APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FIFTH DIVISION
1000 CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. CARRIER CORPORATION, d/b/a Carrier Building Services, Defendant-Appellee
535 N.E.2d 1144, 180 Ill. App. 3d 467, 129 Ill. Dec. 379 1989.IL.313
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Thomas E. Hoffman, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE LORENZ delivered the opinion of the court. MURRAY, P.J., and PINCHAM, J., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE LORENZ
Plaintiff, 1000 Condominium Association, appeals from an order granting judgment on the pleadings under the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 2-615(e)) in favor of defendant, Carrier Corporation. We address the following two issues: (1) whether the contract between plaintiff and defendant provides that legal action must be filed within one year; and (2) whether the limitations provision in the contract is valid. We affirm.
Plaintiff's two-count complaint, as amended, alleged the following pertinent facts. Plaintiff and defendant entered into a contract, attached to the complaint as an exhibit, under which defendant's obligation was to inspect and maintain the refrigeration system in plaintiff's building. On December 19, 1985, the refrigeration system froze, causing extensive damage to the refrigeration equipment. Plaintiff alleged that defendant negligently maintained the system and that defendant breached an express warranty to perform its contractual obligations in a workmanlike manner. The complaint was filed on January 27, 1987.
Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to section 2-615 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 2-615), seeking to enforce paragraph 14 of the contract, which defendant claimed required plaintiff to file a lawsuit within one year from the date of the damage. The provision stated:
"14. BOTH PARTIES agree that any claim arising from the performance or nonperformance of this AGREEMENT whether based upon contract, negligence, strict liability or otherwise, shall be brought within one (1) year from the date such claim arose."
Plaintiff, in its response brief to defendant's motion to dismiss, attached two letters as exhibits which plaintiff argued established that it complied with paragraph 14 by providing defendant with notice of the claim within the one-year period. The trial court did not consider the exhibits in its ruling because they were not attached to plaintiff's complaint and, therefore, not properly before the court. Additionally, plaintiff argued the term "claim" as used in paragraph 14 was ambiguous.
Although defendant filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint, the trial court found it was in the nature of a motion for judgment on the pleadings and treated it as such. (See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 2-615(e).) The trial court found that the term "claim" as used in paragraph 14 was not ambiguous and was broad enough to encompass the causes of action presented in plaintiff's complaint. Pursuant to paragraph 14 of the contract, plaintiff was required to file its complaint on or before December 19, 1986, within one year after the damage occurred. Plaintiff, however, did not file its complaint until more than one year after the damage occurred. Based on its findings, the trial court granted judgment on the pleadings in defendant's favor. Plaintiff filed a timely notice of appeal.
The entry of judgment on the pleadings is proper when the trial court examines the pleadings on file, accepts all well-pled facts and reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmovant, and determines that the issues raised present only questions of law. (Triangle Sign Co. v. Weber, Cohn & Riley (1986), 149 Ill. App. 3d 839, 501 N.E.2d 315.) The determination of whether contract language is ambiguous is a question of law (Srivastava v. Russell's Barbecue, Inc. (1988), 168 Ill. App. 3d 726, 523 N.E.2d 30) and , therefore, a proper issue for judgment on the pleadings. In reviewing an order granting judgment on the pleadings, an appellate court must affirm the ...