Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 98 CH 6528 Honorable John K. Madden, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Barth
Lucille Antler (Antler), the named plaintiff in the underlying class action lawsuit, filed a complaint against the named defendants, who collectively own, operate and manage an apartment building for independent seniors in which Antler resided (the Hallmark). The complaint alleged that defendants violated the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) (Chicago Municipal Code §§ 5-12-080, 5-12-170 (1998)) and the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (Consumer Fraud Act), (815 ILCS 505/1 et seq. (West 1998)), by failing to attach summaries of the to Antler's residency agreements, and by failing to pay her hundreds of dollars in interest on her building entrance fee. Defendants moved to dismiss pursuant to sections 2-615 and 2-619(a)(9) of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-615, 2-619(a)(9) (West 1998)), on the grounds that the Hallmark is an "extended care facility," explicitly exempt from compliance with the RLTO. The trial court granted defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to section 2-619 with prejudice. From that order, Antler now appeals, and we affirm.
Antler is an elderly woman who resided at the Hallmark from October 1990 until April 1998 pursuant to three agreements. The agreements describe the 340-unit Hallmark apartment building as "a residential community for active seniors of 62 years or older located along the Chicago lakefront."
Prior to opening the Hallmark, defendants (specifically, the Living Environments for an Aging America Fund or LEAAF) applied to the Department of Public Health for a permit under the Life Care Facilities Act, (210 ILCS 40/1 et seq. (West 1998)), to authorize them to enter into life care contracts. The Life Care Facilities Act defines a "life care contract" as:
"[A] contract to provide to a person for the duration of such person's life or for a term in excess of one year, nursing services, medical services or personal care services, in addition to maintenance services for such person in a facility, conditioned upon the transfer of an entrance fee to the provider of such services in addition to or in lieu of the payment of regular periodic charges for the care and services involved." 210 ILCS 40/2(c) (West 1998).
In conjunction with their application, defendants were required to submit extensive documentation, including a sample of the life care contract into which Hallmark residents like Antler would enter, to the Department of Public Health. They also submitted proof of financial status and evidence of compliance with the Life Care Facilities Act's escrow requirements for newly opening life care facilities. See 210 ILCS 40/3 through 7 (West 1998). On the basis of the foregoing documentation, the Department of Public Health issued defendants a permit to operate as a life care facility and to enter into life care contracts.
Plaintiff entered into her first life care contract at age 82 in October 1990, when the Hallmark first opened. At that time, the Hallmark was owned by the First National Bank of Chicago, as trustee for LEAAF. Classic Residence Management Limited Partnership (Classic, L.P.), the manager of the Hallmark, executed the first residency agreement on LEAAF's behalf. Contemporaneously with the execution of the first residency agreement, Antler paid an entrance fee of $29,200. Of that amount, the residency agreement required LEAAF to deposit $10,000 into a "Health Care Fund" escrow account, to be used for the payment of Antler's long-term health care. In addition to providing for long-term health care insurance, LEAAF contracted with St. Joseph's (the hospital adjacent to the Hallmark) to operate a wellness center on the Hallmark's premises. Also, the residency agreement provided Antler with priority admission to St. Joseph's nursing facility, should it be required, either on a temporary or a permanent basis. If no beds were available at St. Joseph's or another facility were preferred, assistance with transfer would be provided.
The remaining balance of Antler's entrance fee, $19,200, was placed in an escrow account and, beginning in the fourteenth month after occupancy, was to be used as "additional consideration" to pay for the basic services provided at the Hallmark. *fn1 These basic services (more were available for an additional fee) included:
"(i) Dining Service: continental breakfast each day, plus 25 meals per month per resident from [our] selective menus. Meals may be used for [your] guests Sunday through Thursday.
(ii) Unit Housekeeping Service: once every week, including vacuuming, dusting and light cleaning.
(iii) Linen Service: once every week, including pick-up, laundering and return of bed linens.
(iv) Scheduled Transportation Service: scheduled transportation service provided to and from area shopping centers, banks, health care facilities and selected special events.
(v) In-Unit Emergency Response System: emergency call system in bedroom and bathroom, monitored 24 hours per day by [our] staff."
In October 1991, LEAAF and Antler entered into a revised (or second) residency agreement. This agreement, which was for a two-year term, provided as a condition to residency that Antler pay LEAAF a $19,200 entrance fee, which was the balance remaining on the original $29,200 entrance fee after accounting for the $10,000 set aside for the Health Care Fund. The provisions of the second agreement were substantially the same as those of the first, except that the second provided that the entrance fee was 90% refundable to Antler upon either her death or the expiration of the residency agreement.
In August 1992, LEAAF assigned its interest in the Hallmark to one of the other defendants, K/2960 Limited Partnership, and the Prime Group, Inc., began acting as the owner's agent/manager of the building.
Antler subsequently entered into a third residency agreement, with a commencement date of January 1993. Upon execution of that agreement, 90% of the $19,200 fee paid pursuant to (and made refundable by) the second agreement was returned to Antler, minus $2,500 retained as the entrance fee charged pursuant to the third agreement ($14,780 total). No interest was paid to Antler at that time. Also, it was agreed that Antler would be responsible for her pro rata share of the Hallmark's real estate taxes, which the Hallmark would deduct from her monthly service fee.
Antler terminated the third residency agreement in April 1998. At that time, the $2,500 entrance fee was returned to her. She demanded interest, but her demand was refused.
Antler filed the complaint in the instant lawsuit in May 1998. The complaint alleged that the $19,200 portion of the entrance fee under the first and second residency agreements, and the $2,500 entrance fee under the third residency agreement all qualify as "security deposits" within the meaning of section 5-12-080 of the RLTO. The complaint further alleged that Antler is a "tenant" within the meaning of the RLTO. According to Antler, defendants violated the RLTO by: (a) refusing to pay annual interest to her on the security deposit portion of her entrance fee, as required by section 5-12-080; and (b) failing to attach a copy or summary of the RLTO to the ...