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Tripi v. Landon

OPINION FILED JANUARY 10, 1986.

AUGUST TRIPI, D/B/A A.J. PRODUCTS COMPANY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

SIGURD LANDON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Daniel P. Glecier, Judge, presiding. JUSTICE LORENZ DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant Sigurd Landon appeals from a judgment order against him for $4,057.22 and costs obtained by plaintiff August Tripi following a bench trial on plaintiff's suit to recover the cost of goods sold to the defendant. On appeal defendant contends (1) the action should have been barred by the Statute of Frauds; (2) defendant's motion for summary judgment should have been granted; (3) the evidence did not support the judgment against him, and (4) the default judgment obtained against a co-defendant, Earl Gabrielson, was contradictory.

We affirm.

The following pertinent testimony was adduced at trial.

The plaintiff, August Tripi, testified that in his 20-year-old home-based business, A.J. Products Company, he sold parts to car dealers and trucking companies. For the past nine years he had been doing business with the defendant, known to him only as Mr. Landon. Defendant's business, a cartage company, was known to plaintiff as F. Landon Cartage, and subsequently as F. Landon Leasing. Plaintiff testified that he was never advised that he was dealing with a corporation. The defendant's trucks only bore the name "F. Landon Cartage."

According to the plaintiff the defendant's business was initially at 1000 West Monroe in Chicago. At that location, the defendant had told him he should obtain orders from defendant's head mechanic, known to plaintiff as Gene. Plaintiff followed this practice there. When defendant moved his business to 2114 South May Street, defendant told the plaintiff that orders would be placed by Earl Gabrielson, apparently defendant's new head mechanic. In October and November of 1982 the plaintiff made deliveries of three sets of goods ordered by Earl Gabrielson. Plaintiff personally delivered these goods to defendant's May Street business, where he observed trucks with "F. Landon Cartage" on them. Plaintiff denied that defendant ever instructed him not to accept orders from Gabrielson.

Plaintiff mailed invoices totaling $4,057.22 to the defendant for those three orders, but defendant never paid them. In December 1982 he telephoned the defendant and asked for a meeting so he could obtain payment. Defendant gave him a time and place where they could "work out the money situation" but then never appeared at the time specified. In that telephone conversation the defendant did not deny receiving the goods, nor did he say he would not pay for them.

Louis Bajick testified that between May and November of 1982 he had assisted the plaintiff with deliveries to defendant's business. There the only names he had seen on trucks were "F. Landon" and "F. Landon Cartage."

Defendant testified that he was retired at the time of trial but had been an officer and director of five Landon corporations: F. Landon Cartage Company, F. Landon Trucking Company, Landon Truck Leasing Company (subsequently renamed Landon Interstate Limited), and Landon Truck Leasing Limited, a Wisconsin corporation. Defendant testified that F. Landon was his grandfather. He denied ever hearing of "F. Landon Cartage" or "F. Landon Leasing."

Defendant denied dealing with the plaintiff in anything but his capacity as a corporate agent. He also denied ever operating a trucking company as an individual or a sole proprietor.

Defendant testified that he was unaware of any communications from the plaintiff from May to December of 1982. The Landon businesses ceased operating at the May Street location in April 1982 because of a union strike. They vacated the premises on May 30, 1982, and never returned to that location.

Defendant testified further that Earl Gabrielson, although on the payroll, was not considered an employee for "paperwork purposes." Gabrielson would supply them with tools and would repair their trucks, receiving payment based on invoices he submitted. Defendant stated that Gabrielson had no authority to order parts or equipment on behalf of the Landon businesses. However, he also admitted that when necessary Gabrielson would be given a check and would then buy parts for them. He further conceded that plaintiff might have been paid in the past by the Landon businesses for items purchased by Gabrielson. Defendant also stated that in April 1982 he told the plaintiff that Gabrielson had no authority to place orders, and plaintiff would need written authority from the defendant for any further orders.

Defendant recalled that Earl Gabrielson ceased working for the Landon businesses after May 1982. The defendant's last conversation with the plaintiff had been in April 1982, when they settled a billing dispute for $1,000, paid with a check drawn on Landon Truck Leasing, Ltd., but signed by Sigurd Landon without any corporate title or designation by his name.

Defendant denied that he or the Landon businesses had ever received any invoices from the plaintiff for goods delivered in October or November of 1982. He also denied having a phone conversation with the plaintiff concerning these bills.

Lori Callahan, formerly a dispatcher with F. Landon Cartage Company, testified that the May Street offices were closed in May 1982. She did not recall seeing any invoices from the plaintiff. However, she also stated that it was not her duty to pick up or ...


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