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Lindy Lu LLC v. Illinois Central Railroad Company

February 22, 2013

LINDY LU LLC,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY, A DELAWARE CORPORATION, AND RAILWAY PROPERTY MANAGEMENT,
DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Marshall County, Illinois, Circuit No. 08-L-1 Honorable Scott A. Shore, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Lytton

JUSTICE LYTTON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Schmidt and O'Brien concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 Plaintiff, Lindy Lu LLC, along with others who purchased quitclaim deeds from defendants, Illinois Central Railroad Company and Railway Property Management, filed a six-count complaint against defendants, alleging, among other things, breach of contract. Plaintiff and defendants filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff also filed a motion for class certification. The trial court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment, denied plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and denied plaintiff's motion for class certification. We affirm.

¶ 2 FACTS

¶ 3 Defendant Illinois Central Railroad Company (Illinois Central) was incorporated in 1851. That same year, the legislature gave Illinois Central a large land grant and the ability to use condemnation of private property to build a railroad through the state of Illinois.

¶ 4 In 1852, Illinois Central filed a condemnation petition in the circuit court of Macon County to acquire a strip of land owned by Berry H. Capell. The petition was granted, and Illinois Central paid Capell $400 for the property. In 1856, Illinois Central finished construction of its "Main Line" from Cairo to Galena. A portion of the Main Line ran through and still runs through the property Illinois Central obtained from Capell.

¶ 5 Plaintiff Lindy Lu is a real estate holding company owned by Mark Allen. Allen owns a chain of oil change companies. Allen approached Illinois Central about purchasing property adjoining one of his businesses in Decatur and adjacent to the Main Line railroad. The parcel plaintiff sought to purchase was a portion of the property Illinois Central obtained from Capell in 1852. The parcel was approximately 20 feet wide and 420 feet long.

¶ 6 In October 2001, plaintiff entered into a contract with Illinois Central to pay $8,000 for the parcel. Illinois Central gave Lindy Lu a quitclaim deed for the property but retained an easement for a signal box and equipment.

¶ 7 Individuals and businesses that purchased property from 1980 to 2005 from Illinois Central and its agent, Railway Property Management, filed a class action complaint against defendants. On September 1, 2010, plaintiffs filed a motion for leave to file a third amended complaint that, among other things, added Lindy Lu LLC as a plaintiff. That motion was granted, and a third amended complaint was filed.

¶ 8 The third amended complaint contained six counts. Count I sought declaratory judgment; count II alleged breach of contract; count III alleged unjust enrichment; count IV alleged fraud; count V alleged fraudulent concealment; and count VI alleged violation of the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (815 ILCS 505/1 et seq. (West 2010)).

¶ 9 In October 2011, plaintiff filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the nature of the underlying interest Illinois Central held in the property conveyed to plaintiff. Plaintiff also filed a motion for class certification, seeking to certify the following class: "All individuals, entities, municipalities, state agencies or other governmental entities who paid money to [Illinois Central] for abandoned right-of-way property wherein the property sold was originally acquired by [Illinois Central] or another railroad pursuant to condemnation proceedings." Defendants filed a cross-motion for summary judgment against plaintiff.

¶ 10 Attached to defendants' motion for summary judgment was the discovery deposition of Mark Allen, plaintiff's owner. Allen testified that he has purchased property approximately 30 to 35 times. In 90% of those purchases, he secured title insurance. He did not secure title insurance with respect to the other sales because the amount of money he was spending did not "warrant the expense of title insurance." He did not obtain title insurance for the property he purchased from Illinois Central.

ΒΆ 11 Allen testified that he assumed that Illinois Central owned the subject property in fee simple since Illinois Central gave him a deed to the property. Before he purchased the property, no one ever told him that Illinois Central held fee simple title to the property or that Illinois Central was guaranteeing to provide Lindy Lu a fee simple ...


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