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Lavine Construction Co. v. Johnson

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 13, 1981.

LAVINE CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

KATHRYN JOHNSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. EDWARD ROSENBERG, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE SULLIVAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

After a bench trial, defendant appeals the entry of a judgment against her for $5,700 in this breach of contract action. She contends that the contract was unenforceable because plaintiff failed to obtain a required permit for electrical work from the City of Chicago (City).

The contract, which was for building and electrical work in defendant's home, required the redecoration of the kitchen, the installation of windows, and the delivery and installation of electrical appliances with a wiring system to support the operation of the appliances. Plaintiff retained a subcontractor to do the electrical work at a cost of $221. Defendant complained to plaintiff that the appliances did not work and that the electrical system had been improperly installed.

Joseph Lavine, president of plaintiff, testified that all the work was completed, including the installation of the electrical system, but that defendant refused to sign a completion certificate for the work. He admitted that an electrical permit required for the work was not obtained.

Defendant's answer generally denied that plaintiff had performed the contract and, at trial, she argued inter alia that plaintiff could not enforce the contract because it was in violation of City ordinance. It appears that at the close of plaintiff's case and at the close of all the evidence, defendant moved for directed judgments, contending that plaintiff did not meet its burden of proving performance under the contract because of its failure to obtain the electrical permit required for the work. The trial court denied the motions and eventually entered judgment for the contract price of $5,700. This appeal followed:

OPINION

The sole issue before us is whether the contract in question was unenforceable because the necessary electrical permit was not obtained. Defendant relies on various provisions of the City's electrical regulations (the ordinance), particularly section 27 of chapter 86 (Municipal Code of the City of Chicago, ch. 86, par. 27 (1977)), which provides in pertinent part:

"No electrical equipment shall be installed or altered except upon a permit first issued by the bureau of electrical inspection authorizing the installation, alteration, or repair of electrical equipment.

(a) Where an electrical installation has been started prior to the issuance of a permit for such work, the normal permit fee as required by this code shall be increased by the amount of fifteen dollars ($15.00).

(b) Where a registered electrical contractor is found doing electrical work without a permit on three separate occasions in one calendar year, a hearing shall be held by the Chief Electrical Inspector at which time the permit privileges of said electrical contractor may be suspended for a period of time not to exceed one year."

In addition, section 28 of chapter 86 (Municipal Code of the City of Chicago, ch. 86, par. 28 (1977)), requiring the registration of electrical contractors, provides in relevant part:

"The bureau of electrical inspection shall issue permits for such installation and alteration of electrical equipment in all cases where application for such permit shall be made * * * provided, however, that no permit shall be issued for installing or altering by contract, electrical equipment, unless the person applying for such permit is registered as an electrical contractor * * *."

From our examination of the relevant provisions of the Municipal Code, we believe that none expressly prohibits the enforceability of contracts for failure to secure a required permit. See Municipal Code of the City of Chicago, ch. 86, pars. 27-31 (1977).

• 1 Where applicable, a municipal ordinance enters into and forms a part of a contract by operation of law. (Brooks v. Village of Wilmette (1979), 72 Ill. App.3d 753, 391 N.E.2d 133; Bethel Terrace, Inc. v. Village of Caseyville (1976), 43 Ill. App.3d 276, 356 N.E.2d 1269.) The power to enact ordinances derives from the legislature, so that an ordinance passed within the power conferred by that body has the same force and effect within the corporate limits as a State statute. (Archibald v. Board of Education (1959), 19 Ill. App.2d 554, 154 N.E.2d 867.) While it is clear that the ordinance in ...


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