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Bale v. Barnhart

July 18, 2003

MARTIN L. BALE, D/B/A BALE EXCAVATING AND FARM DRAINAGE, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
WILLIAM F. BARNHART; MARIDEL L. BARNHART, A/K/A DEBBIE BARNHART; THE HUNTINGTON MORTGAGE COMPANY; UNKNOWN OWNERS AND NON-RECORD CLAIMANTS, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from Circuit Court of McLean County No. 01CH187 Honorable Elizabeth A. Robb, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Knecht

UNPUBLISHED

Plaintiff Martin L. Bale, d/b/a Bale Excavating and Farm Drainage, filed suit against defendants, William F. Barnhart, Maridel L. Barnhart, and Huntington Mortgage Company (Huntington), seeking to foreclose a mechanic's lien. Defendants separately moved to dismiss the complaint under section 2-619 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 2002)). The circuit court held the claim for lien improperly described the claimant as Carla Bale and granted the defendants' motions.

Bale appeals and argues (1) the claim for lien was proper; and (2) the complaint nevertheless perfected the lien. In a combined appellee brief, defendants contend the appeal is premature and this court lacks jurisdiction. We agree in part. We dismiss as untimely the appeal of the order granting the Barnharts' motion to dismiss, and we affirm the order granting Huntington's motion to dismiss.

I. BACKGROUND

Bale filed his complaint on September 19, 2001. According to the complaint, Bale and the Barnharts verbally contracted for Bale to create a one-acre pond on the Barnharts' property. Bale completed his contractual obligations and services on September 30, 2000. The fair market value of the services and the building materials provided by Bale to the Barnharts was at least $8,540.82.

The complaint further alleges Huntington held a mortgage lien on the Barnharts' property, where Bale performed his services. Bale asserts his lien has priority over this mortgage lien.

Attached to the complaint is a copy of the claim of lien, pursuant to section 7 of the Mechanics Lien Act (Act) (770 ILCS 60/7 (West 2000)), filed in the McLean County recorder's office on October 13, 2000.

On March 13, 2002, the Barnharts moved to dismiss the complaint under section 2-619 of the Code (735 ILCS 2-619 (West 2002)). The Barnharts argued, in part, the complaint is deficient because the claim for lien failed to comply with the requirements of the Act and the lien was thus not perfected. Following a hearing on April 22, 2002, the circuit court agreed with the Barnharts and granted the motion to dismiss. On May 21, 2002, Bale moved for reconsideration and rehearing. The court, on August 7, 2002, denied Bale's motion to reconsider. On August 12, 2002, Bale moved for specific findings and clarification.

On June 24, 2002, Huntington moved to dismiss the complaint. Later, on August 19, 2002, Huntington moved for immediate dismissal. The circuit court agreed with Huntington and granted the motion on August 29, 2002. On that same date, the circuit court denied Bale's motion to clarify. In its order granting Huntington's motion to dismiss and denying the motion for clarification, the circuit court found "no just cause to delay either enforcement or appeal or both of this [o]rder."

Bale filed notice of appeal on September 6, 2002. On September 23, 2002, the Barnharts moved to recover attorney fees under section 17 of the Act. 770 ILCS 60/17 (West 2002).

II. ANALYSIS

A. Appellate Jurisdiction

Bale appeals the orders dismissing his complaint and denying his motion to reconsider the dismissal of the complaint against the Barnharts.

In their jurisdictional statement, defendants dispute Bale's contention this court has jurisdiction under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 303 (155 Ill. 2d R. 303). Defendants contend jurisdiction, if any, exists under Rule 304(a) (155 Ill. 2d R. 304(a)). In their brief, however, ...


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