Appeal from the Circuit Court of Will County; the Hon. Thomas
W. Vinson, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE SCOTT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Rehearing denied September 19, 1983.
The plaintiff, Will County Water Company, is a public utility organized under the laws of the State of Illinois. Its business is to provide sewage treatment service and public water supplies. Its activities are regulated by the Illinois Commerce Commission, as are the activities of all public utilities.
In 1975, the plaintiff entered into a contract with the defendant, the village of Shorewood, to provide sewage treatment services, which contract provides in pertinent part:
"After 250 homes, Troy Grade School and existing commercial establishments have been connected to the Village system, as provided above, the company will provide waste water treatment, if and when sewer plant capacity is available, taking into account the Company's other obligation to provide service, for up to an additional fifty homes, or equivalent, connected to the Village system during any twelve month period." (Emphasis added.)
In September 1979, the plaintiff sent a letter to the defendant stating that it would provide waste water treatment service to no additional customers. After receiving that letter, the defendant village added four additional residences to the sewer system. The plaintiff public utility brought suit seeking a judgment to declare the rights of the parties under the contract and seeking an injunction prohibiting all further connections to the sewer mains in the village of Shorewood. The defendant counterclaims, seeking a money judgment for amounts it alleged was due under the terms of the same contract.
The circuit court of Will County, in a judgment order which declared the rights of the parties under the contract, found that the defendant village had no right to demand that additional homes be connected to the village sewer system which was serviced by the plaintiff utility. At the same time, the circuit court refused to order injunctive relief to prevent any further connections to the sewer system, and the circuit court entered a money judgment for the defendant on its counterclaim. The village appeals that part of the circuit court order which declared the rights of the parties under the contract.
Two issues raised by the appellant village in its oral and written arguments before this court appeared to misconstrue the order of the circuit court previously entered in this cause. The village contends that injunctive relief is available in contract cases only where the contracts are clear, definite and certain, that is free of any ambiguity in language. The village also contends that injunctive relief is only available upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence of irreparable harm. In presenting both of these contentions for our review, the appellant urges that the contract was not free of ambiguity, but rather was subject to differing interpretations, and that there was no showing of irreparable harm, let alone such a showing by clear and convincing proof. The village concludes, therefore, that the circuit court erred in granting injunctive relief.
Whether the village is correct in its contentions that injunctive relief will not lie based upon the record before us is a matter we need not determine, for a careful reading of the lower court order discloses that no injunctive relief was ordered. In its memorandum opinion, the circuit judge states that
"The First Amended Complaint of plaintiff prays, in paragraph A, B and C, for a declaration of the rights of the parties, and this court has done so above. Specifically as to paragraph C, this court finds that it was contrary to the terms of the contract for the Village to allow additional sewer connections after service of the notice by defendant company that the company had insufficient available waste treatment capacity to accommodate such new users. But as to paragraphs D, E and F, this court refuses to issue injunctive relief, for reasons stated above, and for the additional reason that, having declared the rights of the parties in regard to the issues herein, this court feels that injunctive relief is unnecessary."
Since we interpret the circuit court order as granting no injunctive relief, we believe the appellant's arguments concerning the standards for granting such relief are inapplicable to the facts before us.
An additional argument proffered by the appellant is grounded on the public policy of the State of Illinois regarding public utilities as set forth in sections 32 and 38 of the Public Utility Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 111 2/3, pars. 32, 38). Section 32 states in part the duty of public utilities:
"Every public utility shall furnish, provide and maintain such service instrumentalities, equipment and facilities as shall promote the safety, health, comfort and convenience of its patrons, employees, and public and as shall be in all respects adequate, efficient, ...