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Redfern v. Sullivan

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 23, 1982.

THERON REDFERN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

MARIAN SULLIVAN, INDIV. AND AS EX'R OF THE WILLIAM PAUL SULLIVAN ESTATE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Moultrie County; the Hon. Worthy B. Kranz, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE MILLS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

We deal here with res judicata, injunctive relief, and possession to farmland.

It's a mixed bag: affirmed in part and reversed in part.

But first — the procedural facts.

Redfern brought an action seeking injunctive relief or, in the alternative, damages for breach of an oral lease of certain farmland. He alleged that defendants are the owners of a tract of farmland and that he is in possession of this tract. He alleged that W. Paul Sullivan, acting as agent for the defendants, entered into an oral lease of this farmland with him. He agreed to provide machinery, equipment, and labor for the purpose of farming defendants' land. The defendants agreed to pay him according to a schedule of rates published annually in The Prairie Farmer. The term of the lease ran from March 1 to February 28 and had been reaffirmed each year for a period of several years.

W. Paul Sullivan died in November 1981. In January 1982, plaintiff was notified by letter that defendants had decided to terminate the "relationship." Based upon these allegations, plaintiff, in counts I and II of his amended complaint, sought injunctive relief to restrain defendants from taking possession of the land or otherwise breach the lease. In counts III and IV, plaintiff realleged the same basic facts but requested damages.

Defendants moved to dismiss the amended complaint. They argued that plaintiff failed to allege that his remedy at law was inadequate or that he would be irreparably harmed if the injunction were not granted. Defendants further contended that the facts set forth in plaintiff's complaint failed to establish that a landlord-tenant relationship existed between the parties.

The trial court entered an order on May 11, 1982, dismissing counts I and II of plaintiff's amended complaint with prejudice. The trial court also dismissed counts III and IV with prejudice as to defendants McLaughlin & Hargis, Inc., and Thomas Hargis while granting plaintiff leave to amend counts III and IV as to the remaining defendants. The trial court also held that plaintiff had no right of possession in the property in question. A finding pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 304(a) (87 Ill.2d R. 304(a)) was made by the trial court.

Plaintiff appealed from the entry of the order dismissing counts I and II. While that portion of the case was on appeal, plaintiff filed a "second amended complaint" pursuant to the leave granted by the trial court in its order of May 11. The "second amended complaint" contained one count seeking money damages for the alleged breach of the farm lease. Defendants moved to dismiss and the trial court dismissed the "second amended complaint" with prejudice on July 9, 1982. No appeal has been taken from that order.

MOTION TO DISMISS

Defendants then filed a motion to dismiss this appeal — which we have taken with the case — on the ground that it had become moot because of the actions of the trial court subsequent to the filing of the notice of appeal. Defendants argue that the allegations of counts I and II of plaintiff's amended complaint and the allegations contained in plaintiff's "second amended complaint" are substantially the same and arise from a common nucleus of facts. They contend that the dismissal with prejudice of plaintiff's "second amended complaint" was a conclusive determination of the facts and issues presented in that complaint. Therefore, defendants argue, since the claims are based upon a common nucleus of facts and arise from the same transaction, the res judicata effect of the later dismissal has caused this appeal to become moot.

RES JUDICATA

Res judicata is a doctrine which reflects the public policy favoring finality in litigation and judicial economy. (Smith v. Bishop (1962), 26 Ill.2d 434, 187 N.E.2d 217.) The doctrine of res judicata is divided into two branches: estoppel by judgment, sometimes referred to as res judicata, and estoppel by verdict, also known as collateral estoppel. Hassett Storage Warehouse, Inc. v. Board of Election Commissioners (1979), 69 Ill. App.3d 972, 387 N.E.2d 785.

• 1 Estoppel by judgment (res judicata) provides that a valid judgment in a previous action between the parties bars a subsequent action between those parties on the same claim or cause of action. The doctrine applies not only to those issues which were actually raised in the first proceeding, but also to any issues which might have been raised in that proceeding. (Kahler v. Don E. Williams Co. (1978), 59 Ill. App.3d 716, 375 N.E.2d 1034.) Where estoppel by verdict (or collateral estoppel) is applied, the parties are precluded from relitigating an issue in a subsequent proceeding where that issue was actually or necessarily decided by a court of competent jurisdiction in an earlier proceeding involving the same parties and a different cause of action. Smith v. Bishop; Fred Olson Motor Service v. Container Corp. (1980), 81 Ill. App.3d 825, 401 N.E.2d 1098; see also ...


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