Father sued for costs of college says he never promised to pay for the student’s expenses

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | May 26, 2015

The father of a 22-year old student seeks to dismiss a lawsuit demanding costs of attending college.

Brenda Wilson sued in February claiming her father Michael Wilson, who divorced her mother when she was three years old, “unambiguously stated he would provide plaintiff with all necessary costs and expenses for her to attend college.”

Her total costs, including tuition, fees, room and board, costs of health insurance and medical costs, exceed $75,000, the suit states.

The plaintiff claims her father has made limited financial contributions towards those costs amounting to $4,000, “more or less.”

Brenda Wilson attended Southwestern Illinois College from August 2010 until December 2012 when she allegedly graduated. She then attended Goldfarb School of Nursing from May 2013 until at least the time of the suit's filing.

The plaintiff claims her father’s promise came during a phone conversation in April 2010, at a time when she was living in Kankakee.

She claims he offered to pay for college if she moved to and attended college in the St. Clair County area.

“In the absence of the promises defendant made to pay the necessary costs and expenses for her to attend college in the St. Clair County area, plaintiff would not have incurred the time, cost and effort to relocate to St. Clair County and to attend college in the area,” the suit states.

Michael Wilson filed a motion to dismiss on Feb. 20 through attorney Eric M. Rhein of Belleville, arguing that he did not and does not have a legal duty to put his daughter through college without an order in the dissolution case.

“As the court knows, had the ex-wife (plaintiff’s mother) pursued her ex-husband (defendant) for college expenses and won, then the mother of the plaintiff would have a contempt or collection action against the defendant, in the [event] he had [not] met his court ordered obligations. There are none in this case. And the child does not have standing to bring this action years after she turned age 18,” the motion states.

He also denies ever making an oral promise to pay for the plaintiff’s college expenses. Further, even if the court can prove that he made an oral promise, a contract must be in writing for a breach of contract allegation to stand, Wilson argues.

Brenda Wilson responded to the motion on April 23, saying her complaint “alleges sufficient facts to demonstrate that a promise was made by defendant of a definite and substantial character … that defendant should have reasonably expected plaintiff to rely on the promise, and that the plaintiff did rely on the promise.”

Circuit Judge Andrew Gleeson scheduled a motion hearing for June 30.

Brenda Wilson is represented by Brian McCarthy of Belleville.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 15-L-62

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