Breuder lawsuit to continue against COD trustees

  • Former College of DuPage President Robert Breuder's lawsuit against three current and one former school trustee will continue.

    Former College of DuPage President Robert Breuder's lawsuit against three current and one former school trustee will continue. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Updated 3/1/2017 6:47 PM

Former College of DuPage President Robert Breuder's lawsuit against one former and three current school trustees will continue after a federal judge on Wednesday refused to dismiss the case in its entirety.

Breuder filed the federal lawsuit against the Glen Ellyn school's seven-member board of trustees and specifically former Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton and three current board members -- Deanne Mazzochi, Frank Napolitano and Charles Bernstein -- after he was fired in October 2015. The suit, which seeks more than $2 million in damages, claims he was wrongfully terminated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Attorneys for the board and lawyers representing Hamilton, Mazzochi, Napolitano and Bernstein filed separate motions last year to dismiss all six counts of Breuder's lawsuit.

On Wednesday, U.S. Northern District Court Judge Andrea Wood issued a written ruling that dismisses only one of the counts -- which alleged interference with contract -- in its entirety. She also dismissed portions of two other counts but allowed parts of those to remain.

Finally, the judge refused to dismiss three other counts. Two of them allege a due process violation, and the third alleges breach of contract.

The decision was released shortly before a scheduled Wednesday morning status hearing. The hearing has been moved to March 30.

After the ruling, a COD spokesman said school officials are aware of the decision. He said it would be "premature for the college to comment further."

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Breuder could not be reached for comment.

Breuder filed the suit one day after being fired in a 4-1 vote from his post at the college.

The board's vote voided the school's $763,000 severance deal with Breuder, a package approved by the previous board and staunchly opposed by Hamilton and her allies at the time -- Mazzochi, Bernstein and Napolitano.

Hamilton stepped down from the board in December 2015, citing unspecified personal reasons.

In one of the counts not affected by Wood's ruling, Breuder alleges that a board-approved investigation into his activities as president was a "witch-hunt" that found no evidence of wrongdoing.

His termination, he said, resulted in loss of income, "extreme embarrassment" and "acute emotional distress."

In another count, Breuder alleges his 14th Amendment rights to due process were illegally denied by COD and the board because he was never allowed to defend himself against accusations of wrongdoing.

Breuder said the board forbade him from speaking to the media. He also said he was entitled to have his termination decided by "a fair and impartial tribunal" instead of the board.

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