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Burkhart v. Wolf Motors of Naperville, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

September 21, 2016

CARLA BURKHART, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
WOLF MOTORS OF NAPERVILLE, INC., d/b/a Toyota of Naperville, Defendant-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County, No. 14-AR-707; the Hon. Brian R. McKillip, Judge, presiding.

         Affirmed.

          Joshua M. Feagans and Kristin N. Stone, both of Griffin/Williams LLP, of Geneva, for appellant.

          James J. Laraia, of Laraia & Laraia, of Wheaton, for appellee.

          PRESIDING JUSTICE SCHOSTOK delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Hutchinson and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          SCHOSTOK PRESIDING JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 The defendant, Wolf Motors of Naperville, Inc., made a mistake in advertising one of its cars for sale. The plaintiff, Carla Burkhart, tried to purchase the car at the advertised price. After the defendant refused to honor its advertisement on the ground that the advertised price was an error, the plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that the defendant's actions constituted breach of contract and consumer fraud. The trial court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff appeals from that order. We affirm.

         ¶ 2 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 On May 5, 2014, the plaintiff filed a two-count complaint against the defendant, alleging breach of contract and violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (Act) (815 ILCS 505/2 (West 2014)). The complaint alleged that on September 23, 2013, the plaintiff saw that the defendant was advertising online at www.toyotacertified.com a 2011 Toyota 4Runner for $19, 991. The plaintiff contacted the defendant and indicated that she was interested in purchasing the vehicle. After the plaintiff test-drove the vehicle, she informed the defendant that she wanted to purchase the vehicle. The defendant's representative informed her that the price of the vehicle was $36, 991. The plaintiff responded that she wanted the advertised price of $19, 991. The defendant's representative confirmed that the vehicle had been advertised for $19, 991 but explained that the advertisement was a mistake. The defendant's manager subsequently offered to sell the plaintiff the vehicle "at cost"-$35, 000. The plaintiff refused to purchase the vehicle at that price.

         ¶ 4 The complaint alleged that the parties had a valid and enforceable contract for the vehicle at the advertised price of $19, 991 and that the defendant breached the agreement when it refused to sell the vehicle to the plaintiff at that price. Alternatively, the complaint alleged that the defendant committed consumer fraud and injured the plaintiff when it advertised the vehicle at a price for which it did not intend to sell. The defendant filed an answer to the plaintiff's complaint, denying all material allegations.

         ¶ 5 On May 22, 2015, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. The defendant argued that the erroneous advertisement did not constitute an offer that could be accepted so as to form a contract. The defendant further argued that its actions did not constitute consumer fraud because (1) it did not commit a deceptive act or practice, (2) it did not intend for the plaintiff to rely on any deceptive act or practice, and (3) the plaintiff did not incur any actual damages.

         ¶ 6 In support of its motion for summary judgment, the defendant submitted the deposition of its Internet director, Thomas Gregg. Gregg testified that the $19, 991 advertised price for the subject vehicle was a clerical error and that the correct price for the subject vehicle was $36, 991. He explained that the clerical error occurred with the entry of the subject vehicle into the Dealer Daily system. He testified that the person who had entered the vehicle into the Dealer Daily system was not very familiar with the process and was in training. The person had mistakenly entered the price of a different vehicle. After Gregg discovered on September 23, 2013, that the price was incorrectly displayed, he immediately updated the price in the dealership DMS system, which then updated the listing on Dealer Daily. He did not realize that the update in the system took approximately four days to appear on the Internet.

         ¶ 7 The defendant also submitted the deposition of its used-car sales manager, Bryan Lieser. Lieser testified that, as of September 24, 2013, the appraised value of the vehicle in question was between $32, 000 and $33, 000.

         ¶ 8 On July 9, 2015, the plaintiff filed a cross-motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff argued that she was entitled to summary judgment because (1) the defendant admitted that it refused to sell the vehicle to the plaintiff as advertised and, alternatively, (2) the defendant admitted ...


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