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The City of Decatur, Illinois, A Municipal Corporation v. (No. 4-12-0456

April 16, 2013

THE CITY OF DECATUR, ILLINOIS, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
(NO. 4-12-0456)
DENNIS BALLINGER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT,
AND JOSEPH E. ABBOTT; VIRGINIA S. ABBOTT; MACON COUNTY, AS TRUSTEE; AND INTERSTATE FUNDING, DEFENDANTS.
THE CITY OF DECATUR, ILLINOIS, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
(NO. 4-12-0500) DENNIS BALLINGER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT,
AND TAMMY C. MICKLE; PATRICIA M. PERRY;
AND MACON COUNTY, AS TRUSTEE,
DEFENDANTS.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Macon County No. 06MR189 No. 09MR239 Honorable Albert G. Webber, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Turner

Carla Bender 4th District Appellate

JUSTICE TURNER delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Pope and Holder White concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 In these consolidated appeals, defendant, Dennis Ballinger, appeals two Macon County circuit court judgments finding in favor of plaintiff, the City of Decatur, Illinois (City), and holding Ballinger liable for demolition costs for improvements on two pieces of property in the City. Case No. 06-MR-189 (case 189) addressed the property commonly known as 803 East Lawrence Street, Decatur, Illinois (Property A), and had the following additional named defendants: Joseph E. Abbott; Virginia S. Abbott; Macon County, as trustee; and Interstate Funding. Case No. 09-MR-239 (case 239) involved the property commonly known as 1079 West Cerro Gordo, Decatur, Illinois (Property B), and had the following additional named defendants: Tammy C. Mickle, Patricia M. Perry; and Macon County, as trustee.

¶ 2 Ballinger appeals the two judgments, asserting (1) genuine issues of material fact exist in case 189 that prohibit the entry of summary judgment, and (2) the trial court erred by finding him liable for the demolition costs in both cases. We affirm.

¶ 3 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 4 A. Case 189

¶ 5 Pursuant to a November 1994 tax deed, Ballinger took title to Property A. In January 2002, Ballinger entered into an "agreement for deed" to sell Property A to Joseph and Virginia Abbott. In August 2003, the Abbotts stopped making payments to Ballinger and filed a petition for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy petition named Ballinger as a creditor and stated the Abbotts' intention to surrender Property A to Ballinger. In December 2003, the Abbotts received their discharge in the bankruptcy case. In May 2004, Ballinger recorded a quitclaim deed purporting to convey Property A to the Abbotts. On July 23, 2004, the Abbotts recorded an affidavit of disclaimer, stating they disclaimed any interest in Property A. On July 30, 2004, the City notified Ballinger and the Abbotts Property A was unfit for human habitation.

¶ 6 In a separate case, the City filed an October 2004 complaint against Ballinger and the Abbotts, asserting an ordinance violation on Property A. City of Decatur v. Abbott, No. 04- OV-943 (Cir. Ct. Macon Co.). In March 2005, the Macon County circuit court granted the City's motion to voluntarily dismiss Ballinger from the case. In December 2005, the court entered an order, finding Ballinger's quitclaim deed to the Abbotts was not (1) a completed gift of Property A to the Abbotts and (2) undertaken to comply with the terms of the agreement for deed. Thus, the court concluded the Abbotts had no ownership interest in Property A.

¶ 7 In March 2006, the City filed a complaint for demolition of the improvements on Property A at issue in this appeal. In addition to Ballinger and the Abbotts, the complaint listed Macon County, as trustee, and Interstate Funding as defendants because they held liens on Property A. The next month, Ballinger filed a motion to dismiss the City's complaint. The Abbotts also filed a response to the complaint, including an affirmative defense and affidavit. In May 2006, the trial court denied Ballinger's motion to dismiss. In October 2006, the City moved for summary judgment. In September 2007, the trial court held a hearing on the motion for summary judgment, at which the court took judicial notice of the 2004 ordinance violation case. At the conclusion of arguments, the court took the matter under advisement and allowed the parties to file written closing arguments. In October 2007, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the City, establishing Ballinger's responsibility to reimburse the City for the demolition costs associated with Property A. The October 2007 judgment did not address the amount of the demolition costs. On April 26, 2012, the court entered a $4,265 judgment against Ballinger for the demolition costs on Property A.

¶ 8 On May 16, 2012, Ballinger filed a timely notice of appeal in sufficient compliance with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 303(b) (eff. May 30, 2008). Thus, this court has jurisdiction of case 189 under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 301 (eff. Feb. 1, 1994).

¶ 9 B. Case 239

ΒΆ 10 Pursuant to a May 1999 tax deed, Ballinger took title to Property B. In September 2003, Ballinger entered into an "agreement for deed" to sell the Property B to defendants Mickle and Perry. On June 29, 2007, Ballinger filed a complaint for forcible entry and detainer against Mickle and Perry. Ballinger v. Mickle, No. 07-LM-609 (Cir. Ct. Macon Co.). On August 5, 2008, Perry executed a quitclaim deed, conveying her interest in Property B to Mickle. On August 28, 2008, the Macon County circuit court entered a judgment in the forcible entry and detainer case. The court concluded Mickle and Perry were in default under the terms of the September 2003 agreement. It entered a $31,094.17 default judgment in favor of Ballinger and against Mickle and a $5,000 judgment in favor of ...


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