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Vail v. Board of Education of Paris Union School District Number 95

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
706 F.2d 1435 (1983)


A search committee for the Board of Education of Paris Union School District No. 95 (board) (defendant) traveled to Joliet, Illinois to recruit Jesse Vail (plaintiff) for an athletic director and football coach position. Vail had lived with his family in Joliet for 13 years and had been employed for 10 years at a Joliet correctional center. Vail expressed concern to the committee about job security, contract-term length, and the time needed to correct deficiencies in the school district’s athletic program. The committee responded that it could not make a commitment beyond one year and that the full board would determine the contract length. In June 1980, the board decided to offer Vail an employment contract that would secure his position for two years. The board assured Vail that it would renew his contract at the end of the first year. Vail executed a written contract for the position, which offered a lower salary than his previous position. In March 1981, the board voted not to renew Vail’s contract. The board did not provide Vail with a hearing or an explanation of the reason for his termination. Vail sued the board under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that he had a property interest in his job that the board had deprived him of without due process of law. The district court found that Vail had a constitutionally protected interest in continued employment and that the board had violated due process by terminating Vail without cause before the expiration of his employment period. The court awarded Vail $19,850.99 in damages. On appeal, the board claimed that: (1) Vail had only a subjective expectation of continued employment; (2) Illinois law governed Vail’s rights; and (3) the proper remedy was not damages, but either a hearing to determine whether termination was justified or a remand to require Vail to prove his actual losses.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Wood, J.)

Concurrence (Eschbach, J.)

Dissent (Posner, J.)

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