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Estate of Constas v. Constas

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 10, 1976.

ESTATE OF JAMES CONSTAS, DECEASED, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,

v.

WILLIAM CONSTAS, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ANTHONY J. KOGUT, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE DRUCKER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Respondent appeals from a verdict and judgment awarding one-half of the funds contained in a safe-deposit box to the estate of his deceased brother.

Respondent and his brother were co-owners of a restaurant and were also joint lessees of three safe-deposit boxes located at various financial institutions in Chicago. The funds now in issue were in a box located at North Federal Savings and Loan Association. After the brother's death, the contents of the box were examined by an official of the Illinois Treasurer's office, and $22,986 was found. Shortly thereafter respondent removed these funds. Only $60 was found in the other two boxes.

Petitioner filed suit to recover one-half of the funds which were found at North Federal and also for portions of funds which were alleged to have been in the other boxes and which were claimed to be the decedent's property at the time of his death. After a jury trial, a verdict for petitioner was returned in the amount of $11,493 which represented one-half of the funds found at North Federal Savings.

Seven special interrogatories were submitted to the jury at respondent's request. The interrogatories asked:

"Does the Jury find from the evidence that at the time of the death of James Constas the said James Constas was the owner of the sum of $11,439.00 in a safe deposit box at North Federal Savings and Loan Association of Chicago to which both Bill Constas and James Constas had access?

Does the Jury find from the evidence that at the time of the death of James Constas there was the sum of $27,300.00 in a safe deposit box at National Security Bank of Chicago to which both Bill Constas and James Constas had access?

Does the Jury find from the evidence that at the time of the death of James Constas there was the sum of $13,650.00 which was the property of James Constas in the National Security Bank safe deposit box?

Does the Jury find from the evidence that after the death of James Constas the respondent, Bill Constas, removed the sum of $27,240.00 from the safe deposit box?

Does the Jury find from the evidence that at the time of the death of James Constas there was the sum of $25,000.00 in a safe deposit box at First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Chicago to which both Bill Constas and James Constas had access?

Does the Jury find from the evidence that at the time of the death of James Constas there was the sum of $12,500.00 which was the property of James Constas in the First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Chicago safe deposit box?

Does the Jury find from the evidence that after the death of James Constas the respondent, Bill Constas, removed the sum of $25,000.00 from the safe deposit box?"

The jury answered "yes" in response to the first question and "no" to the last six, thus finding that decedent did own one-half of the funds at North Federal but did not have any funds in the other boxes at the time of his death. The answers to the seven interrogatories were therefore consistent with the general verdict.

Since a cross-appeal has not been filed, we direct our attention solely to the propriety of the verdict awarding one-half of the contents of the box at North Federal Savings to petitioner. Although respondent has raised several contentions on appeal, ...


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