Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. 98 CH 18118 Honorable Lester D. Foreman, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Wolfson
Plaintiff Bruce Hayman (Hayman) rented a car. When the lease ended, he bought the car. Then he filed a class action suit for fraudulent misrepresentation, statutory consumer fraud, and conversion against Autohaus on Edens (Autohaus) and Toyota Motor Credit Corporation (TMCC). The trial judge dismissed Hayman's complaint. Hayman appeals.
On November 22, 1995, Hayman entered into a written agreement with Autohaus to lease a motor vehicle -- a 1996 Toyota Camry -- for a period of 36 months. The lease agreement stated in paragraph 10:
"Estimated Residual Value: The estimated value of the Vehicle at the scheduled end of the Lease Term. ***[W]e will use this amount in calculating the Purchase Option Price in the event you exercise your option to purchase (Paragraph 16) ***."
The amount listed as the estimated value was $17,314.24.
On November 21, 1998, Hayman's lease term expired and he exercised his option to purchase the vehicle. However, the "cash price of the vehicle" listed on the purchase agreement was $17,613.24, or $299 more than stated in the leasing agreement.
Without having the benefit of the leasing papers at the time he closed on the purchase, Hayman paid the $17,613.24 amount. Later, however, Hayman reviewed his lease agreement and noted the discrepancy. He then telephoned Autohaus for an explanation.
In a telephone conversation with an Autohaus finance agent on November 23, 1999, this $299 amount was represented to be a "service fee." Hayman balked at the hidden inclusion of such a fee and demanded the return of the $299. His request was not well-received. He was told, essentially, he could take the car with the service fee or bring the car back for a full refund. Incensed, Hayman called his attorney, who immediately made preparations to file suit against Autohaus.
In the meantime, Autohaus must have had second thoughts about its treatment of its customer. On November 25, 1998, just 2 days later, it sent Hayman a check for $299, refunding the full amount of the disputed service fee it had included in the purchase price of the car.
Hayman received the check on November 28, 1998, but refused to accept it. Instead, on December 30, 1998, he filed a four-count class action complaint against Autohaus and TMCC, alleging fraudulent misrepresentation and violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (815 ILCS 505/1 et seq. (West 1996)). In his complaint, Hayman sought to proceed as the representative of a class of persons similarly situated.
Defendants moved for dismissal and Hayman amended his complaint, adding a fifth count against both defendants, alleging conversion.
After a hearing on September 8, 1999, the trial court dismissed Hayman's Second Amended Complaint as to both defendants. The court found Hayman was unable to state any cause of action because Autohaus had tendered a check for $299 to Hayman before litigation began. Hayman appeals dismissal of the common law fraud and conversion counts, not the statutory consumer fraud counts. We review the section 2-619 (735 ILCS ...