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Lewis v. Heartland Food Corp.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

August 19, 2014

MARTIN EDWARD LEWIS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
HEARTLAND FOOD CORPORATION, BURGER KING CORPORATION, and BURGER KING No. 1250, Defendants-Appellees

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 11 CH 37090. Honorable James E. Snyder, Judge Presiding.

SYLLABUS

Plaintiff's action for compensatory and punitive damages arising from the theft of his iPhone by " four fellow customers" while plaintiff was at defendant fast-food restaurant was properly dismissed, notwithstanding plaintiff's allegations that " manned security" was not provided at the restaurant and defendants breached their duties to exercise ordinary care and caution, since defendants had no duty to protect customers from criminal activities of third persons in the absence of a " special relationship" between the parties, and even if there was a " special relationship," defendants would only be liable for physical harm caused by third persons; furthermore, in the absence of any indication that the franchisor voluntarily undertook a legal duty to provide security at the restaurant, the action against the franchisor was also properly dismissed.

For Appellant: Martin Edward Lewis is Pro Se.

For Appellee: Mulherin, Rehfeldt & Varchetto, P.C., of Wheaton (Stephen A. Rehfeldt, of counsel); Swanson, Martin & Bell LLP, of Chicago (Richard J. Keating, Jr., of counsel).

JUSTICE LIU delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Harris concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Pierce concurred in the judgment, without opinion.

OPINION

Page 220

LIU, J.

[¶1] Plaintiff Martin Edward Lewis appeals pro se from orders of the circuit court dismissing his case pursuant to section 2-615 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 2012)). On appeal, plaintiff asks this court, inter alia, " to review this instant case, reverse the lower court and remand for further proceedings in the lower court." For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

[¶2] In 2011, plaintiff filed a complaint against Heartland Food Corporation (Heartland), Burger King Corporation (BKC), and Burger King No. 1250, alleging that his iPhone was stolen by " four fellow customers" while he was at a Burger King restaurant in Chicago. Plaintiff asserted that by not providing " manned security" in the restaurant, defendants had negligently, as well as willfully and wantonly, breached their duties " to exercise ordinary care and caution and provide proper security in all of hours operation and the burden of management not to allow the criminal element to enter the premises so as to avoid causing injury and loss [of] personal property to Plaintiff" and " to provide notices of security and surveillance camera positions and monitors." Plaintiff sought $1,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages.

[¶3] BKC filed a motion to strike plaintiff's prayer for punitive damages, which was granted by the trial court. The trial court also entered an order dismissing " Burger King #1250" as a defendant. BKC and Heartland each filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to section 2-615 of the Code. After the motions were fully briefed and separate hearings were held, the trial court granted both motions to dismiss.

[¶4] Plaintiff appeals from the trial court's orders dismissing his case against BKC and Heartland. For the most part, his brief on appeal simply repeats the allegations in his complaint. He also complains that the trial court only allowed him a " one-minute" hearing and asks this court " to review this instant case, reverse the lower court and remand for further proceedings in the lower court." Plaintiff cites and discusses numerous cases that address negligence principles, but does not explain how he believes the trial court erred in dismissing his complaint.

[¶5] Illinois Supreme Court Rule 341(h)(7) (eff. Feb. 6, 2013) provides that an appellant's brief must contain contentions and the reasons therefor, with citation to the authorities upon which the appellant relies. As a reviewing court, we are entitled to have the issues clearly defined, pertinent authority cited, and a cohesive legal argument presented. Walters v. Rodriguez, 2011 IL App (1st) 103488, ¶ 5, 960 N.E.2d 1226, ...


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