Court drops MAI lawsuit

By Sabryna Cornish

A lawsuit against NIU for $1 million was dropped Tuesday, but could be revived soon.

Circuit Court Judge Lester Foreman dismissed the Management Association of Illinois’ suit against NIU.

“The entire argument on our motion to dismiss was based on jurisdictional grounds,” said Stephen Carlson, an attorney for Chicago-based Sidley & Austin, which represented NIU.

MAI President Charles Blanchard said the firm will file an appeal.

Blanchard said the case was dismissed because “the judge did not want to try the case in his court.” The suit was not filed in the correct court, Blanchard said.

He said the suit must be filed with the Illinois Court of Claims and will be filed soon.

“We will pursue the case aggressively,” he said. “Of course there’s disappointment because the whole process will be elongated out.”

Blanchard said the allegations will be proven.

Carlson said that if MAI files an appeal, it won’t matter because he “believes none of the allegations are true.”

Executive Assistant to the president Anne Kaplan said NIU “was not worried (about the lawsuit).”

“We were concerned about the publicity associated with it, though,” she said. “The plaintiff can say anything and you have to rush out and defend yourself.”

Kaplan also said there was “never any proof on any of these claims,” so she was not surprised the lawsuit was dropped.

“There was never any evidence that anybody took anything,” she said.

“(MAI) waited five and a half months to file suit,” Kaplan said. “If anything as outrageous as what they say happened really did happen, wouldn’t you think it would have dawned on them earlier (to sue)?”

Carlson said he believed “the whole thing was irrational to begin with.”

The lawsuit was part of “a pattern of attempted intimidation and harassment of these six individuals,” he said.

The suit stemmed from accusations by MAI which alleged that six of its employees who now work for NIU’s Business and Industry Services stole clients and the program MAI is currently using.

Four of the six named in the suit are former Moraine Valley Community College employees, Hennessey, Conrath, Murray and Young.

NIU requested the suit be dropped last Tuesday. If the suit was not dropped, NIU had filed a motion to move the lawsuit to the Illinois Court of Claims which is in Springfield.

MAI President Charles Blanchard was unavailable for comment.