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City of Chicago v. Sievert Electric Co.

OPINION FILED JUNE 21, 1985.

THE CITY OF CHICAGO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

SIEVERT ELECTRIC COMPANY ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Alfred T. Walsh, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE LORENZ DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff-appellant, the city of Chicago, appeals from the circuit court's dismissal of its suit for rent against defendants Sievert Electric Company and Paul M. Sievert. The city contends that the trial court erred in finding for defendants on two independent grounds: (1) that the city had failed to allege that it had made a written demand for possession, (2) that the city should be estopped from obtaining rent because its actions had misled defendants into believing that they need not seek an alternative site for their plant outside of Chicago.

We affirm.

The city's complaint alleged that on April 29, 1981, it had filed a suit to acquire defendants' property (located in Chicago at 1325-51 North Bauwans and 1334 North Ashland Avenue) by eminent domain. On May 17, 1982, a judgment order was entered by the Honorable Alfred T. Walsh (nunc pro tunc to May 6, 1982) vesting fee simple absolute title in the city upon its payment of the just compensation already determined by the jury. On June 8, 1982, the city acquired title by depositing the requested amount with the county treasurer of Cook County for the benefit of Sievert Electric Company.

On June 28, 1982, the city requested in writing that Sievert pay a monthly rental fee to the city, effective July 1, 1982, for the use of the property. On July 7, 1982, and again on July 14, 1982, the city sent its "standard lease agreement" to Sievert requiring a monthly payment. Sievert failed to sign the lease agreement and refused to pay any rent although it used and occupied the property until December 1982.

In its complaint the city sought $21,954 in rent for the six-month period of July 1982 to December 1982. The city also sought costs and attorney fees.

Defendants filed two motions to dismiss. One motion, filed pursuant to section 2-615 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 110, par. 2-615) asserted that the city had failed to allege that it had made a written demand for possession. Defendants contend that such a demand is a prerequisite to a suit for rent when title has been acquired through judicial judgment, citing section 9-201(4) of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 110, par. 9-201(4)).

In their second motion to dismiss, filed pursuant to the involuntary dismissal provisions of section 2-619 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 110, par. 2-619), defendants alleged that the city led defendants to believe they would be able to relocate to another site in the city. However, after a series of negotiations the city failed to respond to defendants' offer to purchase the substitute land. Defendants alleged that their action forced them to stay in their old facilities for several months after the completion of the eminent domain proceeding. On this ground defendants urged that the court "should not allow the City to benefit by this improper action" and should dismiss the suit. The motion was not originally supported by affidavit despite the requirement of section 2-619 that this be done when the grounds of the motion do not appear on the face of the pleading attached. However, on the day of the hearing on these motions Judge Walsh (to whom the cause was ultimately assigned) entered an order reciting that by agreement of the parties, defendants' section 2-619 motion was amended to include the verification of Paul M. Sievert, nunc pro tunc as of May 13, 1981, the date that motion was filed. The actual affidavit has not been included in the record on appeal.

At the hearing on defendants' motion to dismiss, Paul M. Sievert testified that Sievert Electric was currently located in Melrose Park. It had previously conducted business at the Chicago location for 69 years.

In September of 1977, Richard W. Albrecht, the city's deputy project planning coordinator, and Robert Littlebridge, director of economic planning for the city's department of planning, visited Sievert's office and told him he should not proceed with his published plans for further expansion of his plant there because of the city's proposed development of the area. They offered the city's assistance in helping Sievert to relocate elsewhere in Chicago. Sievert agreed to cooperate.

In early 1980 Sievert had a series of meetings with city officials concerning a substitute site in Chicago. The city furnished him with a list of possible sites. After inspecting and evaluating them, Sievert determined that one would suit his needs.

Sievert testified that he did not look for other sites because he believed the city would cooperate with him in obtaining the substitute site.

After the city filed its condemnation suit in April 1981, Sievert continued to meet with city officials about the site he had selected. At the city's request he presented architectural plans of what he proposed. On December 7, 1981, he formally presented the city with an offer to purchase the land.

After the offer was made Sievert again met with city officials about the project. He continued to believe that the city would respond to the offer; however, the city never did so. At one point prior to the trial of the condemnation action the city's economic development commission was ordered by the court to respond one way or the other to the offer. Sievert went to their offices, but the commission was unavailable. Even after the ...


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