Ex-Muhammad University teacher's termination suit tossed over failure to properly serve

By Mike Helenthal | May 29, 2017

CHICAGO — An appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling that dismissed a suit filed over the alleged wrongful termination of a teacher at the Muhammad University of Islam.

The decision, handed down by the Illinois First District Appellate Court, was delivered as an unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23, which limits its use as a legal precedent.

The breach of contract suit, filed by part-time language arts instructor Allisah Love in 2010, claimed the instructor had been dismissed in 2009 in retaliation.

Love had asked for $9,500 in damages, claiming intentional infliction of emotion distress, defamation of character and fraudulent business practices.

But the summons against the university was returned to the sheriff’s office after it was delivered to the university mosque in Chicago in October 2010, with a note from an employee there that said he was unauthorized to accept it.

No action was taken in the suit until July 2015, when an alias summons was issued by Love’s attorneys to what was believed to be the university’s law firm—though the law firm claimed no knowledge of the defendant.

In September, the university was served a summons by registered mail, but in December moved to dismiss the complaint based on the plaintiff’s “failure to exercise due diligence” under an Illinois Supreme Court rule.

“No written response from plaintiff appears in the record, although plaintiff has included in an appendix to her brief a ‘motion to quash’ the motion to dismiss” in January 2016, the justices said.

In March 2016, a Cook County judge dismissed the suit, “finding that plaintiff had failed to exercise due diligence and that the statute of limitations applicable to plaintiff’s claims—five years—had expired.”

In upholding the lower court decision, the appeals court cited Supreme Court Rule 103(b), which lays out reasons behind the “reasonable diligence” argument that include giving a defendant a fair opportunity of investigation, and not allowing a plaintiff to file a late suit only when it is ready to litigate.

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