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05/09/97 DOUGLAS THEATER CORPORATION v. CHICAGO

May 9, 1997

DOUGLAS THEATER CORPORATION, AN ILLINOIS CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
CHICAGO TITLE & TRUST COMPANY, AS TRUSTEE UNDER TRUST NO. 1083978; HAROLD BINSTEIN AS BENEFICIARY OF TRUST NO. 1083978; GOLD STANDARD ENTERPRISES, INC., AN ILLINOIS CORPORATION; AND CHALET INTERNATIONALE, INC., AN ILLINOIS CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES. *FN1



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 95 L 11565. The Honorable David G. Lichtenstein, Judge Presiding.

Rehearing Denied June 25, 1997. Released for Publication July 21, 1997.

The Honorable Justice Hourihane delivered the opinion of the Court. Hartman, P.j., and Hoffman, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hourihane

The Honorable Justice HOURIHANE delivered the opinion of the Court:

Plaintiff, Douglas Theater Corporation (Douglas Theater), appeals from the order of the circuit court dismissing with prejudice its complaint for tortious interference with contract and tortious interference with prospective economic advantage. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court.

BACKGROUND

This is the third time this case has visited this court. See Douglas Theater Corp. v. Chicago Title & Trust Co., 210 Ill. App. 3d 301, 569 N.E.2d 88, 155 Ill. Dec. 88 (1991) (hereafter Douglas Theater I); Douglas Theater Corp. v. Chicago Title & Trust Co., 266 Ill. App. 3d 1037, 641 N.E.2d 584, 204 Ill. Dec. 360 (1994) (hereafter Douglas Theater II). The dispute involves real property located at Wellington Avenue and Clark Street in Chicago. Title to the property was previously held by American National Bank (ANB), as trustee. In 1978, ANB leased a portion of the property to defendant Gold Standard Enterprises, Inc. (Gold Standard), a company owned by defendant Harold Binstein (Binstein). In 1982, ANB leased the adjoining portion of the property to Douglas Theater. Douglas Theater's lease included a purchase option as to certain of the property.

In 1983, Binstein acquired the entire property and placed title in defendant Chicago Title & Trust Company (Chicago Title), as trustee, with Binstein as the sole trust beneficiary. Binstein's purchase was subject to the Douglas Theater and Gold Standard leases, which ANB assigned to Chicago Title.

In 1986, Douglas Theater exercised its purchase option. A dispute subsequently arose as to whether Douglas Theater's option included the theater basement and a vacated alley and resulted in Douglas Theater initiating the instant litigation. The trial court entered judgment for plaintiff as to its claim for specific performance, ordering Binstein and Chicago Title to convey the disputed property, and reserved judgment on the issue of equitable compensation, pending outcome of the appeals. In Douglas Theater I we affirmed the decision of the circuit court.

Upon consideration of Douglas Theater's claim for equitable compensation, the circuit court entered judgment in favor of Douglas Theater and against Binstein in the approximate amount of $23,000 for lost rental income. With the exception of plaintiff's claim for tortious interference with economic advantage, all of plaintiff's other claims for damages were dismissed with prejudice. As to plaintiff's tortious interference claim, the court dismissed this cause of action without prejudice with leave to replead in the law division. In Douglas Theater II we affirmed this decision of the circuit court.

Douglas Theater thereafter filed its Amended Complaint at Law, seeking damages for tortious interference with prospective economic advantage and tortious interference with contract. Defendants moved to dismiss pursuant to sections 2-615 and 2-619 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-615, 5/2-619 (West 1994)), asserting that the Amended Complaint fails to state a cause of action under either theory, that a new claim for tortious interference with contract was added without leave of court, and that plaintiff's claims are barred by the applicable statute of limitations and the circuit court's prior order of dismissal. The circuit court granted defendants' motion to dismiss with prejudice, and subsequently denied Douglas Theater's Motion to Reconsider and for Leave to File a First Amendment to Amended Complaint at Law. This appeal followed. 155 Ill. 2d R. 303.

ANALYSIS

The circuit court's order of dismissal states only that plaintiff's amended complaint is dismissed "for the reasons stated by defendants in movants' motion papers". We note also that the proceedings were not transcribed. Where the trial court does not specify the grounds on which it relied in granting a motion to dismiss, this court will presume it was upon one of the grounds properly presented. Zielinski v. Chris W. Knapp & Son, Inc., 277 Ill. App. 3d 735, 739, 660 N.E.2d 1289, 214 Ill. Dec. 340 (1995). This court may also affirm the decision of the trial court on any basis called for by the record. Esposito v. Dior Builders, 274 Ill. App. 3d 338, 345, 653 N.E.2d 921, 210 Ill. Dec. 726 (1995). Thus, we first consider defendant's arguments under section 2-615 of the Code.

Dismissal of a cause of action pursuant to section 2-615 is appropriate only where it clearly appears that no set of facts can be proved under the pleadings which will entitle plaintiff to recovery. Heritage Pullman Bank & Trust Co. v. Carr, 283 Ill. App. 3d 472, 476, 627 N.E.2d 160 (1996). In ruling on such a motion, the court must take as true all well-pled facts of the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences therefrom in favor of plaintiff. Beck v. Budget Rent-A-Car, 283 Ill. App. 3d 541, 543, 669 N.E.2d 1335, 218 Ill. Dec. 809 (1996). Because the question of whether a complaint ...


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