JOHNSON v. LINCOLN CHRISTIAN COLLEGE
150 Ill. App.3d 733 (1986)
501 N.E.2d 1380
GREGORY JOHNSON, Plaintiff-Appellant,
LINCOLN CHRISTIAN COLLEGE et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Appellate Court of Illinois — Fourth District.
Opinion filed December 16, 1986.
James A. McKenna and Melinda S. Levine, both of Jenner & Block, of Chicago, and National Gay Rights Advocates, of San Francisco, California, for appellant.
William B. Bates, of Woods & Bates, of Lincoln, and Sorling, Northrup, Hanna, Cullen & Cochran, Ltd., of Springfield (William S. Hanley, Stephen R. Kaufmann, and Alan R. Post, of counsel), for appellee Lincoln Christian College.
James E. Souk, of Dobrovolny & Souk, of Urbana, for appellee Kent Paris.
Affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded.
PRESIDING JUSTICE SPITZ delivered the opinion of the court:
Gregory Johnson filed suit against Lincoln Christian College (LCC) and Kent Paris, and both defendants filed motions to dismiss his complaint. These motions were allowed. Johnson appeals from the dismissal of his complaint.
• 1 When considering a motion to dismiss, a court is obligated to accept as true all well-pleaded facts and all reasonable inferences which could be drawn from those facts. (Horwath v. Parker (1979), 72 Ill.App.3d 128, 134, 390 N.E.2d 72, 77.) Pursuant to section 2-612(b) of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 2-612(b)), "[n]o pleading is bad in substance which contains such
information as reasonably informs the opposite party of the nature of the claim or defense which he or she is called upon to meet." Pursuant to section 2-603(c) of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 2-603(c)), "[p]leadings shall be liberally construed with a view to doing substantial justice between the parties." Furthermore, as this court stated in Champaign National Bank v. Illinois Power Co. (1984), 125 Ill.App.3d 424, 428-29, 465 N.E.2d 1016, 1019, "[i]f the facts alleged and any reasonable inferences capable of being drawn from those facts demonstrate a possibility of recovery, the pleading is not subject to dismissal." Consequently, our focus on review is whether any of the counts of Johnson's complaint "demonstrate a possibility of recovery," and, for the purpose of this appeal, we deem the following well-pleaded facts to be correct.
Johnson was a student at Lincoln Christian College from September 1976 to March 1981. He was enrolled in a five-year program to prepare him for a career teaching sacred music. Johnson has completed all of his course requirements and fully paid his tuition for each year; however, LCC has repeatedly refused to grant Johnson his diploma. LCC based its denial on a charge that Johnson might be homosexual.
The charge of homosexuality arose when, during Johnson's last semester at LCC, another student, Linda Heppner, told LCC's dean of students, Thomas Ewald, that Johnson might be homosexual. Solely in response to that student's accusation and without further investigation, LCC through Heppner, told Johnson that he would graduate only if he sought counseling from Kent Paris. Relying upon LCC's assurances that he would graduate if he sought counseling, and afraid that he would not graduate unless he complied with LCC's demand, Johnson repeatedly traveled between Lincoln and Champaign, where Paris' office was located, and attended private counseling sessions.
Throughout these counseling sessions, Johnson believed that anything he said, and any of Paris' resulting conclusions, would be held in confidence. Because he believed that the conversations were confidential, Johnson was willing to, and did, reveal many personal facts, some of which he had never told anyone else. He would not have given that information to Paris if he had suspected that Paris would discuss the information or his resulting conclusions with anyone else. Johnson never consented to the disclosure of any information about these counseling sessions, and Paris never in any way contradicted Johnson's faith in the confidentiality of their discussions; however, Paris reported to Ewald in March of 1981 that plaintiff had not changed and was not progressing.