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06/10/87 Richard/Allen/Winter, Ltd. v. James A. Waldorf Et Al.

June 10, 1987

RICHARD/ALLEN/WINTER, LTD., PLAINTIFF AND COUNTERDEFENDANT-APPELLANT

v.

JAMES A. WALDORF ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND COUNTERPLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, SECOND DISTRICT

509 N.E.2d 1078, 156 Ill. App. 3d 717, 109 Ill. Dec. 239 1987.IL.785

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. William E. Black, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

PRESIDING JUSTICE LINDBERG delivered the opinion of the court. NASH and INGLIS, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE LINDBERG

In a jury trial, counterdefendant, Richard/Allen/Winter, Ltd. , was found to have violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 121 1/2, par. 262 et seq.), and the jury awarded $1,000 in compensatory and $1,000 in punitive damages for counterplaintiff Ronald V. Erickson (Erickson), and $0 for compensatory and $1,000 in punitive damages for counterplaintiff James A. Waldorf (Waldorf). RAW appealed the jury's verdict. On appeal, RAW raises several issues. Given our decision we will address the following issues only: (1) whether the matter should be remanded for a bench trial based on counterdefendant's contention that causes of action arising under the ICFDBPA may not be decided by a jury; and (2) whether the two counterplaintiffs' causes of action were properly joined. We affirm in part, reverse in part and remand.

On November 1, 1984, RAW filed a complaint in Du Page County against Waldorf under the small claims provisions of Supreme Court Rule 286 (87 Ill. 2d R. 286) seeking to collect $612.50 pursuant to an "Executive Guidance Engagement Agreement" entered into between Waldorf and RAW on May 24, 1978. (Case No. 84-SC-6027.) RAW also filed a small claims complaint against Erickson seeking to collect $450 pursuant to an "Executive Guidance Engagement Agreement" entered into between RAW and Erickson on February 7, 1979. (Case No. 85-SC-0220.)

RAW is a management consulting firm, located in Lake Forest, whose services include executive marketing, executive out-placement and executive search. RAW is not a licensed employment agency in Illinois. Waldorf and Erickson are two clients who signed with RAW to obtain career guidance services. Waldorf and Erickson are represented by the same attorney, who filed answers and counterclaims on behalf of both of them. Over objections by RAW, the trial court on its own motion consolidated the two cases on the basis of commonality of issues and witnesses. Erickson's and Waldorf's second amended answer and counterclaim filed November 8, 1985, are grounded on the claim that RAW violated the ICFDBPA. The prayer for relief requested both compensatory and punitive damages. Subsequently, RAW moved to dismiss with prejudice its complaint against Erickson and Waldorf. Therefore, only the counterclaim was litigated before the jury. Erickson and Waldorf were awarded $1,000 and $0 in compensatory damages, respectively, and $1,000 each in punitive damages. This appeal ensued.

RAW contends that the trial court erred in granting counterplaintiffs' jury request on the basis that the ICFDBPA does not specifically provide for a jury trial. We agree. Section 10a of the ICFDBPA provides in pertinent part:

(a) Any person who suffers damage as a result of a violation of Sections 2 through 20 of this Act committed by any other person may bring an action against such person. The court, in its discretion may award actual damages or any other relief which the court deems proper.

(c) In any action brought by a person under this Section, the court may award, in addition to the relief provided in this Section, reasonable attorney's fees and costs to the prevailing party." (Emphasis added.) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 121 1/2, par. 270a.)

In analyzing this section we use traditional principles of statutory construction. A primary rule of statutory construction is that the intention of the legislature should be ascertained and given effect. (People v. Robinson (1982), 89 Ill. 2d 469, 475-76, 433 N.E.2d 674; People ex rel. Gibson v. Cannon (1976), 65 Ill. 2d 366, 369, 357 N.E.2d 1180.) In construing the intent of the legislature, the court must look to the language of the statute, and that language should normally be given its ordinary meaning. (Potts v. Industrial Com. (1980), 83 Ill. 2d 48, 51, 413 N.E.2d 1285; Finley v. Finley (1980), 81 Ill. 2d 317, 326, 410 N.E.2d 12.) Furthermore, a statute should be read in consonance with constitutional principles. Arnolt v. City of Highland Park (1972), 52 Ill. 2d 27, 33, 282 N.E.2d 144; Village of Niles v. City of Chicago (1980), 82 Ill. App. 3d 60, 67, 401 N.E.2d 1235.

Section 13 of article I of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 provides:

"The right to trial by jury as heretofore enjoyed shall remain inviolate." (Ill. Const. ...


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