1472 N. MILWAUKEE, LTD., and David J. Ginople, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
Lyle FEINERMAN, Defendant-Appellant.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Karlin Eide LLP, of Chicago (Lawrence M. Karlin, of counsel), for appellant.
Robert Habib, of Chicago, for appellees.
[374 Ill.Dec. 960] OPINION
¶ 1 Defendant, Lyle Feinerman (Feinerman), appeals from the judgment of the circuit court of Cook County awarding plaintiffs, 1472 N. Milwaukee, Ltd., and David J. Ginople, damages for breach of a real estate sales contract. Following a bench trial, the trial court awarded plaintiffs $212,964.40 in damages that was later reduced to $194,125.44. Feinerman appeals the judgment awarding plaintiffs general damages and consequential damages comprised of " carrying costs" for mortgage interest expense and real estate taxes incurred during the period between the failed closing and the later resale of the real estate. Defendant's appeal takes issue with the sufficiency of the evidence submitted by plaintiffs to establish direct and consequential damages. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
¶ 2 BACKGROUND
¶ 3 The following facts were established at trial. Plaintiff David J. Ginople was the sole shareholder of 1472 N. Milwaukee, Ltd. (1472 Ltd.), the owner of record of a commercial building located at 1472 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. Ginople owned and operated a clothing resale business on the first-floor commercial space of the property. On July 27, 2006, Ginople entered into an exclusive listing agreement with real estate broker Claudia Langman authorizing Langman to list the real estate for sale at a price of $995,000. Ginople's listing agreement provided that Langman would market the property with the disclosure that Ginople wanted to either lease or buy back the first-floor commercial space.
[374 Ill.Dec. 961] ¶ 4 On September 27, 2006, defendant Feinerman entered into a written contract for the purchase of the real estate at an agreed contract price of $1,200,000. The closing date set forth in the contract was November 17, 2006. A rider attached to the contract provided for 1472 Ltd. to lease back the first-floor commercial space at a specified rental rate from the closing date until February 15, 2007, allowing Ginople to move his inventory to another location. Feinerman failed to appear for closing on the agreed date, and again failed to appear at a later agreed-upon closing date, December 8, 2006.
¶ 5 In January, 2007, the property was relisted for sale for $1.2 million. That same month, Ginople signed a sales contract for $1,145,500 which did not close because the parties could not agree on certain insurance indemnification issues. Another potential sale in March 2007 for $1,000,500 failed because the potential purchasers wanted 120 days to close. Finally, on May 23, 2007, plaintiffs agreed to sell the building to 1472 Partners, Ltd., a company partially owned by the plaintiffs' former real estate broker, for $911,500. The sale closed on July 30, 2007, eight months after the first Feinerman failed closing.
¶ 6 On March 17, 2009, plaintiffs filed this action in the circuit court of Cook County for breach of real estate sales contract. At trial, defendant conceded liability on the breach of contract claim; however, he contested plaintiffs' claim for damages. After presiding over a trial marked by repeated and prolonged interruptions by counsel for both parties and repetitive, redundant and oftentimes confusing positions advanced by the attorneys, the trial court awarded damages in favor of plaintiffs consisting of general damages amounting to the difference in sales price between defendant's agreed purchase price of $1.2 million and the July 2007 sale price of $911,500. The court reduced this award by $60,000, which was the commission that would have been paid by plaintiffs on the failed Feinerman contract (and not due on the later sale), and a further reduction of $25,768 was made representing the amount of rent plaintiffs would have paid under the failed contract from November 2006 to the closing date of the later sale, July 30, 2007.
¶ 7 With respect to the award of consequential damages, the court awarded plaintiffs $10,000 for interest paid on a mortgage during the " carry period" (the period of time between the date of the breach and the later sale). The court also awarded consequential damages of $1,100 in attorney fees incurred due to the failed closing and $675 paid by plaintiffs for a land survey, neither amount is contested on appeal. As the court was about to award damages for real estate taxes incurred during the carry period, counsel once again engaged in argument and contentious commentary prompting the court to continue the matter to allow for the submission of additional information on that issue.
¶ 8 After the court considered posttrial submissions, the court made an award of $23,457.40 in consequential damages for real estate taxes incurred by plaintiffs during the carry period.
¶ 9 The defendant filed a timely motion for reconsideration contesting the ...