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12/30/87 Howard R. Conant, Jr., v. Ernest A. Karris Et Al.

December 30, 1987





520 N.E.2d 757, 165 Ill. App. 3d 783, 117 Ill. Dec. 406 1987.IL.1937

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Albert Green, Judge, presiding.


PRESIDING JUSTICE McNAMARA delivered the opinion of the court. RIZZI and WHITE, JJ., concur.


Plaintiff Howard R. Conant, Jr., a real estate developer, filed a complaint alleging that he sought to purchase certain commercially developed real estate and, along with his real estate broker, defendant Ernest Karris (broker), developed an offer based upon certain confidential information he possessed; however, the seller rejected plaintiff's offer of $1,500,000 and accepted the offer of $1,600,000 made by the broker's brother, defendant Nicholas A. Karris (buyer). The trial court found plaintiff had failed to allege any wrongdoing by defendants. Pursuant to section 2-615 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 2-615), the court dismissed the first amended complaint for a constructive trust, accounting and other relief.

Other defendants include American National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago as trustee holding legal title to the real property, dismissed by the trial court as a party; defendant La Salle Hubbard Corporation, of which Nicholas Karris is the president and sole shareholder, and which is beneficial owner of the real estate; and defendant Water Tower Trust and Savings Bank, dismissed sua sponte by the trial court as a party.

The real estate at issue is a commercially developed parcel located at 125 West Hubbard Street in Chicago. The first amended complaint alleges that in September 1984, the defendant broker approached plaintiff and informed him that the subject property was for sale. In early January 1985, plaintiff and the defendant broker, "the latter acting as plaintiff's broker, together developed for plaintiff's sole benefit an offer" to buy the property at a price of $1,500,000. The offer was "generated using confidential information developed by plaintiff . . ., which plaintiff disclosed to [the broker] solely in his capacity as plaintiff's real estate broker." The confidential information was contained in a computer printout, a copy of which was given to defendant broker in his capacity as plaintiff's broker.

On January 9, 1985, the defendant broker "informed plaintiff that an offer to purchase the property for $1,400,000 had been submitted to the owner and that the owner had agreed that said price was acceptable, although the earnest money had not yet been deposited. Ernest Karris urged plaintiff to move quickly to submit the offer of $1,500,000 that Ernest Karris had suggested."

The amended complaint alleges further that the broker, "without plaintiff's knowledge or consent, disclosed the terms of plaintiff's offer and the confidential information to his brother, Nicholas Karris, and solicited Nicholas to submit a competing offer to the owner. At that time, Nicholas knew that Ernest was plaintiff's broker for the purchase of the Property."

On January 15, 1985, the defendant broker asked plaintiff to "hold" his offer because "our group," including his brother, wanted to make a competing offer. "Plaintiff refused to 'hold' his offer, protested the proposed submission by [the broker] of a competing offer for the property, and demanded that [the broker] continue to act only as plaintiff's broker and not for a competing potential purchaser."

On January 16, 1985, plaintiff submitted an offer for $1,500,000 to the seller. The written offer included the defendant broker's name as the agent entitled to a broker's commission.

On January 22, 1985, the defendant buyer offered to purchase the property for $1,600,000 and the seller accepted the offer. On January 25, 1985, the seller informed plaintiff that his offer had been rejected.

On December 18, 1985, plaintiff filed this suit. On June 18, 1986, the trial court dismissed plaintiff's original complaint for constructive trust and other relief. The court specifically found that the complaint was fatally deficient in that "it is unclear whether the defendants' successful bid on the property directly competed with plaintiff's bid, submitted at the same time, and thus violated the duties imposed by the defendants' ...

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