Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Jefferson
DR. ALEXANDER R. SICH, Plaintiff-Appellant,
FRANCISCAN UNIVERSITY OF STEUBENVILLE, Defendant-Appellee.
Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Jefferson County,
Ohio Case No. 16-CV-00574.
John F. Myers, for Plaintiff-Appellant and
James M. Doerfler, and Atty. Kim M. Watterson, Reed Smith
LLP, for Defendant-Appellee.
BEFORE: Carol Ann Robb, Cheryl L. Waite, David A.
OPINION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY
Plaintiff-Appellant Dr. Alexander R. Sich appeals the
decision of Jefferson County Common Pleas Court granting
summary judgment for Defendant-Appellee Franciscan University
of Steubenville. The issue in this case is whether there is a
genuine issue of material fact as to whether Appellee
violated the Employee Handbook when Appellant did not receive
notice of all negative interactions listed in his file. For
the reasons expressed below we find no merit with
Appellant's assignment of error and affirm the trial
of the Facts and Case
Prior to setting forth the facts and arguments it is noted
all appellate briefs, summary judgment motions, and
depositions are under seal. Only the complaint and answer are
not under seal.
In 2009, Appellee hired Appellant to teach physics as an
Associate Professor on a tenure track; Appellant was also to
start a pre-engineering program. In 2016, Appellant submitted
his application for tenure.
The tenure review committee reviewed his application, but
recommended that he be denied tenure. The basis for the
denial was the lack of collegiality or decorous behavior. The
tenure board's recommendation was given to Appellee's
Vice President of Academic Affairs (VPAA). The VPAA also
recommended denial of tenure. The VPAA gave the tenure
board's recommendation and its own recommendation to the
The ultimate decision of whether to grant or deny tenure
rested with the President of Appellee. The President
considered the committee's recommendation, the VPAA's
recommendation, the tenure application and the
applicant's academic file. The President, following his
independent review concluded denial of tenure was proper.
Appellant was notified in writing of the denial of tenure and
was given a basis for the denial. Appellant then filed a
complaint against Appellee asserting breach of contract,
breach of implied contract, promissory estoppel, and
negligent misrepresentation. 11/28/16 Complaint; 6/23/17
Amended Complaint. Appellee answered. 12/27/16 Answer; 7/6/17
Following discovery, Appellee moved for summary judgment.
3/2/18 Motion for Summary Judgment. Appellee asserted
Appellant had notice of all matters in his academic file. As
such, Appellee asserted it did not breach the contract. It
further asserted since there is an express contract through
the handbook, the claim for implied contract and the
promissory estoppel claims fail. 3/2/18 Motion for Summary
Judgment. As to negligent misrepresentation, Appellee
contended the matter is governed by contract and the tort
claim does not survive. 3/2/18 Motion for Summary Judgment.
Appellant filed a motion in opposition to summary judgment
contending there were genuine issues of material fact.
4/30/18 Motion in Opposition to the Motion for Summary
Judgment. Appellant asserted he was not on notice of all of
the matters in his academic file. He contended the handbook
indicated he was to be informed of complaints put in his
file. Appellant asserted the implied breach of contract and
promissory estoppel claims were alternatives if the court
found there was not a contract. 4/30/18 Motion in Opposition
to the ...