Jury Verdict Victory for North Central College in Breach of Contract Case

Partners Manny Sanchez and Brad Alexander obtained a verdict in favor of North Central College. The plaintiff, a 2002 graduate of NCC, filed a five Count Fourth Amended Complaint; however three Counts were dismissed via Motion for Summary Judgment. The remaining Counts alleged alternate theories of Breach of Contract and sought damages for loss of normal life, emotional distress and pain and suffering. The trial took place from July 18th to July 27th in DuPage County before Judge Dorothy French.

In Count 1, the plaintiff alleged Breach of Contract per the Student Handbook’s anti-discrimination provisions. In Count II, the plaintiff alleged Retaliation (based on the Handbook’s Grievance Procedures) following her parents’ May 4, 200l letter to the College, which surfaced their contentions of sexual harassment and discrimination.

The plaintiff, a heterosexual, alleged that the head coach of the NCC Basketball Varsity Team, whom she believed was a lesbian, discriminated against her because of her expression of political and moral opposition to same-sex weddings at a team luncheon in November of 2000. She further claimed that after quitting the team in the middle of her junior year that she was barred from returning to the team during her senior year, in retaliation for her parents sending the accusatory letter to the Athletic Director and President of the College.

The plaintiff’s pre-trial demand was $1.6 million, and counsel asked the jury for “a million dollars”. The defense suggested an amount of zero. The jury deliberated for approximately 6 hours and returned a verdict on the Discrimination Count in favor of the defendant. As to the Retaliation Count, the jury found for the plaintiff and returned a verdict awarding damages of $10,000 for the loss of normal life, and zero damages for emotional distress/pain and suffering.

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