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Mobley v. Tramco Transmission, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Sixth Division

May 16, 2014

MICHELLE MOBLEY and VALERIE MOBLEY, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
TRAMCO TRANSMISSION, INC., an Illinois Business Corporation, d/b/a Tramcar Transmission, Defendant-Appellee

Page 628

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. 10 M1 125438. Honorable Sidney A. Jones III, Judge Presiding.

SYLLABUS

In an action alleging that defendant violated the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act based on its violation of the Automotive Repair Act in connection with work on the transmission of plaintiffs' automobile, the denial of plaintiffs' motion for a new trial was reversed and the cause was remanded for a new trial, since the central issue in the case was whether defendant had the right to claim a possessory lien on the vehicle even though it violated the Automotive Repair Act by performing unauthorized work without providing a written estimate and an invoice itemizing the work performed, and under the circumstances, the trial court's refusal to give plaintiffs' proposed instruction based on section 75 of the Automotive Repair Act was reversible error.

For Appellants: James A. Smith, The Law Offices of James A. Smith, Chicago, Illinois.

For Appellee: Michael H. Shin, The Law Offices of Michael H. Shin, Chicago, Illinois.

JUSTICE HALL delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Rochford and Justice Reyes concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

HALL JUSTICE.

Page 629

[¶1] Plaintiffs Valerie Mobley and her daughter Michelle Mobley appeal from the judgment entered on the jury's verdict dismissing their claims against defendant TramCo Transmission, Inc. (Tramco), d/b/a Tramcar Transmission. Plaintiffs also appeal the jury's verdict finding in favor of Tramco and against Michelle Mobley on Tramco's counterclaim against plaintiffs. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand for a new trial.

[¶2] The following background facts and summary of testimony are taken from the bystander's report and the record filed on appeal. This case involves a dispute over matters relating to the alleged unauthorized work performed on the automobile transmission in a 1992 Subaru SVX coupe. The vehicle was purchased by Valerie Mobley and titled in Michelle Mobley's name. Michelle was the principal driver.

[¶3] In February 2009, the Subaru developed transmission problems. Plaintiffs searched on the Internet for a repair shop and found a website called " Best Transmissions," which represented that it had nationwide repair facilities. Best Transmissions was described as a broker that refers auto repair jobs to various transmission shops such as Tramco. Valerie called the phone number listed on the website and spoke with a salesman who informed her that a neighborhood shop would do the repair work on her vehicle, that no work would be done without a prior estimate and customer authorization, and there would be no charge in the event she decided not to have the work done.

[¶4] On February 5, 2009, plaintiffs received an email from Best Transmissions which contained an agreement for authorization of work. Michelle signed the agreement and Best Transmissions made arrangements to tow the Subaru for repairs. The agreement indicated that the price for a transmission repair job not involving " hard parts" would be $1,397, which included a brokerage fee, a soft parts rebuild, O-rings, gaskets, and reseal and springs.

[¶5] On February 6, 2009, a tow truck came to take the Subaru. Valerie claimed the tow men would not tell her where they were taking the vehicle. On February 9, 2009, Valerie had a telephone conversation with a person at Best Transmissions named " Ron," who provided her with the phone number of the repair shop where the Subaru was towed. Valerie did a reverse check on the phone number and discovered it was associated with Tramco, located at 5950 N. Milwaukee Avenue, in Chicago, Illinois. Tramco was located almost 30 miles from where plaintiffs lived in Lisle, Illinois. Valerie claimed it was important to her that the repair shop be " local." From her perspective, Tramco was not local.

[¶6] On February 10, 2009, Valerie had a telephone conversation with a man who identified himself as Gary Amelong, foreman of the Tramco repair shop. Valerie asked him why her vehicle had been towed ...


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