Jonathan Bilyk Jul. 28, 2015, 4:33pm

This summer, organizers of the Miss America pageant have indicated they wish to cut ties with the Illinois organization that has for years selected this state’s entrant into the nationwide contest, as they appear poised to pass the tiara to a new group to run the Miss Illinois event.

However, while that issue is hashed out, the longtime Miss Illinois organizers are asking a Cook County judge to make sure Miss America doesn’t glide away with the ticket sales and other money they believe they are owed from this year’s event in downstate Marion.

On July 24, Illinois Scholarship Association Inc., based in Lake in the Hills, filed a complaint in Cook County Circuit Court against The Miss America Organization, to recover at least $69,000 in ticket sales and other revenue ISAI says Miss America Organization improperly claimed from the June 2015 pageant.

The suit centers on the aftermath of the Miss Illinois pageant, held at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center in the city of Marion.

According to the complaint, as the holder of the official Illinois state license agreement (SLA) granted by the Miss America Organization since 2006, the ISAI said it contracted with the city of Marion to hold the annual Miss Illinois event at Marion’s Civic Center until 2015. That contract, the ISAI said, entitled them to the proceeds from the annual event.

ISAI stressed Miss America Organization was not a party to that contract.

Following this year’s Miss Illinois pageant, ISAI said it received a letter June 16 notifying them the Miss America Organization intended to “terminate ISAI’s exclusive SLA.”

In its complaint, ISAI indicated it has filed an appeal with the New Jersey-based Miss America Organization, and expects that appeal to be heard Aug. 14.

In the meantime, however, ISAI said the Miss America Organization “coerced the city of Marion to withhold payment” of the approximately $69,205 in ticket sales generated by the Miss Illinois event which ISAI said it is contractually obligated to receive.

According to the complaint, Miss America organizers told Marion city officials the ISAI’s license agreement had been “terminated,” effective June 16, “because of breaches of the licensee agreement.” Therefore, Miss America Organization said, the money should be “turned over to MAO because the Illinois Organization … has no authority to operate as part of the Miss America program.”

The ISAI alleges two counts of tortious interference with a contract and an existing business relationship against the Miss America Organization.

ISAI has requested actual and punitive damages against Miss America Organization, and a jury trial.

ISAI is represented in the action by attorney Anthony J. Sassan, of the firm of Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle, of Crystal Lake.

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