NIU requests suit deferral

By Sabryna Cornish

NIU might not have to answer to the charges a Westchester-based firm is bringing against it.

Circuit Court Judge Lester Foreman deferred action Thursday on Management Association of Illinois’ $1 million lawsuit against NIU, said Anne Kaplan, executive assistant to the president.

Foreman will address the suit Tuesday. However, Foreman also will be hearing several motions NIU has filed.

NIU filed a motion Tuesday to get the suit dismissed, Kaplan said. NIU also filed a suit to have the case heard in an Illinois Court of Claims in Springfield.

Foreman delayed MAI’s request for a temporary restraining order against the NIU Business and Industry Services to prevent it from offering training programs.

Legal Counsel George Shur said NIU is challenging the jurisdiction of the case because “cases against state agencies usually are heard in the Court of Claims.”

MAI President Charles Blanchard said he could not speculate on whether the suit would be dismissed, but he “hoped it would not.”

Blanchard also said it will not make a difference where the case is heard.

“The rights of the case will always rise above the occasion,” he said.

Six former MAI employees approached NIU sometime last summer with the idea of offering training seminars. NIU officials agreed and the six were hired to work at NIU’s B&IS in Hinsdale. Blanchard said the seminars are “identical” to the ones at MAI.

La Tourette said the case was a “frivolous lawsuit” and “basically groundless and meaningless.”

Blanchard said he feels NIU should not be competing with business, but training the business leaders of tomorrow.

MAI is asking for the $1 million to cover lost business. Also

named in the suit are the Board of Regents and the six former employees. Chicago law firm Sidley and Austin represented NIU.

Foreman will hear both sides of the case Tuesday at 3 p.m. in Chicago.