APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RICHARD
L. CURRY, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE WILSON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Plaintiff brought suit seeking a declaratory judgment that the Illinois Purchasing Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 127, par. 132.1 et seq.) gave it the right to bid for and be awarded the 1979-80 fiscal year Illinois license plates. After the trial court heard arguments, it entered an order granting plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings and denying defendants' motion for summary judgment. On appeal, defendants contend that the court misinterpreted section 10.1 of the Illinois Purchasing Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 127, par. 132.10-1) in entering its order. We reverse.
Section 10.1, which became effective October 1, 1977, provides:
"No person or business entity shall be awarded a contract or subcontract if that person or business entity: (a) has been convicted of bribery or attempting to bribe an officer or employee of the State of Illinois in that officer or employee's official capacity; or (b) has made an admission of guilt of such conduct which is a matter of record but has not been prosecuted for such conduct.
For purposes of this Section, where an official, agent, or employee of a business entity committed the bribery or attempted bribery on behalf of such an entity and pursuant to the direction or authorization of a responsible official thereof, the business entity shall be chargeable with the conduct." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 127, par. 132.10-1.)
This section of the Illinois Purchasing Act recently has been found constitutional in another case involving the same parties as are involved in the present suit. (Polyvend, Inc. v. Puckorius (1979), 77 Ill.2d 287, 395 N.E.2d 1376, appeal dismissed (1980), 444 U.S. 1062, 62 L.Ed.2d 744, 100 S.Ct. 1001 (hereafter Polyvend I).) Nevertheless, that case did not specifically deal with the question of whether section 10.1 prohibits the awarding of a State contract to a business entity after the death of the agent or officer whose wrongful act was the cause of the section's application. That question is the question raised in this appeal.
In March of 1974, J. Patrick Stoltz was convicted of bribing an Illinois State official while serving as both president and controlling stockholder of Metal Stamping Corporation (hereafter Metal Stamping). At the same time, all charges against Metal Stamping were dismissed. Subsequently, Metal Stamping changed its name to plaintiff, Polyvend, Inc., which had been the name of a corporation whose stock had been wholly owned by Metal Stamping and which had recently merged with Metal Stamping. Stoltz remained a controlling stockholder of the corporation when it changed its name to plaintiff. He died on December 18, 1977, after having served his sentence for the bribery conviction. After his death, defendants invited plaintiff to bid for the contract to manufacture the 1979-1980 fiscal year Illinois license plates and the 1980 miscellaneous plates. Pursuant to this invitation, plaintiff submitted a bid which ultimately proved to be the lowest bid for the contract. Nevertheless, defendants rejected the bid on the sole ground that section 10.1 forbade the awarding of contracts to plaintiff because of Stoltz's conviction of bribery.
After defendants' rejection of the bid, plaintiff brought suit against them seeking, among other relief, a declaration that section 10.1 did not debar it from being awarded a State contract after Stoltz's death. After the trial court heard arguments, it granted plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings and denied defendants' motion for summary judgment. In so doing, the court stated:
"1. Section 10-1 cannot be the basis for denying the award to Polyvend of the contracts to manufacture the 1980 miscellaneous license plates and the 1979-1980 fiscal year license plates for the State of Illinois, which contracts are the subject of Polyvend's bid dated November 29, 1978; and
2. The application of Section 10-1 to Polyvend after the death of J. Patrick Stoltz be and hereby is declared to be unconstitutional."
This appeal follows from the entry of that order.
Defendants contend that section 10.1 continues to be applicable to a corporation after the death of the agent or officer whose wrongful act was the cause of the statute's application. They base their contention on the belief that the clear language and purpose of the section warrant such continued application to the corporation after the death of its agent. Plaintiff, on the other hand, argues that such continued application is not warranted by the language or purpose of the section and would lead to unjust and absurd consequences.
The claims of the parties raise a question as to the meaning of section 10.1 of the Illinois Purchasing Act. Over 65 years ago, the Illinois Supreme Court in Wall v. Pfanschmidt (1914), 265 Ill. 180, 190-91, 106 N.E. 785, 788-89, set forth the ...