APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Peoria County; the Hon.
STEPHEN J. COVEY, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE SCOTT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
In August 1968, the conservator of the estate of Edna Keach, an incompetent, brought suit in the Circuit Court of Peoria County against Adele Hoffman. The conservator sought to recover funds allegedly owned by Keach which had been converted by Hoffman, and in the same action the conservator sought to set aside a certain deed from Keach to Hoffman wherein the grantor reserved a life estate for herself. This lawsuit, the first of two which provide the factual background for the instant case, was terminated with the death of the incompetent on May 21, 1979. Hoffman was the sole beneficiary of the incompetent's estate. The second lawsuit was filed in August 1971 by Adele Hoffman and named Mary A. Mettes and William Stiles as defendants. According to allegations in that 1971 complaint, Hoffman received advice from Mettes during the pendency of the 1968 action that a substantial judgment could be entered against her. It was further alleged that Mettes urged Hoffman to convert all of her bank accounts to cash for safekeeping with Mettes. According to Hoffman $222,000 was turned over to Mettes and Stiles pursuant to this plan. After the 1968 action by the conservator was terminated, Mettes and Stiles refused to return the money in their safekeeping, resulting in the second court action.
In the 1971 suit of Hoffman v. Mettes and Stiles, the defendants were represented by attorney Richard E. Quinn. After negotiations between the parties and their attorneys a stipulation was entered on June 4, 1980, whereby Hoffman was to receive $125,000 in cash and a quitclaim deed releasing the life estate of Mettes in a certain 250-acre Peoria County farm. By the same agreement Mettes received certain leasehold rights in the 250 acres.
Thirteen days after the stipulation was filed with the court Hoffman filed a petition for rule to show cause which recited the following allegations:
"Your Petitioner, ADELE HOFFMAN, respectfully represents unto the Court:
1. That she is Plaintiff in the above-entitled cause.
2. That on August 17, 1971, a Complaint was filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court charging Defendants, MARY METTES and WILLIAM STILES, with unlawfully obtaining from Plaintiff the sum of Two Hundred Twenty-two Thousand Dollars ($222,000.00) in U.S. currency.
3. That thereafter Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) of said money was recovered from the premises of Defendant, WILLIAM STILES, commonly known as 2410 Lincoln Avenue, Peoria, Illinois.
4. That on August 28, 1972, Defendants filed an Answer to Plaintiff's Complaint denying the charges alleged in Plaintiff's Complaint.
5. That on December 21, 1971, Defendant, MARY A. METTES, under oath and in response to oral interrogatories propounded by SAMUEL G. HARROD, Esq., Attorney for Plaintiff, further denied that she had any knowledge of the Two Hundred Seventeen Thousand Dollars ($217,000.00) rightfully belonging to Plaintiff.
6. That on June 4, 1974, this cause was reached for Trial; however, a certain Agreement was entered into between the parties, which Agreement is part of this Record, a copy of which is attached hereto and made a part hereof, at which time Defendants, MARY A. METTES and WILLIAM STILES, further denied any knowledge of the Two Hundred Seventeen Thousand Dollars ($217,000.00) rightfully belonging to Plaintiff.
7. Your Petitioner has since learned that on Wednesday, June 12, 1974, said Defendants did present themselves at the MID-CITY NATIONAL BANK OF CHICAGO, 801 West Madison Street, Chicago, Illinois, and cashed ten (10) one thousand dollar bills, four (4) of which have specifically been identified as those delivered to Plaintiff, ADELE HOFFMAN, by the PROSPECT NATIONAL BANK, Peoria, Illinois on August 11, 1971, bearing serial numbers G00197963A, G00046800A, G00036538A, and G00006445A, same being the property of Plaintiff.
8. Petitioner has further been informed that said Defendants, MARY A. METTES and WILLIAM STILES, appeared at the MID-CITY NATIONAL BANK OF CHICAGO, on Friday, June 14, 1974, in an endeavor to cash Twenty-five (25) one thousand dollar bills."
The petition proceeded to request that the court void the stipulated agreement previously entered into by the parties, suggesting that the alleged misrepresentations of Mettes provided a basis for such action. Further, Hoffman's petition sought to have Mettes and Stiles found in contempt of court. After a hearing on Hoffman's petition and the allegations contained ...