 11. It did
state, however, that CPS might try to bundle as many schools
as possible under the same provider. Def.'s Resp. PSOF
¶ 5; Nov. 2014 RFP at 27 (“It is the intention of
the Board to award these contract(s) in whole or in part or
by item as may be in the best interest of the Board. …
The Board may award multiple sections or all sections of this
request for proposal to a qualified Proposer. It is the
Board's desire to bundle as many zones as possible, where
it is in the Board's best interest.”). Both ATC and
RCM submitted proposals. Pl.'s Resp. DSOF ¶¶
April or May of 2015, RCM learned that the CPS Procurement
Department planned to recommend that the CPS Board grant the
new contract to RCM. Pl.'s Resp. DSOF ¶ 12; see
also Def.'s Resp. PSOF ¶ 16; R. 154-14, PSOF
Exh. K, Hay Dep. Tr. at 60:8-16. The Board approved that
proposal at its meeting on June 24, 2015. Pl.'s Resp.
DSOF ¶ 13; Def.'s Resp. PSOF ¶ 9; R. 154-10,
PSOF Exh. G, CPS Board Action at 4. Both CPS and RCM issued
press releases announcing that the contract was awarded to
RCM. Def.'s Resp. PSOF ¶ 9; R. 154-11, PSOF Exh. H,
Board Press Release; R. 154-12, PSOF Exh. I, RCM Press
Release. RCM's press release stated that it would be the
new “exclusive vendor” of nursing services and
would provide around 170 nurses to staff CPS schools. RCM
Press Release at 1-2. Neither press release, however, stated
exactly when RCM's contract would begin. Def.'s Resp.
PSOF ¶ 10. ATC learned that RCM had been awarded the
contract at some point that same month-June 2015-though ATC
disputes whether it understood that news to mean that
ATC's existing contract would be terminated. Pl.'s
Resp. DSOF ¶ 14. CPS officially terminated ATC's
existing contract almost two months later on August 13, 2015.
R. 154-13, PSOF Exh. J, Termination Letter; Def.'s Resp.
PSOF ¶ 11.
version of events is that RCM knew all along-and long before
ATC- that it would be receiving an exclusive contract, a deal
much bigger than CPS let on in the RFP and beginning sooner
than ATC could have guessed. Def.'s Resp. PSOF
¶¶ 17-19 (“RCM knew for months in advance of
any public announcement they would receive a contract greater
both in time and scope than initially advertised in CPS'
original RFP.”). All public information, ATC argues,
pointed toward RCM's new contract being supplemental to
the existing nursing services that CPS already had in
place-at least until after ATC's contract expired.
Def.'s Resp. PSOF ¶¶ 5-6, 19-20 (“[N]o
publicly available information contradicted ATC's belief
that their contract with CPS expired on July 1, 2016 and that
RCM would provide supplemental staffing services in advance
of their New Contract.”). In contrast, RCM argues that
all the parties knew that the contract being awarded to RCM
was an exclusive one and that RCM would take over all nursing
services for the 2015-2016 school year. See
Def.'s Resp. PSOF ¶¶ 5-6 n.1 (providing a link
to a June 2015 Chicago Reporter article in which Cindy
Weiner, an outside staffing representative hired by ATC,
stated that the ATC contract would be “phased
out” in July 2015); PSOF Exh. B, Weiner Dep. Tr. Part 1
at 48:4-12 (testifying that she knew in June 2015 that RCM
had been awarded an exclusive contract).
event, ATC contends that it toiled away throughout the
summer, continuing to train nurses and preparing to assign
them to CPS locations. Def.'s Resp. PSOF ¶¶
25-26 (“ATC conducted normal preparations for the
upcoming school year and incurred expenses of approximately
$10, 000 in doing so.”); id. ¶¶
18-19 (“On June 9, 2015, CPS requested a ‘final
list of nurse assignments' from ATC and was provided one
shortly thereafter.'”) (quoting R. 154-17, PSOF
Exh. N, CPS-ATC Emails 6/9/15 at 1); Def.'s Resp. PSOF
¶ 23 (“In the spring of 2015, ATC had 147 nurses
assigned to CPS and reasonably expected to provide
approximately the same number for the 2015-2016 school
year.”); id. ¶ 27 (“ATC submitted
their proposed [employment agreement] modifications to CPS on
June 8, which were approved on June 10, 2015.”). After
all, ATC points out, the existing contract required ATC to
continue providing nursing services until CPS officially
terminated it. Def.'s Resp. PSOF ¶¶ 20-21. In
response, RCM argues that ATC has offered no evidence to
prove that it did any work at all during the summer of 2015.
Def.'s Resp. PSOF ¶ 25,  Pl.'s Resp. DSOF ¶
52 (failing to dispute RCM's claim that “[d]uring
the summer of 2015, ATC did not provide training to nurses
who were assigned to CPS.”).
RCM was awarded the contract-and during the time when ATC
(according to ATC) was still in the dark about the imminent
contract termination- RCM began proactively reaching out to
ATC's nurses to recruit them to work for it instead of
for ATC. Def.'s Resp. PSOF ¶¶ 34-39; see
also Pl.'s Resp. DSOF ¶¶ 24-26, 36. ATC
argues that RCM's communications with the nurses were
misleading and confused the nurses. Def.'s Resp. PSOF
¶¶ 34-35; R. 154-5, PSOF Exh. F, Weiner Aff.
¶¶ 19, 21. Specifically, ATC alleges that RCM
misled nurses when it told them “to contact RCM to
‘continue their assignment, '” Def.'s
Resp. PSOF ¶¶ 36-37 (quoting Weiner Aff. ¶
21), and when it sent them an email instructing them to get
fingerprinted, Def.'s Resp. PSOF ¶ 36; R. 154-7,
Weiner Aff. Exh. 2, Fingerprinting Email. ATC also emphasizes
that recruiting ATC's nurses was part of RCM's
transition plan all along. Def.'s Resp. PSOF ¶¶
13-15. In that sense at least, the plan worked: RCM
ultimately hired many ATC nurses, including 41 nurses whom
ATC claims had worked for ATC for at least two years before
they left to join RCM's ranks. Def.'s Resp. PSOF
judgment must be granted “if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine issue of material fact exists
if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In
evaluating summary judgment motions, courts must “view
the facts and draw reasonable inferences in the light most
favorable to the” non-moving party. Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007) (cleaned
The Court “may not weigh conflicting evidence or make
credibility determinations, ” Omnicare, Inc. v.
UnitedHealth Grp., Inc., 629 F.3d 697, 704 (7th Cir.
2011) (cleaned up), and must consider only evidence that can
“be presented in a form that would be admissible in
evidence.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2). The party seeking
summary judgment has the initial burden of showing that there
is no genuine dispute and that it is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law. Carmichael v. Vill. of Palatine,
605 F.3d 451, 460 (7th Cir. 2010); see also Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Wheeler v.
Lawson, 539 F.3d 629, 634 (7th Cir. 2008). If this
burden is met, the adverse party must then “set forth
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256.
claim against RCM is for tortious interference with a
prospective business relationship. Under Illinois law, that
tort has four elements: “(1) [the plaintiff's]
reasonable expectation of entering into a valid business
relationship; (2) the defendant's knowledge of the
plaintiff's expectancy; (3) purposeful interference by
the defendant that prevents the plaintiff's legitimate
expectancy from ripening into a valid business relationship;
and (4) damages to the plaintiff resulting from such
interference.” Fellhauer v. City of Geneva,
568 N.E.2d 870, 878 (Ill. 1991).