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Giampa v. Sunbeam Corp.

FEBRUARY 8, 1966.

LOUIS GIAMPA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

SUNBEAM CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE, AND ROBERT TRINSKI, DEFENDANT. ORLANDO CANTANESE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

SUNBEAM CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE, AND ROBERT TRINSKI, DEFENDANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court, Cook County, County Department, Law Division; the Hon. ALBERT E. HALLETT, Judge, presiding. Judgment affirmed.

MR. JUSTICE BURKE DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

This appeal is taken from an order allowing defendant Sunbeam Corporation's motion for summary judgment against plaintiffs in their actions for false arrest and malicious prosecution.

Plaintiffs Louis Giampa, Orlando Cantanese and Gilbert Gaudio filed their complaints against Chicago Police Officer Robert Trinski and the Sunbeam Corporation, alleging that on September 9, 1959, Officer Trinski, duly authorized agent and acting for and on behalf of Sunbeam Corporation, appeared before a judge of the Municipal Court and filed criminal complaints against the plaintiffs, charging them with conspiring to steal the "goods and property" of the Sunbeam Corporation. The complaints further alleged that Officer Trinski, again acting as agent for Sunbeam Corporation, procured a warrant for the arrest of plaintiffs and caused them to be taken into custody, that plaintiffs were released on bond, and subsequently were indicted by the Cook County Grand Jury. It was further alleged that Officer Trinski, acting as Sunbeam Corporation's agent, procured the State's Attorney to cause a capias to issue for the arrest of plaintiffs a second time, after which a trial was had on the criminal charges and plaintiffs' motion for a directed verdict of not guilty was granted.

Defendant Sunbeam filed answers to the complaints specifically denying that Officer Trinski was either its agent or was authorized to act in its behalf, and affirmatively stating that Officer Trinski was a Chicago Police Officer assigned to the State's Attorney's Office and acted solely under the direction and control of that Office. Sunbeam denied that it had at any time requested or authorized Officer Trinski to file criminal complaints against the plaintiffs or to procure a warrant for their arrests.

The plaintiffs' complaints were consolidated. Plaintiff Gaudio died during the pendency of these actions and his action against the defendants was dismissed.

A motion for summary judgment was filed by Sunbeam Corporation pursuant to section 57 of the Civil Practice Act, together with supporting affidavits, depositions and exhibits. The affidavit of John J. Dahm, an officer and agent of the Sunbeam Corporation, recited that he had knowledge of the loss by theft of property belonging to the Sunbeam Corporation; that he reported the same to the State's Attorney's Office which in turn assigned Officer Robert Trinski to investigate the matter; that Officer Trinski did in fact investigate the matter and did so under the direction and control of the State's Attorney's Office; that Sunbeam Corporation never requested anything of Officer Trinski, and specifically never requested Officer Trinski to procure a warrant for the arrests of plaintiffs or to sign criminal complaints against them; that Sunbeam Corporation never directly acted to cause the arrests of plaintiffs; and that Sunbeam Corporation had no malice against any of the plaintiffs.

The affidavit of Frank J. Ferlic, the First Assistant State's Attorney, recited that he conferred with officers of the Sunbeam Corporation on July 25, 1959, concerning the theft of some $287,000 worth of property belonging to Sunbeam, and contacted the State's Attorney's Chief Investigator Paul Newey concerning the matter. Officer Robert Trinski was assigned to the case and reported his findings to First Assistant State's Attorney Ferlic. Ferlic and Trinski discussed the possibility of a criminal action against plaintiffs, and Ferlic directed Officer Trinski to procure a warrant for plaintiffs' arrests, after which Ferlic caused plaintiffs to go before the Grand Jury. The affidavit stated that Officer Trinski acted solely for and on behalf of the State's Attorney's Office and acted solely in an official capacity.

A deposition was taken from Officer Trinski wherein he stated that he was assigned to the Sunbeam investigation by Paul Newey. Before he caused plaintiffs to be arrested Officer Trinski stated that he discussed the matter with Frank Ferlic and that he, Trinski, signed the complaints against plaintiffs. Officer Trinski stated that except for the original conference with an officer of the Sunbeam Corporation at the outset of the investigation, he had no conversation with any officer of Sunbeam or with any of Sunbeam's attorneys prior to his signing of the complaints and his procurement of the warrants for the plaintiffs' arrests.

A deposition was also taken from plaintiff Giampa, and a stipulation was entered between Giampa and Sunbeam to the effect that Officer Trinski had caused his arrest. The criminal complaints against the plaintiffs were signed "Robert Trinski, State's Attorney's Police."

Plaintiffs filed an answer to defendant's motion for summary judgment, again alleging that "Robert Trinski acted as agent and servant of Sunbeam Corporation when he arrested plaintiffs," that "certain agents of defendant Sunbeam Corporation prosecuted plaintiffs through the State's Attorney of Cook County," and that all statements contained in Sunbeam's affidavit were self-serving, hearsay and conclusions. Plaintiffs filed no supporting affidavits or exhibits with its answer to defendant's motion for summary judgment.

Defendant's motion was allowed and judgment was entered against plaintiffs and for defendant's costs. The actions against Officer Trinski are still pending in the trial court and are not involved in this appeal.

Plaintiffs maintain that "ultimate material disputed questions of fact" exist as to whether Officer Trinski acted as Sunbeam's agent in procuring the arrests and prosecution of the plaintiffs and as to whether defendant Sunbeam procured the arrests and prosecution, and that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment.

[1-5] The purpose of the summary judgment proceeding is to avoid congestion of trial calendars and the expense of unnecessary trials, by summarily disposing of cases wherein is presented no genuine issue of material fact. Ill Rev Stats 1963, chap 110, par 57; Allen v. Meyer, 14 Ill.2d 284, 292, 152 N.E.2d 576. The mere fact that an issue is raised by the pleadings does not of itself give rise to the right to a trial; the issue of fact which is raised must be a genuine issue of fact. As was stated in Roberts v. Sauerman Bros., Inc., 300 Ill. App. 213, at pages 217, 218, 20 N.E.2d 849:

". . . The fact that the pleadings joined issue does not prevent the entry of a summary judgment. The pleadings should be considered in order that the court may know what the issues are. Ordinarily, a motion for summary judgment presupposes that the pleadings properly join issue. If the pleadings do not join issue, the usual practice is to dispose of them on motions to strike or to dismiss. A person may be able to state a good defense in a pleading, and yet when he is required to set up that defense in affidavits according to the requirements of Rule 15 of the Supreme Court, it may become apparent that he has no defense. If he has no defense, he is not entitled to a trial. The duty often devolves on the court during a trial to direct a verdict. Then the court decides that there is no issue of fact for the jury to pass upon. Likewise, on a motion for ...


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