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Freedman v. Muller

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division

June 30, 2015

CARMELA FREEDMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
MICHAEL MULLER, Defendant-Appellee

As Corrected.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 12 L 11633. Honorable Sanjay T. Tailor, Judge Presiding.

For PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT: Mark T. Neil, MARK T. NEIL & ASSOCIATES, Chicago, Illinois.

For DEFENDANT-APPELLEE: Alvin R. Becker, Matthew D. Elster, BEERMAN PRITIKIN MIRABELLI SWEERDLOVE LLP, Chicago, Illinois.

JUSTICE CONNORS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Delort and Justice Cunningham concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

CONNORS, JUSTICE.

[¶1] Plaintiff, Carmela Freedman, appeals from an order of the circuit court that dismissed a claim for palimony in Freedman's second amended complaint pursuant to section 2-615 of the Code of Civil Procedure (the Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 2012)). Freedman asserted this claim against Michael Muller, with whom Freedman had been romantically involved for a number of years. On appeal, Freedman contends that dismissal of the palimony claim was improper because unmarried cohabitants should have recognized property rights and the case that the court relied on, Hewitt v. Hewitt, 77 Ill.2d 49, 394 N.E.2d 1204, 31 Ill.Dec. 827 (1979), is based on foundations that have either been repealed or are not reflective of current society. We affirm.

[¶2] This appeal concerns Freedman's second amended complaint (complaint), which was filed on October 23, 2013. In addition to the palimony claim, Freedman's complaint also asserted causes of action for constructive trust, unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, implied contract, and promissory estoppel. Only the palimony claim is at issue in this appeal.

[¶3] In her complaint, Freedman, a professional hairdresser, stated that beginning in 1998, she and Muller, a " wealthy businessman and public figure" who owned several car dealerships, began a " long term intimate and confidential relationship as cohabitants." Freedman also stated that although defendant was legally separated from his wife and told Freedman he would never divorce his wife, Freedman and Muller " lived a life for more than a decade as any married couple would." According to Freedman, she and Muller lived together, traveled together, and socialized with one another's friends, families, and acquaintances. Freedman stated that during their relationship, she and Muller lived either at her house in Northbrook or at Muller's apartment in Chicago. Further, Muller paid for all expenses associated with travel and their social life, as well as certain of Freedman's home expenses.

[¶4] Freedman alleged that sometime in 2003, Muller convinced her to transfer her Northbrook house to him based on Muller's misrepresentation that he would either transfer the title back to Freedman and pay all the expenses and maintenance on the house, or buy her a larger, more valuable replacement property for approximately $650,000. Freedman stated that, ultimately, Muller became the sole owner of the house by paying off the outstanding mortgage and taking the title in his name. According to Freedman, because of this transaction, she lost title to the house and approximately $10,000 in equity in the property. Freedman additionally stated that after Muller acquired title to the home, he demanded that Freedman remove her belongings from the house because he was going to start renovations and buy new furniture.

[¶5] Freedman further stated that in late 2003 or early 2004, Muller convinced Freedman to move into his Chicago apartment. According to Freedman, Muller also insisted that she cut back the time she spent as a hairdresser " since [Muller] wanted [Freedman] to be available at his beck and call." Freedman agreed to this and " significantly reduced the time spent in her business."

[¶6] Freedman's complaint also included allegations about her condominium in Chicago, which until 2005, she had rented to third parties as a source of income. Freedman stated that in February 2005, Muller convinced her to sell the condominium and misrepresented to her that if she did so, he would buy her a three- to six-unit building that she would manage and own. However, this replacement property was never purchased. Freedman also stated that when she sold the condominium, Muller also promised to buy her another condominium for as much as $650,000, but this never occurred either.

[¶7] Freedman additionally alleged in her complaint that she had twice cared for Muller when he was ill. In 1998, when Muller was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, Freedman oversaw Muller's care and rehabilitation, and continued to obtain certain enzymes and antioxidants for him through January 2013. According to Freedman, after Muller was cured, he made Freedman promise that she would groom and cut his hair and take care of his medical care, health care, and personal needs. Freedman also stated that in August 2011, Muller had surgery after it was discovered that he had a lung tumor. At that time, Muller convinced Freedman that if she would take care of him physically and emotionally, he would take care of her financially. Freedman agreed and placed Muller " on a regime of Protesase after his surgery." Freedman alleged that Muller declined to put his promises in writing and failed to follow through on those promises.

[¶8] Freedman also alleged that during their relationship, she and Muller developed a business and personal relationship with the chief executive officer of Honda and that, thanks in part to Freedman's efforts, ...


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