Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Barton Chemical Corp. v. Hertz Corp.

OPINION FILED AUGUST 26, 1977.

BARTON CHEMICAL CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

THE HERTZ CORPORATION ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. FRANCIS T. DELANEY, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE MEJDA DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff, Barton Chemical Corporation (Barton), brought separate actions against defendants, Hertz Corporation (Hertz), Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. (Avis), National Car Rental System, Inc. (National), and Chicago Budget Rent-A-Car Corporation (Budget), seeking an injunction and other relief both individually and on behalf of all other persons who had rented cars from defendants' O'Hare Airport facilities. The four actions were consolidated. Plaintiff appeals from an order of the trial court which struck and dismissed the class action allegations of the complaints.

• 1 The sole issue which we must reach on review is whether those persons who, during the past five years, have entered into car rental agreements at O'Hare with any of the four defendants constitute a single class so as to be properly represented by a named plaintiff in a class action suit.

Barton's action is based on the alleged violation of certain provisions contained in the Airport Concession Agreements entered into by defendants with the City of Chicago (City). Hertz, Avis and National severally entered such agreements in 1972, and Budget executed its agreement in 1974. Article VII of the agreements, upon which Barton bases its action, provides in pertinent part as follows:

"A. Schedule of Rates. Prior to furnishing any rent-a-car services to the public under this Agreement, Concessionaire shall prepare and submit to the Commissioner of Aviation for written approval all schedules of rates for said services and discounts and rebates therefrom, which schedules shall be comparable with prices and charges prevailing in the City of Chicago. Any changes thereafter made in an approved schedule shall be similarly submitted to the Commissioner of Aviation for prior written approval. All such schedules shall be made available to the public by Concessionaire, to which schedules Concessionaire agrees to adhere. If Concessionaire applies any rate in excess of the approved rates or extends a discount less than the approved discount, the amount by which the charge based on such actual rate or actual discount deviates from a charge based on the approved rates or discounts shall constitute an over-charge which will, upon demand of the Commissioner of Aviation or Concessionaire's customer, be promptly refunded to said customer. If Concessionaire applies any rate which is less than the approved rate or extends a discount which is in excess of the approved discount, the amount by which the charge based on such actual rate or actual discount deviates from a charge based on the approved rates or discounts shall constitute an under-charge and an amount equivalent thereto shall be included in gross receipts hereunder and the percentage fee shall be payable in respect thereto."

Barton, through its vice president and director, John Deamer, rented a car for a one-day period from each defendant at the O'Hare facility, on separate days in early June of 1975. On June 13, Barton filed four class action complaints in the circuit court of Cook County, each naming one of the four car rental agencies as defendant. Each complaint alleged that Barton had cause to use defendant's rental services at O'Hare and was charged in excess of the charges prevailing at other locations in the City for such services. The complaints further alleged that each defendant, in contravention of its concession agreement, has been (1) operating its rental facilities at O'Hare without preparing and submitting to the Commissioner of Aviation for approval schedules of rates for services, and (2) charging substantially in excess of the prices and charges for comparable rent-a-car services prevailing elsewhere in the City.

In its requested relief in each complaint Barton, both individually and as representative of the class plaintiffs, sought, inter alia: (1) injunctive relief restraining each defendant from operating at O'Hare until rate schedules are filed for approval, and further restraining each defendant from charging any rate at O'Hare in the future which is in excess of the comparable rates prevailing elsewhere in the City; (2) an order that each defendant file retroactive schedules of rates for services for all charges made in the past at O'Hare while operating under its concession agreement; and (3) an accounting for and refund to individual plaintiff and class plaintiffs of the past excess overcharges, "from the commencement date of the concession agreement to the date that they cease this illegal practice * * *."

The four separate actions against defendants were consolidated and each defendant moved to dismiss the class action allegations of Barton's complaints. By order of the trial court, discovery was conducted by both sides only as to the class action issues raised by defendants' motions to dismiss, and thereafter a succession of hearings were held. By order dated April 7, 1976, the trial court granted defendants' motions, and the class action allegations were stricken and dismissed with prejudice. The trial court found no just reason for delaying enforcement or appeal thereof, and Barton now appeals this order.

OPINION

We find the rationale of the recent Illinois Supreme Court decision in Magro v. Continental Toyota, Inc. (1977), 67 Ill.2d 157, 365 N.E.2d 328, applicable to the instant case. In Magro the court noted:

"The narrow question before us is whether the record establishes that the claims of the plaintiff and other members of the purported class were sufficiently similar to permit maintenance of the suit as a class action. The general rule is that a class action cannot be maintained unless all members of the class have a common interest in the questions involved and the results of the suit. (Hagerty v. General Motors Corp. (1974), 59 Ill.2d 52; Fiorito v. Jones (1968), 39 Ill.2d 531; Harrison Sheet Steel Co. v. Lyons (1959), 15 Ill.2d 532; Newberry Library v. Board of Education (1944), 387 Ill. 85; Peoples Store of Roseland v. McKibbin (1942), 379 Ill. 148.) As we stated in Adams v. Jewel Companies, Inc. (1976), 63 Ill.2d 336, 347: `Necessary prerequisites to maintenance of such action are the existence of common questions which dominate the controversy and pertain to each class member and an interest in a common result.'" (67 Ill.2d 157, 161, 365 N.E.2d 328, 330.)

Substantially similar questions were also considered by our supreme court in Hagerty v. General Motors Corp. (1974), 59 Ill.2d 52, 319 N.E.2d 5. In Magro, as in Hagerty, the court concluded that the requisite common interest of the purported class was lacking inasmuch as a decision sustaining the individual plaintiff's contention as to his transaction with defendant would not establish a right of recovery in any other members of the class.

• 2 A key requirement, therefore, for allowing a class action in Illinois is whether successful adjudication of the purported class representative's individual claim will establish a right of recovery in any other class members. Application of this principle in the instant case mandates affirmance of the order of the trial court striking and dismissing the allegations of Barton's complaint which failed to state a cause of action justifying the class action relief.

Barton contends that the only requisite for establishing a right to recovery in the instant case is that defendants charge in excess of the approved rates. Having alleged that defendants never filed rate schedules for approval, Barton argues further that the right of recovery, both individually and as to each class member, "flows ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.