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Stuart v. Continental Ill. Nat'l Bank





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Francis T. Delaney, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied March 30, 1979.

This appeal is a sequel to Stuart v. Continental Illinois National Bank & Trust Co. (1977), 68 Ill.2d 502. Upon remand by that opinion, Elizabeth Stuart and the Illinois Institute of Technology (hereinafter IIT) sought to recover "increases, gains, income or profits" accumulating after June 30, 1971, on the $3.5 million granted IIT by the earlier opinion of this court. The circuit court of Cook County dismissed the petition and ruled that only the $3.5 million should be distributed to IIT.

The primary issue posed now by Miss Stuart and IIT is whether our earlier opinion gave IIT a right to interest, dating from June 30, 1971, on its grant of $3.5 million. We hold that the $3.5 million grant is the total amount to which IIT is entitled.

The protracted litigation involving the will of Harold Stuart has been recounted in earlier proceedings (see 68 Ill.2d 502; Northern Trust Co. v. Continental Illinois National Bank & Trust Co. (1976), 43 Ill. App.3d 169), and this particular appeal does not require a complete restatement of those facts. Harold Stuart died on June 30, 1966, leaving a substantial estate. His will provided for the creation of a large charitable trust, with his two sisters and the Continental Bank as trustees. The trustees had the power to designate the charities to whom the assets of the estate would be distributed. Under the provisions of that trust, the bank could veto any distribution ordered by the two sisters. The trustees were unable to agree on a distribution plan, so the circuit court was called on to establish a plan of distribution. The court adopted almost the entire plan submitted by the bank. The two sisters had requested that three-fourths of the trust go to IIT, while the plan approved by the court called for much wider distribution.

In our earlier opinion we examined three major issues relevant to this appeal. First, we found that the bank had wrongfully distributed $250,000 to an unqualified charity, and we ordered the money returned, with interest, to the trust. Second, we found that the bank and the two sisters had both designated an additional distribution of $3.5 million to IIT. We ordered disbursement of that amount to IIT. Third, we found that any excess funds should be distributed according to the plan as set forth by the circuit court. Our opinion had, accordingly, dealt with all funds available for distribution. We remanded that case for entry of appropriate orders.

On the remand, Miss Stuart and IIT filed a petition for accounting which asked the bank to supply information on all increases, gains, income or profits, accruing after June 30, 1971, on the $3.5 million, and asked that an order be entered directing the bank to distribute that money to IIT. The circuit court dismissed that petition and a direct appeal under Rule 302(b) (58 Ill.2d R. 302(b)) was granted.

In the earlier opinion of this court, it was clearly stated:

"We hold, therefore, that upon remand an order be entered directing that an additional $3.5 million of the estate be distributed to IIT." (Stuart v. Continental Illinois National Bank & Trust Co. (1977), 68 Ill.2d 502, 536.)

It is impossible to negate every possible issue in an opinion and therefore the rule is that "[w]here * * * the directions of a reviewing court are specific, a positive duty devolves upon the court to which the cause is remanded to enter an order or decree in accordance with the directions contained in the mandate. Precise and unambiguous directions in a mandate must be obeyed." (Thomas v. Durchslag (1951), 410 Ill. 363, 365.) While we did not specifically exclude an increase of the IIT grant in the earlier opinion, neither did we include it, and we specifically directed that $3.5 million be distributed to IIT. In contrast, our earlier opinion specifically provided for interest on the $250,000 the Continental Bank would be required to return to the trust (68 Ill.2d 502, 526). The circuit court followed our instructions and was correct in dismissing a claim for additional funds.

Our earlier opinion effectively distributed all the proceeds of the Stuart trust. On that appeal, IIT contended that the trial court, in adopting its plan for distribution, had erred in not including IIT in the pro rata distribution of $6.5 million of the funds in excess of the amount required to satisfy all specific grants. Monies in excess of the specific grants were ordered to be distributed to designated group 1 and group 2 charities, as established in the distribution plan, on a pro rata basis. We specifically limited IIT's grant to $3.5 million by holding that they were to receive none of the excess funds. As we stated, "IIT is the only other charity which is precluded from taking a pro rata share of the excess funds, and the court [the initial trial court] could well have concluded that IIT's share of the estate was already of sufficient size." (68 Ill.2d 502, 538.) The $6.5 million included interest or earnings that could well have been attributed to the $3.5 million which this court held should be distributed to IIT. When the matter was presented to the circuit court for a plan of distribution, the $3.5 million was not a segregated fund but was a part of the total assets of the estate, for which the court was asked to form a plan of distribution. Plaintiffs had, at one time, stated in writing that IIT should receive $3.5 million in addition to that which had previously been distributed to it. However, when that amount was agreed to by the bank, plaintiffs insisted that IIT should receive three-fourths of the total estate. Although in our previous opinion we characterize the bank's action of withdrawing its proposal of the additional grant as "arbitrary and unreasonable" (68 Ill.2d 502, 536), it should be noted that, at the time of the withdrawal, plaintiffs did not agree to a distribution to IIT of only an additional $3.5 million. The court was then called upon by both parties to formulate a plan of distribution of the entire fund. This the court did, excluding IIT from any share in the accumulated excess. Our opinion stated that we could not say that the circuit court's holding in adopting this plan was inequitable or contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. The present contention of the plaintiffs is, in effect, asking this court to reconsider at least a part of the distribution plan which we have previously approved.

IIT suggests that our finding that "the circuit court erred in its denial of the relief requested by plaintiff IIT in count III" (68 Ill.2d 502, 533) gave IIT a vested right to the $3.5 million retroactive to June 30, 1971. IIT argues that because it had a vested right to the money, it had a right to the accumulated interest on that money. In particular, it relies on article V(e) of the Stuart will, which provides:

"[T]he Executors shall, prior to the expiration of such period of five (5) years after my death, select in writing the qualified charitable organizations to take hereunder and the proportion of my estate each such organization is to receive, and the interest of each such ...

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