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Christiansen v. Saylor

July 09, 1998

SARAH CHRISTIANSEN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
PATTI SAYLOR, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE (RONALD E. KRANIG AND MARK P. MANNEBACH, D/B/A ASSET RECOVERY SYSTEMS, ASSIGNEES AND PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS).



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Inglis

IN THE APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS SECOND DISTRICT

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County.

No. 96--SC--4337

Honorable George Bridges Judge, Presiding.

Assignee-plaintiffs, Ronald E. Kranig and Mark P. Mannebach, d/b/a Asset Recovery Systems (plaintiffs), appeal from an order of the circuit court of Lake County that denied their motion to reconsider a previous order that vacated a default judgment against defendant, Patti Saylor. The order appealed from also directed a finding in favor of defendant.

The record reveals the following facts. On December 20, 1996, the original plaintiff, Sarah Christiansen, filed a small claims complaint against defendant. The complaint alleged that defendant owed Christiansen $1,450 "for rent due for the apartment located at 932 W. Rollins Road, Round Lake Heights, Illinois."

Summons was issued December 20, 1996. The summons requested service on defendant "c/o Onie Watkins 936 W. Rollins Rd. Apt. 2 Round Lake Heights, IL." The affidavit of service submitted by a deputy sheriff indicates that defendant was personally served on December 23, 1996, at 936 W. Rollins Rd., Apt No. 2, Round Lake Heights, Illinois. The affidavit shows that service was had on a 52-year-old white female.

The summons required defendant to appear before the trial court to answer the complaint on January 24, 1997. On that date, defendant did not appear, and the trial court entered a default judgment against defendant and in favor of Christiansen in the amount of $1,450.

On April 15, 1997, Christiansen assigned the judgment to plaintiffs for unspecified valuable consideration. On April 28, 1997, plaintiffs filed a citation to discover assets against defendant. The affidavit of service for the summons related to the citation to discover assets shows that defendant was personally served on May 2, 1997, at 150 Antaris Circle, Round Lake, Illinois. The affidavit shows that service was had on a 47-year-old white female.

Defendant responded to the citation to discover assets by filing a motion pursuant to section 2--1401 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2--1401 (West 1996)). The motion sought to quash service with respect to Christiansen's complaint against defendant and to vacate the judgment.

Defendant appeared at a hearing on the matter and denied that she received the summons related to Christiansen's complaint. Defendant testified that she never lived at 936 W. Rollins, the address where she was purportedly served. According to defendant, the first time she heard anything about this case was early in May 1997. She testified that she then immediately contacted the manager of the apartment complex that was the subject of Christiansen's complaint (Lynwood Apartments) and established that she did not owe Lynwood Apartments any rent. Defendant acknowledged that she knew who Christiansen was, but denied owing Christiansen any money.

On cross-examination, defendant denied ever borrowing any money from Christiansen. Defendant also denied that Christiansen ever paid any rent for her. Defendant admitted knowing Onie Watkins. Defendant denied ever living in Watkins' apartment.

Defendant called Beth Braynard to testify at the hearing. Braynard has been the on-site manager of Lynwood Apartments since December 1996. Braynard testified that defendant did not owe Lynwood Apartments or its landlord any money. According to Braynard, Christiansen was a former manager of Lynwood Apartments. Braynard did not believe that the owner of Lynwood Apartments had authorized a suit against anyone for rents due. Braynard testified that defendant never lived at 936 W. Rollins, the address where service of Christiansen's summons and complaint purportedly was served on defendant.

Plaintiffs called Steve Trudeau. Trudeau was the deputy sheriff who signed the affidavit of service showing that he personally served Christiansen's summons and complaint on defendant. Trudeau was not able to identify defendant as the person he served. Trudeau testified that he knows Onie Watkins and that she was not the person he served. He also testified that ...


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