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Estate of James v. Tondini

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

January 27, 2014

ESTATE OF CHARLES R. JAMES, JAMES STROUD, Independent Executor, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
KEVIN TONDINI, d/b/a Tondini's Towing and Storage, Defendant-Appellant

Rule 23 order filed January 2, 2014.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Williamson County. No. 11-P-58. Honorable James R. Moore, Judge, presiding.

Affirmed.

SYLLABUS

In an action arising from the towing of a vehicle pursuant to the investigation of the homicide of the vehicle's owner, the trial court properly held that the towing company did not have a lien for the towing and storage of the vehicle then owned by the decedent's estate, since none of the statutory requirements of the Illinois Vehicle Code for a lien applied, including, inter alia, the facts that the vehicle was not abandoned, lost, stolen, or unclaimed, it was not left unattended on a toll highway, interstate highway, or expressway for 2 hours or more, and it was not left on a highway in an urban district 10 hours or more but, rather, the vehicle was towed from decedent's private property.

For Appellant: Keith W. Kibler, Kibler Law Office, Marion, IL.

For Appellee: Angela E. Kochan, Kochan & Kochan, P.C., Herrin, IL.

JUSTICE WEXSTTEN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Welch and Justice Chapman concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

WEXSTTEN, JUSTICE

Page 510

The defendant, Kevin Tondini, doing business as Tondini's Towing and Storage, appeals the December 5, 2012, order of the circuit court of Williamson County holding that the defendant did not have a lien for towing and storage of an automobile owned by the plaintiff, the estate of Charles R. James (the Estate), pursuant to section 4-204 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/4-204 (West 2010)). For reasons discussed herein, we affirm the decision of the circuit court.

BACKGROUND

This appeal centers around the defendant's towing and storage fees for a 2008 Toyota Prius (Prius or vehicle), which belonged to the decedent, Charles R. James, who died as the result of a homicide on May 24, 2011. The following day, on May 25, 2011, as part of the homicide investigation, the Williamson County sheriff's department authorized and ordered the defendant to tow the Prius from the decedent's private property and impound it. The defendant has been in business for over 33 years as Tondini Wrecker Service and does towing work for various law enforcement agencies in the Williamson County area.

On October 7, 2011, James Stroud, acting as independent executor of the Estate, sent a letter to the Williamson County State's Attorney, with a courtesy copy to Williamson County Sheriff Bennie Vick, requesting release of the Prius. The Williamson County sheriff's department released its hold on the Prius on April 22, 2012. The defendant's total bill for towing and storage amounted to $10,818. The defendant states that the bill was submitted but never paid. On May 21, 2012, the defendant filed a claim against the Estate for the amount of $10,818, to which Stroud, as independent executor, filed an objection as well as a notice of disallowance of claim and motion to dismiss, on June 11, 2012.

On August 20, 2012, the Williamson County sheriff's ...


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