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La Salle Nat. Bk. v. Bd. of Sch. Trustees

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 26, 1975.

LA SALLE NATIONAL BANK, TRUSTEE, APPELLANT,

v.

COUNTY BOARD OF SCHOOL TRUSTEES OF DU PAGE COUNTY ET AL., APPELLEES. — PULLMAN BANK AND TRUST CO., TRUSTEE, ET AL., APPELLANTS,

v.

TRUSTEES OF SCHOOLS OF TOWNSHIP 37 NORTH, RANGE 13 EAST, OF THE THIRD PRINCIPAL MERIDIAN, IN COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS, APPELLEES.



No. 47294. — Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Second District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. Philip J. Locke, Judge, presiding.

No. 47477. — Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Francis T. Delaney, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE WARD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied November 21, 1975.

Gannon, Forst & Oosterbaan, of Blue Island (Peter D. Oosterbaan, of counsel), for appellants.

Burke and Weber, of Chicago (Thomas T. Burke and Robert J. Weber, of counsel), for appellees.

These appeals involve similar questions and were consolidated for argument and opinion. The questions relate to the character of the estate that a school board may acquire through an eminent domain proceeding and to the effect of the condemnation judgment.

The appeal in No. 47284, La Salle National Bank v. County Board of School Trustees of Du Page County et al., is from a judgment of the appellate court (23 Ill. App.3d 575) that La Salle National Bank (hereafter La Salle) could not in a subsequent proceeding attack an earlier condemnation judgment in favor of the County Board of School Trustees of Du Page County (Board).

The Board under its eminent domain authority (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 122, par. 10-22.35A) filed a petition in the circuit court of Du Page County to condemn a 30-acre tract of land, title to which was held by La Salle as the trustee. On September 21, 1970, the circuit court entered an order, based on a stipulation between the parties, awarding La Salle $360,000 and vesting title in fee simple in the Board. There was no appeal from this judgment. The intention of the Board to construct a school on the site was defeated when the voters of the school district voted against the proposal. Subsequently the Board, under its statutory authority (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 122, par. 5-22), determined that it would be in the best interests of the school district to sell the land at a public sale. At the sale the Board accepted the bid of Mac Diarmid-Palumbo, Inc., a defendant here, of $425,000. A bid of $360,000 by La Salle was rejected. La Salle filed suit in August 1972, in the circuit court of Du Page County in behalf of the former beneficial owners of interest in the parcel seeking to restrain the Board from transferring title to Mac Diarmid and contending that the Board did not have title in fee simple to the land. La Salle alleged that it had retained a reversionary interest in the land. The circuit court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment and La Salle appealed to the appellate court. That court, without reaching the issue of the estate that the Board acquired, held that La Salle was barred under the doctrine of res judicata from challenging the judgment of the circuit court of Du Page County which vested title in the Board. (La Salle National Bank v. County Board of School Trustees, 23 Ill. App.3d 575, 578.) We granted La Salle's petition for leave to appeal.

The circumstances of No. 47477, Pullman Bank and Trust Co., Trustee, et al., v. Trustees of Schools of Township No. 37 North etc., are similar. In September of 1957 the Trustees of Schools of Township No. 37 North (hereafter, Trustees) filed a petition in Cook County to condemn land held by Pullman Bank and Trust (Pullman) as a trustee. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1955, ch. 122, par. 7-17.) In March, 1960, a judgment was entered awarding Pullman $48,000 and vesting title in fee simple in the Trustees. There was no appeal. The land was not used as a school site, and in September, 1969, and again in May of 1970 the Trustees offered to sell the land at a public sale for a price not less than $400,000. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 122, par. 5-22.) However, the highest bid received for the land was $280,000. Pullman filed an action in November, 1969, against the Trustees in the circuit court of Cook County alleging it had retained in the land after the condemnation proceeding the same type of interest as La Salle claimed. The circuit court held for the Trustees, and in the subsequent appeal by Pullman the appellate court held that the Trustees had been given title in fee simple in the condemnation proceeding and that Pullman's subsequent questioning of the estate that was taken by the Trustees was barred under res judicata. (26 Ill. App.3d 604, 609.) We granted Pullman's petition for leave to appeal and consolidated the two appeals.

Since the questions raised and the arguments presented by the plaintiffs La Salle and Pullman are similar, we may consider them together. The plaintiffs argue that their contentions are not barred under the doctrine of res judicata because they are different from those raised in the original condemnation proceedings. They contend, too, that in an eminent domain proceeding a school board acquires not fee simple title but rather a base or determinable fee and when the acquired land is no longer used for school purposes, there is a reversion to the land's former owner. However, because of the disposition we make of the plaintiffs' first contention we shall not reach their second claim.

The records in these cases show that the circuit courts' judgments in the eminent domain actions stated that title in fee simple to the respective parcels was to be vested in the Board and the Trustees. In the La Salle action, the court's judgment order stated in part:

"To the owner or owners of and party or parties interested in said real property for the fee simple title to said property, which is legally described as follows: * * * as full compensation to the owner or owners * * * for the fee simple title to said property * * * the sum of THREE HUNDRED SIXTY THOUSAND AND NO/100 DOLLARS ($360,000)."

In the Pullman action the order declared that the court awarded to Pullman "for the taking of the fee simple title to said land, the sum of Forty Eight Thousand ($48,000.00) and no/100ths Dollars." There is nothing to show the plaintiffs sought to retain any reversionary interests and nothing to indicate that the parties and the trial court were concerned with any estate less than a fee simple. The question is whether the plaintiffs can now attack in collateral proceedings these judgments which declared the condemnors were acquiring titles in fee simple.

A fundamental statement of the doctrine of res judicata was made by this court in People v. ...


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