JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the court:
The plaintiff, Ruth Ellis, filed suit against the Board
The plaintiff raises two issues on appeal before this court. First, whether the Board is the "State of Illinois" within the meaning of the Court of Claims Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 37, par. 439.1 et seq.) and therefore must be sued in the Court of Claims and, second, whether her suit is outside the exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of Claims because it is based upon a violation of her statutory rights.
Plaintiff was a tenured professor at Northeastern Illinois University. During the 1974-75 academic school year she was sent to Sweden to participate in an approved educational and research program. While in Sweden, plaintiff became ill and was placed on a medical leave of absence. Plaintiff applied for temporary disability payments
Plaintiff alleges that the University forced her into early retirement by refusing to give her temporary disability and that she was constructively dismissed from her tenured position in violation of section 8(3) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 144, par. 1008(3)), which provides for dismissal only for good cause. Plaintiff believes she should be reinstated to her tenured position and receive money damages for her lost salary or, in the alternative, temporary disability payments from the 1975-76 academic school year until the present.
The plaintiff contends that the doctrine of sovereign immunity does not apply to the Board and that the circuit court therefore has jurisdiction over her claim. In S.J. Groves & Sons Co. v. State (1982), 93 Ill.2d 397, we stated:
As we also stated in Groves:
We will first address plaintiff's assertion that the Board is not the "State of Illinois" for purposes of sovereign immunity. In Williams v. Medical Center Com. (1975), 60 Ill.2d 389, this court held that the Medical Center Commission, a body politic and corporate, was an arm of the State and only subject to suit in the Illinois Court of Claims pursuant to the Court of Claims Act. This court stated:
Then, in Kane v. Board of Governors (1976), 43 Ill.App.3d 315, the appellate court, in comparing the Medical Center Commission in Williams to the Board of Governors, held:
We agree with the court in Kane that the Board is an arm of the State of Illinois. Plaintiff relies on People ex rel. Board of Trustees v. Barrett (1943), 382 Ill. 321, for the proposition that since this court held that the University of Illinois is "no part of the State or State government" 382 Ill. 321, 343), and that the trustees of the university were "not State officers in the sense that the Attorney General is their legal advisor or representative" 382 Ill. 321, 346), that the Board of Governors is also not the "State" for purposes of sovereign immunity. In Barrett, however, this court also held that "[n]o suit can be maintained against it [the University of Illinois] which would adversely affect the rights of the State. Schwing v. Miles, 367 Ill. 436." (382 Ill.2d 321, 343.) It is clear then, that the University was cloaked with sovereign immunity to the extent that it was immune from any suit which would subject the State to liability and adversely affect the rights of the State. We do not agree with plaintiff that our holding in Barrett is dispositive of the instant case. Instead, we hold that the Board is the State for purposes of sovereign immunity to
We next address the plaintiff's second contention that her cause of action is outside the exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of Claims because it is based upon an alleged violation of a statutory right. We do not agree.
Whether an action against the State is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of Claims depends on the issues involved and the type of relief sought. (Moline Tool Co. v. Department of Revenue (1951), 410 Ill. 35, 37; Boards of Education v. Cronin (1977), 54 Ill.App.3d 584, 586.) Plaintiff asserts that because her cause of action is based on an alleged violation of a statute and because she is asking for injunctive relief (in addition to money damages), her action is not within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of Claims but can be brought in the circuit court of Sangamon County.
Under the Court of Claims Act "[t]he court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine the following matters:
It is clear that since we have decided that the Board is an arm of the State and must be sued in the Court of Claims, whether the plaintiff's cause of action sounds in tort, or in contract for breach of her employment contract,
Because plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, in addition to money damages, does not mean, as plaintiff asserts, that her suit must be severed into two parts, that portion of the suit for money damages being brought in the Court of Claims and the other portion being brought in the circuit court. As the appellate court correctly noted, Bio-Medical Laboratories, Inc. v. Trainor (1977), 68 Ill.2d 540, stands for the proposition that if a plaintiff is not attempting to enforce a present claim against the State, but rather seeks to enjoin a State officer from taking future actions in excess of his delegated authority, then the immunity prohibition does not pertain. (68 Ill.2d 540, 548.) However, we agree with the appellate court that the plaintiff's suit in the instant case is clearly based upon a present claim which has the potential to subject the State to liability and thus must be brought in the Court of Claims.
The plaintiff's assertion that this case presents a separation of powers issue is without merit. In Seifert v. Standard Paving Co. (1976), 64 Ill.2d 109, this court rejected the same argument which plaintiff raises herein regarding the separation of powers doctrine. In Seifert, this court stated: "We have no doubt that the Court of Claims Act does not violate the separation of powers provision of the Constitution of Illinois." 64 Ill.2d 109, 122.
For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the judgment of
JUSTICE UNDERWOOD took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
JUSTICE SIMON, concurring in part and dissenting in part:
The plaintiff, Ruth Ellis, asserts that she was discharged without good cause from her tenured position as a professor at Northeastern Illinois University. Ellis filed an action against the Board of Governors of State Colleges and Universities of Illinois alleging that her dismissal violated section 8(3) of "An Act to provide for the management, operation, control and maintenance of the State Colleges and Universities System" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 144, par. 1008(3)). She seeks "an award of damages and appropriate injunctive relief for breach of [her] employment rights." (Emphasis added.)
The majority correctly holds that Ellis may not bring her claim for money damages in the circuit court, but it erroneously holds that she is also barred from bringing a complaint seeking equitable relief in that court. Ellis' request for reinstatement based on section 8(3) is no different from the action that this court allowed to go forward in the circuit court in Bio-Medical Laboratories, Inc. v. Trainor (1977), 68 Ill.2d 540, 548. Ellis seeks an injunction forcing the State to continue their employment relationship. "Plaintiff is not attempting to enforce a present claim against the State but, rather, seeks to enjoin the defendant from taking actions in excess of his delegated authority and in violation of plaintiff's protectable legal interests. Such a suit does not contravene the immunity prohibition. * * * [Nor does] the Court of Claims [have] exclusive jurisdiction over the subject matter of this action." 68 Ill.2d 540,
The majority distinguishes Bio-Medical Laboratories, finding that Ellis' suit is "clearly based upon a present claim which has the potential to subject the State to liability." (102 Ill.2d at 395.) While this may describe Ellis' claim for back pay, it certainly does not portray the basis for her claim for reinstatement. The latter claim would be based on proof that although she is ready and able to resume her status as a tenured professor, the Board, contrary to its statutory mandate, continues to prevent her from doing so. Although the Board's decision to terminate her occurred in the past, the relief sought looks to the reestablishment in the future of an employment relationship between the parties.
The Court of Claims only has authority to recommend that the legislature make an appropriation for an award of damages in this case. But damages do not sufficiently recompense the plaintiff for the injury alleged; they do not give her back her professorship. To allow Ellis the opportunity to obtain complete relief I would allow her to maintain her claim for reinstatement in the circuit court.