Former Woodland board member dismissed from lawsuit
A Lake County judge has dismissed a former Woodland Elementary District 50 board member from a lawsuit that claimed a company employing her husband unfairly landed school spirit wear and athletic uniform deals in place of another business.
Judge Diane Winter signed the order removing Kellie Pappas from the breach-of-contract suit filed in April by Ink N' Tees Inc. of Waukegan against her individually, Gurnee-based District 50 and other defendants. Pappas was dismissed from the suit "with prejudice," meaning it cannot be refiled against her, the order states.
Winter also dismissed the other defendants from the suit but is allowing Ink N' Tees about a month to refile its accusations against them. Without elaborating, Ink N' Tees attorney C. Jeffrey Thut said he intends to file an amended lawsuit on behalf of his clients.
Pappas, who resigned from the school board in July because she moved outside the district, expressed satisfaction with the ruling.
"The real losers are the taxpayers of the Woodland School District 50 community and the children that go there -- the same community that the plaintiffs live in," she said Thursday. "These frivolous lawsuits cost tens of thousands of dollars to defend and that money comes from the taxpayers. The purpose of this lawsuit was personally driven and nothing more. My integrity and character has always been held to the highest standard, and the dismissal (Tuesday) demonstrated that."
In part, the suit contended Pappas influenced District 50 to direct business to her husband, a sales representative with Hat World Inc., which operates in Illinois under the name Lids Team Sports. James Pappas handles uniform and spirit wear business for at least 100 public and private suburban schools.
Kellie Pappas was protected from litigation as a school board member under the state's tort immunity act, her attorney wrote in a motion to dismiss the suit that also denied all accusations. District 50 attorney James Petrungaro also wrote that Illinois school code prevents board members from being sued.
Ink N' Tees began supplying District 50 with school spirit wear in 2003, according to the suit. Ink N' Tees also supplied athletic team uniforms in 2012, Roar program clothing in 2009, and nonathletic, extracurricular spirit wear in 2005, court documents state.
District 50 agreed to buy athletic uniforms through Lids Team Sports in 2014 and nonathletic clothing in 2015 before Kellie Pappas joined the school board, according to the suit. Lids received spirit wear business for the district's Roar program in November 2015 while Kellie Pappas was a board member.
The suit also claims she was Woodland Parent Teacher Association president in October 2014 when she met with Ink N' Tees regarding clothing sales for the upcoming year. While the PTA indicated it would take bids from spirit wear vendors in January 2015, the suit said that never occurred and Lids Team Sports received the contract.
Ink N' Tees' amended suit, if filed, would include District 50, the PTA and Hat World. Ink N' Tees sought more than $100,000 in damages in the original complaint.