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04/13/89 Ronning Engineering v. Adams Pride Alfalfa

April 13, 1989

RONNING ENGINEERING COMPANY, INC., PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

ADAMS PRIDE ALFALFA CORPORATION ET AL., DEFENDANTS (RIVER FOREST STATE BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, AS TRUSTEE, ET



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT

al., Defendants-Appellees)

537 N.E.2d 1032, 181 Ill. App. 3d 753, 130 Ill. Dec. 703 1989.IL.522

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Adams County; the Hon. Dennis K. Cashman, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE SPITZ delivered the opinion of the court. LUND and GREEN, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE SPITZ

Plaintiff Ronning Engineering Company, Inc., filed a complaint in the circuit court of Adams County, to foreclose a mechanics' lien and to obtain a money judgment for services rendered, against defendants Adams Pride Alfalfa Corporation (Adams Pride), River Forest State Bank and Trust Company (River Forest), Illinois National Bank of Springfield , the County of Adams, Continental Cement Company (Continental Cement), and unknown owners. Motions to dismiss were subsequently filed by several of the defendants. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 110, pars. 2-615, 2-619.) The trial court dismissed the complaint after a hearing and granted plaintiff leave to amend.

Plaintiff then filed a two-count amended complaint against the aforementioned defendants on July 15, 1988. Count I of the complaint sought to foreclose a mechanics' lien against the defendants. Count I alleged the following. The plaintiff was a corporation located in Overland Park, Kansas, engaged in the business of providing professional engineering services. Defendant Adams Pride was the owner of certain real estate in Adams County, Illinois. On or about July 1, 1986, the plaintiff entered into a verbal contract with Adams Pride to furnish professional engineering services in connection with the construction of a manufacturing facility for Adams Pride on the Adams County real estate. Pursuant to the verbal contract, Adams Pride agreed to pay the plaintiff for services rendered. On or about August 12, 1987, the plaintiff completed all that was required to be done under the verbal contract, at which time Adams Pride owed the plaintiff $25,749.40 for plaintiff's services.

Count I further alleged that the plaintiff had frequently demanded that Adams Pride pay the balance due but that it refused to do so and therefore the plaintiff filed a claim for mechanics' lien against Adams Pride on November 30, 1987. Count I also alleged that Adams County, River Forest, and INB claimed an interest in the above real estate pursuant to a mortgage and security agreement dated June 1, 1986, and filed July 1, 1986. Further, the real estate was subject to an assignment of rents and leases entered into by Adams Pride, Adams County, River Forest, and INB, which was dated June 1, 1986, and filed July 1, 1986. Finally, Continental Cement claimed an interest in the real estate by virtue of a mechanics' lien filed February 7, 1987, and amended February 27, 1987.

Count II of the complaint sought the entry of a money judgment for the amount allegedly due and owing for services rendered by the plaintiff under the aforementioned verbal contract.

Attached to the complaint was plaintiff's claim for a mechanics' lien against Adams Pride. The claim for lien contained a description of the tract of land in question and the balance due after allowing all credits. The claim for lien also stated:

"That on or about September 20, 1985 [the plaintiff] made and entered into a written contract with said Owner to furnish professional engineering services for a feasibility study for an alfalfa processing plant based on the use of the owner's natural gas resources. A copy of the contract is attached hereto and made a part hereof. The owner requested continuing professional engineering services on the same terms to design a manufacturing facility on said real estate.

That on or about August 12, 1987, [the plaintiff] completed all that was required to be done by it under said contract and the continued professional services."

Attached thereto was a "proposal" by the plaintiff to perform services. The proposal was dated September 4, 1985, and was directed to "L. & A. Energy, Inc. -- Attn: Mr. Tom Logan -- Adams County Joint Venture." The document indicated, inter alia, that the plaintiff would accomplish a feasibility study for an alfalfa processing plant within 30 days of the receipt of a purchase order and downpayment. The document further stated, "Price F.O.B. Manufacturer: Not to Exceed $5,000.00 plus travel expenses." The proposal was accepted and executed by Clement Stone on behalf of Adams County joint venture and Richard L. Ronning on behalf of the plaintiff, on September 11, 1985. On top of Stone's signature was a stamp bearing the following notation: ...


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