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DAIMLERCHRYSLER SERVICES N.A. v. N. CHICAGO MARKETING

April 2, 2004.

DAIMLERCHRYSLER SERVICES NORTH AMERICA, LLC, Plaintiff/Counter Defendant
v.
NORTH CHICAGO MARKETING, INC., and RICHARD J. SULLIVAN, Defendants/Counter Plaintiff's. RICHARD J. SULLIVAN, Third Party Plaintiff v. WILLIAM CALLAS NAZHA, Third Party Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT GETTLEMAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Daimlerchrysler Services North America LLC has brought a seven count second amended complaint against defendants North Chicago Marketing Inc. ("North Chicago"), Richard J. Sullivan, Laura Sullivan, R.S. Auto Brokers, Inc., and R.S. Auto Associates, Inc., alleging breach of contract, action on account, and breach of a promissory note (Counts I through Ill); breach of a personal guaranty against Sullivan (Count IV); conversion against North Chicago and Sullivan (Count V); and fraudulent transfer against North Chicago, Sullivan, Laura Sullivan, R.S. Auto Brokers and R.S-Auto Associates (Count VI and VII), all arising out of North Chicago's breach of a security agreement ("floor Plan Financing Agreement"). Plaintiff has Page 2 moved for summary judgment on Counts I through III against North Chicago. For the reasons set Forth below the motion is granted.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY/FACTS

  This action began as a simple suit by plaintiff to collect a loan it made to North Chicago and a. personal guaranty of that loan by Richard Sullivan, the President of North Chicago. Both North Chicago and Sullivan answered and counterclaimed, North Chicago claimed that the loan documents were secured through fraudulent inducement, and Sullivan claimed fraud in the execution or in the alternative negligent misrepresentation. On February 7, 2003, plaintiff's motion to dismiss the counterclaims was denied as to North Chicago but granted as to Sullivan. Daimleichrysler Services North America, LLC v. North Chicago Marketing, Inc., No. 02 C 5633 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 7, 2003). On February 18, 2003, both North Chicago and Sullivan filed separate Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petitions. North Chicago's bankruptcy trustee reported no assets and the North Chicago bankruptcy was dismissed.

  Plaintiff filed an adversary proceeding in Sullivan's bankruptcy seeking a money judgment from Sullivan on. his guaranty, a determination that the judgment is non-dischargable under 11 U.S.C. ยง 523, and a denial of discharge of Sullivan's debts. Sullivan counterclaimed raising fraudulent inducement.

  Defendants Laura Sullivan ("Laura") and R.S. Auto Associates. Inc. ("R.S, Associates") were added as defendants in plaintiffs second amended complaint. Sullivan, Laura, and R.S. Associates moved to dismiss or for abstention, To resolve that, motion the court withdrew the reference of the adversary proceeding. Sullivan, Laura and R.S. Associates have indicated an Page 3 intent to answer, raise affirmative defenses and file counterclaims based on an affidavit filed by Sullivan in response to plaintiff's motion for summary judgment against North Chicago.*fn1

  According to that affidavit, Sullivan formed a joint venture (North Chicago) with William Nazha to create and operate a used car dealership, Nazha arranged for financing, and Sullivan was to manage the day-to-day operations, Sullivan was the president. Nazha was not a corporate officer.

  After North Chicago was incorporated, Nazha told Sullivan that plaintiff would provide "Floor Plan Financing," On April 7, 2000, Brian Zandstra, a representative of plaintiff, arrived unannounced at North Chicago with a stack of documents for Sullivan to sign. Sullivan initially told Zandstra that he did not want to sign and tried to reach Nazha by telephone. Zandstra then told Sullivan that Sullivan (and not Nazha) needed to sign because Sullivan was the President of North Chicago and Nazha could not sign on behalf of the corporation. He then told Sullivan that [he documents "were part of a corporate promissory note," that "Nazha had already approved the papers and agreed to sign them and his personal guaranty, and that Zandstra was meeting with Nazha in plaintiff's office that afternoon." Zandstra assured Sullivan that "Nazha would be personally liable if anything went wrong with the Floor Plan Financing" and that the Floor Plan Financing would open as soon as Nazha "completed the transaction" with plaintiff. Based on these representations Sullivan signed the documents without reading them. Page 4

  Sullivan asked for copies of the documents he had signed. Zandstra copied the corporate note and two riders, gave them to Sullivan and promised to send the remaining documents "after Bill [Nazha] signed the at [plaintiff's] office and the deal was complete.

  It is undisputed that Nazha never signed the loan documents or any guaranty of the loan. There is no evidence that plaintiff had ever even prepared a personal guaranty for Nazha to sign. Plaintiff opened the floor plan despite Nazha's refusal to lend his credit to the transaction.

  DISCUSSION

  To recover on a promissory note, plaintiff must show that: (1) North Chicago executed the security agreement and promissory note; (2) plaintiff is the holder of the note; and (3) North Chicago has no viable defense. See Basil v. Stelle, 237 Ill. App.3d 113, 115-16 (2d Dist 1992). To prevail on its breach of contract claim, plaintiff must establish: (1) the existence of a. valid and enforceable contract; (2) performance by plaintiff; (3) breach of the contract by North Chicago; and (4) resulting injury to plaintiff. Gallagher Corp. v. Russ, 309 Ill. App.3d 192, 199 (1st Dist. 1999)

  In the instant case, it is undisputed that Sullivan, acting on behalf of North Chicago, executed the security agreement and promissory note, that plaintiff is the holder of the note and performed its obligations, that North Chicago has failed to pay on the note, and plaintiff has been injured. North Chicago argues that it was fraudulently induced to execute the documents, however, challenging plaintiff's ability to establish the third element of the promissory note count (no viable defense) and the first element of the breach of contract count (a valid and enforceable contract). Page 5

  In response, plaintiff argues that even if all of Sullivan's factual assertions are accepted as true, North Chicago's fraudulent inducement defense is barred by the Illinois Credit Agreement Act ("ICAA"), 815 ILCS 160/2, 3, which bars all actions by a debtor based on or related to an oral credit agreement.*fn2 First National ...


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