Jury Instructions-IL > Contract > Termination Case – School Teacher
Kryan Hanagan vs. Board of Education of School District #149, 03 L 5480
Breach of School Teacher’s Employment Contract with Affirmative Defenses
Based upon performance evaluations and complaints, a newly hired computer science teacher was terminated before expiration of her teacher’s contract. Here, once the plaintiff makes a prima facie case of performance, then the burden shifts to the defendants to show that there was just cause (i.e. affirmative defense of incompetency) for termination. Since several school board members were not called by the defendant, an I.P.I 501 instruction was given.
Verdict for plaintiff of $8,000 instead of the $33,000 prayer for relief.
IPI 1.01 – Modified by the court to be read at end of case, and updated by IPI Committee in 2009 to include old IPI 3.01 language)
Now that the evidence has concluded, I will further instruct you as to the law and your duties. The law regarding this case is contained in the instructions I will give to you. You must consider the Court’s instructions as a whole, not picking out some instructions and disregarding others.
It is your duty to resolve this case by determining the facts and following the law given in the instructions. Your verdict must not be based upon speculation, prejudice, or sympathy.
I have not meant to indicate any opinion as to the facts of this case by any of my rulings, remarks, or instructions.
You will decide what facts have been proven. Facts may be proven by evidence or reasonable inferences drawn from the evidence. Evidence consists of the testimony of witnesses and of exhibits admitted by the court. You should consider all the evidence without regard to which party produced it. You may use common sense gained from your experiences in life in evaluating what you see and hear during trial.
You are the only judges of the credibility of the witnesses. You will decide the weight to be given to the testimony of each of them. In evaluating the credibility of a witness you may consider that witness’ ability and opportunity to observe, memory, manner, interest, bias, qualifications, experience, and any previous inconsistent statement or act by the witness concerning an issue important to the case.
The use of cell phones, text messaging, Internet postings and Internet access devices in connection with your deliberations violates the rules of evidence and you are prohibited from using them
You must make your decision based on what you recall of the evidence. You will not receive a written transcript of the testimony when you retire to the jury room.
An opening statement is what an attorney expects the evidence will be. A closing argument is given at the conclusion of the case and is a summary of what an attorney contends the evidence has shown. If any statement or argument of an attorney is not supported by the law or the evidence you should disregard that statement.
IPI 3.02 Witness Who Has Been Interviewed by Attorney
An attorney may, if a witness agrees, interview a witness to learn what testimony will be given. Such an interview, by itself, does not reflect adversely on the truth of the testimony of the witness.
IPI 3.04 Circumstantial Evidence
A fact may be proved by circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence consists of the proof of facts or circumstances which leads to a reasonable inference of the existence of other facts sought to be established.
IPI 5.01 Failure to Produce Witness [or Evidence]
If a party to this case has failed to produce a witness within its power to produce, you may infer that the testimony of the witness would be adverse to that party if you believe each of the following elements:
1. The witness was under the control of the party and could have been produced by the exercise of reasonable diligence.
2. The witness was not equally available to an adverse party.
3. A reasonably prudent person under the same or similar circumstances would have produced the witness if he believed the testimony would be favorable to him.
4. No reasonable excuse for the failure has been shown.
700.01 Contracts—Definition of Contract—No Factual Dispute as to Formation of Contract and Terms of Contract/Modified
The Plaintiff in this case is: Kyran Hanagan
The Defendant in this case is: Board of Education of School District 149
The Plaintiff and the Defendant agree and admit that at the time that the Plaintiff was terminated there was a legally enforceable teaching contract from August 22, 2002 to June 16, 2003 at a base salary of $56,797 plus benefits.
700.11 Contracts—Several Documents
A written contract may consist of more than one document.
700.18 Contracts—Breach of Contract—Issues Made by Pleadings—One Defendant—No Dispute as to Contract Formation or Jury Finding in Favor of Contract Formation
The plaintiff and defendant have entered into a contract.
You must decide the following issues: Plaintiff claims that she substantially performed all obligations required of her under that contract or that the Plaintiff is excused from performing such obligations required of her under the contract.  Plaintiff further claims that defendant failed to perform its obligations under the contract and breached said contract in that:
A. The defendant terminated the plaintiff before expiration of the term of the contract; or
B. The defendant failed to follow its own rules and policies in deciding to terminate the plaintiff’s contract prior to its expiration; or
C. The defendant failed to provide support services to enable the plaintiff to complete performance. The plaintiff further claims she has been damaged as a result of the breach of contract.  The defendant denies it failed to perform its obligations under the contract.  The defendant further denies that the plaintiff sustained damages to the extent claimed.  The defendant also sets up the following affirmative defense:
Based upon incompetence, cruelty, negligence, immorality or other sufficient cause, the plaintiff demonstrated a substantial shortcoming that rendered continued employment detrimental to discipline and effectiveness of service that constituted good reason for the teacher to be terminated from her position. The plaintiff denies that the defendant’s affirmative defense  Defendant further claims that plaintiff failed to exercise due care to mitigate damages.  Plaintiff denies that she failed to exercise due care to mitigate damages.
IPI 21.01 – BURDEN OF PROOF
When I say that a party has the burden of proof on any proposition, or use the expression “if you find,” or “if you decide,” I mean you must be persuaded, considering all the evidence in the case, that the proposition on which he has the burden of proof is more probably true than not true.
700.20 Contracts—Breach of Contract—Burden of Proof on the Issues—Affirmative Defenses Not Relating to Contract Enforcement—No Dispute as to Contract Formation or Jury Finding in Favor of Contract Formation
The plaintiff and defendant entered into a contract.
The plaintiff now has the burden of proving each of the following propositions:
First, that plaintiff substantially performed all obligations required of her under the contract or that plaintiff is excused from performing such obligations required of her under the contract.
Second, that defendant failed to perform its obligations under the contract and breached said contract.
Third, that as a result of the breach of contract, plaintiff sustained damages.
In this case defendant has asserted the affirmative defense that
Based upon incompetence, cruelty, negligence, immorality or other sufficient cause, the plaintiff demonstrated a substantial shortcoming that rendered continued employment detrimental to discipline and effectiveness of service that constituted good reason for the teacher to be terminated from her position.
The defendant has the burden of proving this affirmative defense.
If you find from your consideration of all the evidence that each of these propositions required of the plaintiff has been proved and that the defendant’s affirmative defense has not been proved, then your verdict should be for the plaintiff.
If, on the other hand, you find from your consideration of all the evidence, that any of the propositions the plaintiff is required to prove has not been proved, or that the defendant’s affirmative defense has been proved, then your verdict should be for the defendant.
700.12 Contracts—Definition of Substantial Performance
When I use the phrase “substantially performed,” I mean a performance in good faith of almost all that the contract required with only slight deviations. Such performance does not materially affect the benefits a party would have received from full performance.
700.13/30.07 Contracts—Damages—Breach of Contract
If you decide for the plaintiff on her claim for breach of contract, you must fix the amount of money which will reasonably compensate the plaintiff for all loss naturally arising from the breach.
In calculating plaintiff’s damages, you should determine that sum of money that will put the plaintiff in as good a position as he would have been in if both plaintiff and defendant had performed all of their promises under the contract.
The elements of damage claimed by the plaintiff in this case are:
The value of earnings, salaries, benefits lost.
Whether damages have been proved by the evidence is for you to determine.
700.17 Mitigation of Damages—Breach of Contract
In fixing the amount of money which will reasonably and fairly compensate the plaintiff, you must consider that a person who has been damaged by a breach of contract must exercise ordinary care to minimize existing damages and to prevent further damage.
Damages caused by a failure to exercise such care cannot be recovered. The defendant has the burden of proof on this issue.
IPI 10.02 Ordinary Care—Adult—Definition
When I use the words “ordinary care,” I mean the care a reasonably careful person would use under circumstances similar to those shown by the evidence. The law does not say how a reasonably careful person would act under those circumstances. That is for you to decide.
B45.01 – FORMS OF VERDICT – NO COMPARATIVE
When you retire to the jury room you will first select a foreperson. He or she will preside during your deliberations.
Your verdict must be unanimous.
Forms of verdicts are supplied with these instructions. After you have reached your verdict, fill in and sign the appropriate form of verdict and return it to the court. Your verdict must be signed by each of you. You should not write or mark upon this or any of the other instructions given to you by the court.
The Plaintiff in this case is: Kyran Hanagan
The Defendant in this case is: Board of Education of School District 149
If you find for the Plaintiff and against the Defendant, then you should use Verdict Form A.
If you find for the Defendant and against the Plaintiff, then you should use Verdict Form B.
VERDICT FORM A
We, the jury, find for the Plaintiff and against the Defendant. We assess the damages in the amount of $_________________[Signature Lines ]
**B45.01.B Verdict Form B- COMPARATIVE
VERDICT FORM B
We, the jury, find for the Defendant and against the Plaintiff.[Signature Lines ]
————-[Note: See: § 105 ILCS 5/10-22.4. Dismissal of teachers reads that dismissal must be based upon “incompetency, cruelty, negligence, immorality or other sufficient cause” as defined in Fadler v. State, 153 Ill. App. 3d 1024 *(5th 1987) some substantial shortcoming which renders continuance in employment detrimental to discipline and effectiveness of service, or something which the law and sound public opinion recognizes as a good reason for the teacher to no longer occupy the position.]