Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

People Gas Light & Coke Co. v. Austin

OPINION FILED AUGUST 12, 1986.

PEOPLES GAS LIGHT & COKE COMPANY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

SONDRA A. AUSTIN, D/B/A HALSTED REALTY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Mary Hooton, Judge, presiding. JUSTICE STAMOS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff, Peoples Gas Light and Coke Company (Peoples Gas), appeals from an order granting defendants' motions for judgments on the pleadings.

According to the plaintiff, on August 9, 1972, Peoples Gas established an account in the name of Halsted Realty to supply gas service to an apartment building at 7816 South Cornell Avenue, Chicago. On October 7, 1975, the defendants formed a corporation known as Petite Cornell Apartments, Inc. Plaintiff alleges that the corporation purchased the building at 7816 South Cornell from the principals of Halsted Realty. Unaware of the change in ownership, plaintiff continued to supply gas service to the apartment building under the account of Halsted Realty. Defendants made payments for gas service on the Halsted Realty account, and on March 16, 1978, defendant Frances Stokes allegedly entered into an agreement to make past-due payments on behalf of Halsted Realty. On May 15, 1978, after the arrearage in the account had grown to $10,225.31, plaintiff terminated gas service to the apartment building.

On October 19, 1978, plaintiff filed a lawsuit against defendant Sondra Austin. Plaintiff alleged that Austin had contracted for gas service, but despite numerous demands, she refused to pay an arrearage of $10,255.31. In the alternative, plaintiff claimed that there was an account stated between the parties and that Austin was indebted to Peoples Gas for $10,225.31.

On January 16, 1979, plaintiff amended its complaint, but stated the same allegations against Sondra Austin that it had made in its first complaint. Plaintiff changed the caption, however, to add Frances Stokes as a defendant and to reflect that Austin was doing business as Halsted Realty. Plaintiff also claims that it included in its amended complaint a payment agreement executed by Frances Stokes on behalf of Halsted Realty.

Plaintiff made several unsuccessful attempts to serve Austin. Finally, Austin was served, and she filed an answer to plaintiff's first amended complaint on April 27, 1982. In her answer, Austin denied that gas service was rendered to her at her request, denied that she was indebted to plaintiff, and denied that she had guaranteed payment of any debt to plaintiff. Defendant Stokes was not served with a summons in connection with the first amended complaint.

After Austin had answered plaintiff's complaint, she and plaintiff engaged in discovery. Plaintiff contends that as a result of Austin's testimony in a deposition, it became aware of facts that gave rise to new causes of action against defendants. Consequently, on September 1, 1983, plaintiff filed a second amended complaint against Austin and Stokes. The second amended complaint contained four counts. Count I charged that Austin and Stokes had conspired to fraudulently induce plaintiff to provide natural gas service to the property at 7816 South Cornell. Count II alleged that defendants were unjustly enriched because they received gas service for which they did not pay, and plaintiff asked the court to "pierce the veil" of limited liability enjoyed by defendants as shareholders and officers of Petite Cornell Apartments, Inc. Count III alleged that defendants had violated their non-delegable statutory duty to provide heat to their tenants. Finally, count IV alleged that there was an account stated between the parties for unpaid gas service. Plaintiff prayed for damages of $10,255.31 in each count of its complaint.

Austin filed an answer to the second amended complaint in which she denied liability. Austin admitted, however, that she had failed to notify plaintiff of the change in ownership of the apartment building at 7816 Cornell and that she had failed to object to any of the billing statements she received from plaintiff. She also conceded that if plaintiff had supplied gas service to the apartments at 7816 Cornell the owners would have been unjustly enriched.

Defendant Stokes was finally served with a summons on December 8, 1983. On January 17, 1984, she filed an answer and appearance, in which she simply denied most of plaintiff's allegations. Stokes did not object in her answer to the fact that she had not been served with a summons in connection with the first amended complaint.

In July 1985, both Austin and Stokes requested leave to file amended answers to plaintiff's second amended complaint. Defendants wished to set forth affirmative defenses based on laches and the statutes of limitations. On July 11, 1985, the honorable Daniel Lynch denied Stokes' request for leave to file an amended answer. Austin then withdrew her motion for leave to amend.

On July 12, 1985, Stokes filed a motion for reconsideration of Judge Lynch's order. Judge Lynch was not sitting on July 22 when the motion was scheduled for a hearing, so the motion for reconsideration was presented to the honorable Mary Hooton. Also on July 22, 1985, Austin renewed her motion for leave to file an amended answer. Judge Hooton granted both defendants leave to amend their answers and set a hearing date for consideration of defendants' motions for judgments on the pleadings.

Judge Hooton heard defendants' motions for judgments on the pleadings on September 19, 1985. The judge granted Austin a judgment on the pleadings on counts I, II, and III of plaintiff's second amended complaint. Defendant Stokes was granted a judgment on the pleadings as to all four counts of the second amended complaint. On September 20, 1985, plaintiff voluntarily nonsuited its remaining count against defendant Austin. The judge included in her order a finding that there was no just reason to delay an appeal, so plaintiff seeks review of Judge Hooton's orders granting Stokes leave to amend her answer and granting both defendants judgments on the pleadings.

• 1 Plaintiff's first objection on appeal is that Judge Hooton erred in allowing defendant Stokes leave to amend her answer. Judge Hooton reversed an order by Judge Lynch in which Stokes was denied leave to amend. According to the plaintiff, one trial judge may not review the orders of another trial judge, except under unusual circumstances not present here.

Plaintiff misapprehends the law regarding the circuit court's power to review orders. Plaintiff cites People ex rel. Kelly, Ketting, Furth, Inc. v. Epstein (1974), 61 Ill.2d 229, 335 N.E.2d 430, to support the contention that one circuit court judge can not review the order of another judge of the same court. The Kelly court held that "review of the orders of one judge by another judge of the same court in the same case is neither consistent with the orderly administration of justice nor with our judicial system." 61 Ill.2d 229, 231, 335 N.E.2d 430.

In the Kelly case, the first order, which restrained the defendants from transferring certain funds, was a final judgment and could not be altered. When an order is interlocutory, however, the circuit court has power to amend it or revise it any time prior to final judgment, and it does not matter that the judge who vacates or changes an order is not the same one who entered it in the first place. (Richichi v. City of Chicago (1964), 49 Ill. App.2d 320, 325, 199 N.E.2d 652.) The order in this case was interlocutory since it did not finally dispose of all of the rights and liabilities of the parties. (See 87 Ill.2d R. 304(a); ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.