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04/12/89 In Re Marriage of Estelle Weber

April 12, 1989

IN RE MARRIAGE OF ESTELLE WEBER, PETITIONER-APPELLEE, AND


APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, THIRD DIVISION

LOUIS WEBER, Respondent-Appellant

537 N.E.2d 1024, 182 Ill. App. 3d 212, 130 Ill. Dec. 695 1989.IL.506

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Carole Bellows, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE McNAMARA* delivered the opinion of the court. FREEMAN, P.J., and WHITE, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCNAMARA

Petitioner, Estelle Weber, filed a petition for dissolution of her marriage from respondent, Louis Weber, and incorporated by reference a three-count declaratory judgment petition. In this appeal we consider the trial court's grant of a preliminary injunction in favor of petitioner which, among other things, enjoined respondent from terminating petitioner's interest in a business they founded. Respondent filed this interlocutory appeal, contending that petitioner failed to establish all prerequisite elements of a preliminary injunction. On the same date, we are issuing an opinion affirming an order of the trial court dismissing counts I and II of Estelle's petition for declaratory judgment. In re Marriage of Weber (1989), 182 Ill. App. 3d 208.

The parties were married on September 26, 1963. In March 1987, respondent requested a divorce. On November 23, 1987, petitioner filed a petition for dissolution of marriage and other relief.

The petition alleged the parties' primary marital asset was a business partnership in the publications field. The business, Publications International, Ltd. , was founded by the parties in 1965 and incorporated in 1967. Publications International Subscription Corporation , a subsidiary of PIL, was formed to conduct subscription operations. Respondent holds title to all stock.

The parties serve as the directors of the two-member board of directors. Respondent, 50 years old, was president and now acts as chief executive officer. Petitioner, 63 years old, is corporate secretary, vice-president, and associate publisher. Both parties work full time for the business. The parties have listed the corporation with a business broker and plan to sell it.

Respondent informed the State of Illinois retail occupation tax authorities that the parties both owned PIL. The company advised Dun & Bradstreet that each party owned 50% of PIL's capital stock. PIL publications recited that both parties founded the company. The petition sought to establish that the parties were equal partners, with the accompanying fiduciary duties to each other.

The petition alleged further that respondent had sought to usurp control of the business by hiring new officer-level employees; preventing petitioner from attending key meetings; reducing petitioner's operational and managerial activities; denying her access to full information and corporate records, and full participation in business decisions, including those related to the possible sale of PIL; creating disturbances at work to humiliate petitioner; and authorizing substantial advances from PIL to himself without accounting to petitioner.

The petition alleged various examples of respondent's harassment of petitioner. For example, he stated at work that petitioner was "fired" and would be "thrown out" by the police. He told petitioner she was to have no contact with or receive information from the brokers trying to sell PIL. Respondent stated his employees had been instructed that petitioner was not to see any PIL financial records, as she was a "mere employee." Respondent barred petitioner from a meeting with the PIL outside accountant and from meetings with customers. Petitioner's attempts to pursue business matters with PIL employees were often unsuccessful.

Petitioner alleged respondent's abuse had irreparably injured her; damaged her business reputation; and harmed her ability to effectively negotiate future employment. Petitioner alleged she had no adequate remedy at law, harming her ability to effectively negotiate a ...


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