No. 98--SC--512 Appeal from the Circuit Court of De Kalb County.
Honorable John W. Countryman, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE RAPP delivered the opinion of the court:
Defendant, Mason Properties, d/b/a University Heights Apartments (Mason), appeals the trial court's entry of judgment in favor of plaintiffs, Yasuo Ikari and Liang Xue. Mason claims that the trial court erred in awarding double damages. Ikari and Xue cross-appeal, claiming that the trial court erred in calculating damages and in denying their petition for attorney fees. All three arguments are apparent issues of first impression in Illinois.
On July 7, 1997, Ikari and Xue, together with two other individuals, entered into a written apartment lease agreement with Mason. At that time, Ikari and Xue were graduate students attending Northern Illinois University. Ikari and Xue had leased the same apartment the previous year with other roommates. At the inception of the first lease, a mutual inspection of the apartment was made by Ikari and Xue. No such inspection was made prior to the inception of the second lease. Pursuant to the lease, Ikari and Xue paid $709 to Mason as a security deposit.
In August 1998, the lease terminated by its own terms and Ikari and Xue vacated the apartment. Within 30 days, Mason provided Ikari and Xue with an itemized statement setting forth a calculation of charges for damage to the apartment. Mason retained $259.90 as payment for the itemized damages and returned the balance of the security deposit, with interest, to Ikari and Xue. Thereafter, Ikari and Xue commenced this action.
Following a trial on the matter, the trial court found that Ikari and Xue had returned the apartment to Mason in the same or better condition than they found it, ordinary wear and tear excepted, and were entitled to the full return of the $259.90 withheld by Mason for damage to the apartment. The trial court further found that Ikari and Xue had contacted Mason well before they were scheduled to vacate the apartment and inquired what needed to be done to insure the full return of their security deposit and that Mason had informed them that an inspection would take place after they vacated. The trial court ruled that Mason had acted in bad faith in not returning the entire security deposit by not arranging for an inspection at the termination of the lease. The trial court reasoned that Mason had provided an inspection prior to the inception of the first lease and that an exit inspection would have provided Ikari and Xue the opportunity to correct any defects found in the apartment. The trial court ordered that Mason pay double damages to Ikari and Xue in the amount of $519.80.
The trial court also found that Ikari and Xue were not entitled to attorney fees. The trial court reasoned that Ikari and Xue did not expend any money for attorney fees in that they were provided legal representation without charge through prepaid legal services available to students of Northern Illinois University by the Students' Legal Assistance Office, a program funded through the allocation of student fees. The trial court therefore denied Ikari and Xue's petition for attorney fees.
The trial court thereafter denied Ikari and Xue's motion to modify judgment and also denied Mason's motion to vacate judgment. Both parties timely appealed.
I. COMPLIANCE WITH SUPREME COURT RULES
We begin by noting both parties' failure to comply with Supreme Court Rule 6. 145 Ill. 2d R. 6. Rule 6 requires citation of cases to be to the official reports and to include the page of the volume where the case begins and the pages upon which the pertinent matter appears. All of the cases cited by defendant, and most of the cases cited by plaintiffs, lack reference to the official reports' page numbers upon which the pertinent matters appear.
"Strict adherence to the supreme court rules is necessary to expedite and facilitate the administration of justice." People v. Stork, 305 Ill. App. 3d 714, 717 (1999). We admonish both parties for failing to comply with the supreme court rules.
This court has recently seen a plethora of briefs submitted to it that fail to comply with the supreme court rules. We feel compelled to remind attorneys that their failure to comply with the supreme court rules may result in the imposition of sanctions, including the dismissal of an appeal. See 155 Ill. 2d R. 375(a).
II. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN AWARDING DOUBLE DAMAGES
Mason argues that double damages were not warranted because the trial court failed to specifically find that the itemized statement was provided in bad faith. Mason contends that the penalty provision of the Security Deposit Return Act (Act) (765 ILCS 710/1 (West 1996)) requires a court to make a specific finding that the landlord has supplied an itemized statement of damages in bad faith to justify awarding double damages. According to Mason, double damages should not have been awarded because the trial court ...