APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. HENRY
A. BUDZINSKI, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE LINN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
The claimant, Nora Campion, appeals from an order of the circuit court of Cook County denying her claim against the estate of Ray P. Tennes for services rendered on behalf of Tennes during November 1977 to October 1978. On appeal, claimant contends: (1) the trial court improperly applied the presumption that her services were rendered gratuitously; (2) the trial court's findings of fact and denial of her claim are against the manifest weight of the evidence; (3) the trial court improperly ruled that claimant's personal checks were inadmissible in evidence; and (4) the trial court improperly refused claimant's testimony as an expert witness.
On February 16, 1979, the claimant filed a claim in the estate of Ray P. Tennes, seeking payment allegedly due her for services rendered on behalf of the deceased, Ray P. Tennes. The amount claimed as due is $11,656.60. The services were described by claimant as follows:
"A. Personal services at $40.00/da., 5 days per week, 4.3 weeks per month, for a period of 11 months $9,460.00
B. Telephone calls made by or requested by RAY TENNES from the home of NORA CAMPION 220.00
C. Out of pocket expenses of NORA CAMPION for personal necessities requested by RAY TENNES 180.00
D. Gas, maintenance and depreciation for transportation expenses incurred by NORA CAMPION 560.00
E. Housekeeping, cleaning, decorative and secretarial services provided by NORA CAMPION in addition to personal service charges described above 855.00
F. Carpeting and padding 381.60 ____________ $11,656.60."
The claimant allegedly performed these services on behalf of Tennes from November 1977, when Tennes' wife died, to October 1978, when Tennes himself died. The claimant was related to Tennes by marriage; she was the niece of Tennes' deceased wife, Loretta Tennes.
The claimant, in addition to her own testimony, presented the testimony of two of her friends. The first friend, Patricia Gibbons, described the claimant's business, known as "Fuss Budget" as a service business operation used primarily in connection with aiding new purchasers of residences — "[t]o get somebody settled into the [new] house without the work." The claimant employed Gibbons to assist her in helping to reorganize Tennes' home after the death of his wife. Included in the services rendered by claimant on behalf of Tennes was the work entailed in going through the personal effects of his deceased wife, "reorganiz[ing] her belongings, sorting out the items [of the deceased] he wanted to keep from those he wished to sell."
Gibbons first testified that this work took place during April and May of 1978. She then stated she and the claimant worked together for four days, at least six to seven hours a day. The claimant paid her $150 for this work.
Gibbons also asserted that she saw the claimant assist in hiring and interviewing the nurses and maids who were to care for Tennes. Sometimes the claimant worked into the evening and claimant, to her knowledge, refused at least eight to ten paying customers for "Fuss Budget" because she was involved in working for Tennes. Additionally, during the period November 1977 to October 1978, the claimant had no other employment except to assist and work for Tennes.
Gibbons described the conversations she had with Tennes in the presence of the claimant. The deceased asked the witness if he had paid her, and she responded that the claimant would pay her. Sometime later, while she was at the claimant's home, Tennes telephoned the claimant. The witness answered the phone and Tennes asked her whether the claimant knew he had errands for her to do before coming to his apartment that day. At least four or five times, the witness testified, she heard Tennes tell the claimant to send the bills for the services ...