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03/31/88 First National Bank of v. Chrysler Realty

March 31, 1988





522 N.E.2d 1298, 168 Ill. App. 3d 784, 119 Ill. Dec. 439 1988.IL.474

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Robert Cahill, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE LINN delivered the opinion of the court. JIGANTI, P.J., and McMORROW, J., concur.


Plaintiff, the First National Bank of Evergreen Park, as trustee under trust No. 2037, brought a forcible detainer action in the circuit court of Cook County against defendants, the Chrysler Realty Corporation (Chrysler Realty) and Fireside Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc. (Fireside Chrysler). Plaintiff sought possession of an automobile dealership building that it leased to defendants. A jury returned a verdict in favor of defendants.

Plaintiff appeals from the judgment entered on the verdict. Plaintiff contends: (1) the trial Judge should have granted it a judgment n.o.v.; (2) the verdict was against the manifest weight of the evidence; (3) defendants' affirmative defenses were legally insufficient and nongermane; (4) the trial Judge admitted into evidence irrelevant and prejudicial matter; (5) a conflict of interest existed between plaintiff and its trial counsel; (6) the trial Judge improperly instructed the jury, and (7) the trial misconduct of Fireside Chrysler's attorney was so prejudicial as to deny it a fair trial.

We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


The record shows that on September 11, 1970, plaintiff leased a newly constructed automobile dealership building to Chrysler Realty in Schaumburg, Illinois. Kenneth Anderson was the landlord under the 25-year lease. Chrysler Realty was the lessee, which in turn subleased the premises to Fireside Chrysler, a franchised Chrysler dealer.

The lease provided that the landlord make all structural repairs arising from faulty workmanship, materials, or design. Chrysler Realty was obligated to make all other repairs necessary to keep the premises in as good a condition as when received. Further, if the premises were "partially or totally destroyed by fire, casualty, or other cause or happening," then the landlord would restore the premises.

Additionally, if Chrysler Realty failed to perform any of its obligations under the lease and failed to cure its default within 30 days after notice from the landlord, the landlord could re-enter and repossess the premises. The lease would terminate upon reentry. The sublease obligated Fireside Chrysler to keep the premises in "first-class order and repair" and to perform all of Chrysler Realty's obligations under the lease.

The record further shows that, during a routine inspection in 1983, Chrysler Realty determined that the roof needed repairs. The roofing company that Fireside Chrysler hired did not install a new roof. The roofing company, rather, "re-roofed" the building by applying a "capsheet," i.e., another layer, to the old roof.

On April 30, 1984, a windstorm tore a hole in a portion of the capsheet; water collected and became trapped between the capsheet and the original roof. The landlord notified Chrysler Realty of the damage. In a letter dated May 16, 1984, the landlord expressed his displeasure as to the building's maintenance and described the previous roof repair as unacceptable.

The landlord and a field engineer of Chrysler Realty inspected the roof on May 29, 1984. In addition to assessing the windstorm damage, the Chrysler Realty engineer concluded that the capsheet was incorrectly installed. Representatives of Chrysler Realty met with a representative of Fireside Chrysler, who promised to make repairs.

The record further shows that, a few days prior to his inspection of the roof, the landlord received an insurance settlement of $7,608.31 for the windstorm damage to the roof. However, in a letter to Chrysler Realty dated June 1, 1984, the landlord stated:

"I have settled with the insurance company to replace the damaged roof stacks and replace the section of your repair that blew off the original roof. I have told [the Chrysler Realty zone manager] and [the Chrysler Realty field engineer] that I will either make the repair to your improper roofing and put it back the way it was or issue you the $900.00 check so you may credit it against putting the roof and the sheet metal back to it's [ sic ] original condition."

The landlord again expressed his dissatisfaction with the building's maintenance and roof repairs.

Chrysler Realty accepted the $900. The landlord mailed to Fireside Chrysler a check for that amount to be applied to the repairs. In mid-July of 1984, however, Fireside Chrysler returned the landlord's check to Chrysler Realty. The dealer believed that Anderson received more than $900 from the insurance company.

On July 20, 1984, the landlord notified Chrysler Realty that it was in default under the lease, for the reasons that he stated in his May 16 and June 1 letters. The landlord further notified Chrysler Realty, ...

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