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Arient v. Shaik

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division

June 12, 2015

SCOTT ARIENT, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
NAZEER SHAIK, DR. SHAK'S AND SCOTT'S INC. and SCOTT'S PET SHOP INC., Defendants-Appellees

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 2011 L 006026. The Honorable Margaret Ann Brennan, Judge, presiding.

For APPELLANT: Zane D. Smith, Zane D. Smith & Assoc., Chicago, IL.; S.A. Genson, The Law Office of Sheila A. Genson, Ltd., Schaumburg, IL.

For APPELLEE: Thomas E. Patterson, Michael D. Haeberle, The Patterson Law Firm, LLC, Chicago, IL.

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

OPINION

GORDON, JUSTICE.

Page 118

[¶1] In the case at bar, defendant Nazeer Shaik purchased plaintiff Scott Arient's pet shop, and plaintiff remained as an employee. There were three agreements: an employee agreement whereby plaintiff continued to work at the shop; and a purchase agreement, as well as an asset purchase agreement, whereby defendant purchased the shop. In 2011, defendant closed the pet shop and plaintiff sued alleging breach of contract. On November 21, 2013, a jury rendered a verdict against plaintiff on his claims and against defendant on his counterclaims. As a result, the trial court issued an order stating that no monetary award was entered against either party.[1]

[¶2] On this appeal, plaintiff seeks a new trial and raises one issue. He claims that the trial court abused its discretion when it barred him from admitting certain evidence. In response, defendant claims, among other things, that plaintiff forfeited this issue by failing to file a posttrial motion. The jury verdict and the trial court's order were both entered on November 21, 2013. Less than a month later, plaintiff filed a notice of appeal on December 19, 2013, without first filing a posttrial motion.

[¶3] For the following reasons, we agree that this issue is forfeited for our consideration.

[¶4] BACKGROUND

[¶5] Since we are presented with a purely legal question which requires us to interpret the words of a statute and rule, we provide here only a summary of the facts.

[¶6] The facts established at trial are that defendant was a longstanding customer of Scott's Pet Shop in Westchester, Illinois, which was owned by plaintiff. On January 17, 2008, defendant purchased the shop. To facilitate the purchase, the parties signed three documents: an employment agreement whereby plaintiff remained as an employee after defendant's purchase; a purchase agreement; and an asset purchase agreement. In June 2009, defendant terminated plaintiff's employment for alleged breaches of the employment agreement. In early 2011, defendant closed the shop and, on June 9, 2011, plaintiff filed this lawsuit.

[¶7] Plaintiff alleged a breach of both the employment agreement and the purchase agreement, and sought an accounting and other relief. Defendant then alleged two counterclaims for breach of contract and conversion.

[¶8] On appeal, plaintiff raises only one issue, which is an alleged evidentiary error by the trial court. Plaintiff alleges that the trial court erred by barring him from asking defendant whether Dr. Ghouse,[2] defendant's brother-in-law, took $500 in cash out of the register every night.

[¶9] The question arose during the following testimony concerning the store's daily deposits:

Page 119

" PLAINTIFF'S COUNSEL: And so [plaintiff] would provide *** you [with] a copy of the deposit slip of how much money was deposited that day, together with the printout from the cash register so that you could keep track of the sales, right? You knew what the shop was doing? Right? You have to say yes or right.
DEFENDANT: Yes.
PLAINTIFF'S COUNSEL: And sometimes [plaintiff] would deliver this information to your brother-in-law, and that's Dr. [Ghouse], Dr. [Ghouse]?
DEFENDANT: Dr. [Ghouse].
PLAINTIFF'S COUNSEL: And sometimes [plaintiff] would deliver this information to your brother-in-law; is that right?
DEFENDANT: Yes.
PLAINTIFF'S COUNSEL: Did your brother-in-law ever come to the shop to collect any money?
DEFENDANT: He went to the shop on a daily basis?
PLAINTIFF'S COUNSEL: Dr. [Ghouse]?
DEFENDANT: Yes.
PLAINTIFF'S COUNSEL: And when he went to the shop on a daily basis, did he remove or take cash from the register?
DEFENDANT: Are you implying he steal[s] cash?
PLAINTIFF'S COUNSEL: Not at all. I'm asking you, did Dr. [Ghouse] on a daily basis come in and take cash, remove ...

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