from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, No. 16-L-231; the
Hon. Christopher T. Kolker, Judge, presiding.
Giacoletto, of Giacoletto Law Firm, of Collinsville, for
Stephen M. Kernan, of Cook, Ysursa, Bartholomew, Brauer &
Shevlin, Ltd., of Belleville, for appellee.
JUSTICE GOLDENHERSH delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Chapman and Overstreet concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 This appeal arises from a complaint filed by plaintiff,
Gleeson Asphalt, Inc., against defendant, the City of
Collinsville, Illinois, in the circuit court of St. Clair
County. Defendant subsequently filed a motion for transfer to
proper venue, asserting plaintiff's action should be
transferred to the circuit court of Madison County because
defendant's principal office is located exclusively in
Madison County and the transactions giving rise to
plaintiff's cause of action occurred in Madison County.
The trial court denied defendant's motion, noting
plaintiff's pleadings alleged that part of the underlying
occurrences giving rise to its cause of action occurred in
St. Clair County. Defendant filed a timely notice of appeal.
For the following reasons, we affirm.
3 Plaintiff filed a complaint against defendant on April 25,
2016, in the circuit court of St. Clair County, alleging
defendant failed to pay plaintiff for a construction project
completed in the city of Collinsville. The complaint
indicates plaintiff is an Illinois corporation licensed and
doing business in the State of Illinois (State), and
defendant is a municipal corporation under the laws of the
State whose boundaries encompass properties located in both
Madison County and St. Clair County. The pertinent details of
plaintiff's complaint are as follows.
4 The complaint asserted that on or about July 19, 2012,
plaintiff was awarded a contract with the State for
construction and improvements to South Clinton Street located
in Collinsville, part of which street and improvements were
located in St. Clair County (Clinton Project). The complaint
indicates Oates & Associates, a civil and structural
engineering firm licensed in Illinois, was employed by
defendant as its project engineer.
5 After several delays to the project, plaintiff alleged
defendant "acknowledged the delay and agreed [plaintiff]
would have additional expenses due" via an e-mail dated
May 3, 2013, signed by David Ogle. Ogle was an engineer
employed by Oates & Associates. Plaintiff alleged
Ogle's e-mail stated that defendant agreed to pay the
additional expenses incurred by plaintiff due to the project
being delayed and further stated it wished to handle
plaintiff's claims for payment of additional expenses
separate from plaintiff's existing contract with the
State. The complaint indicated the work to be performed by
plaintiff was still controlled by its contract with the
State, which provided plaintiff was:
"to do all the work, furnish all materials and all labor
necessary to complete the work in accordance with the plans
and specifications hereinafter described, and in full
compliance with all of the terms of this agreement."
Plaintiff alleged the additional expenses it incurred due to
delays in the project totaled $159, 525.81. Plaintiff argued
that, despite its compliance with the plans for the Clinton
Project and the Illinois Department of Transportation's
standard specifications for such construction, defendant
failed to make any payments.
6 Defendant filed a motion to transfer venue to Madison
County on June 7, 2016, alleging there was no transaction or
some part thereof that occurred in St. Clair County that
would provide the circuit court of St. Clair County with
jurisdiction over plaintiff's cause of action. Defendant
asserted plaintiff's complaint arises out of construction
and improvements to South Clinton Street in Collinsville,
Illinois, all of which is located in Madison County.
Defendant's motion acknowledged defendant is an Illinois
municipal corporation with corporate limits located in both
Madison County and St. Clair County but noted its principal
office is located exclusively in Madison County. Defendant
further claimed there was no contract between plaintiff and
defendant that would give rise to the allegations in
plaintiff's complaint, and even if there was, any major
public improvements contracted by defendant would have to be
approved by defendant's city council at city hall, which
is exclusively located in Madison County. Defendant also
noted plaintiff's complaint alleged Oates &
Associates was an agent of defendant and stated Oates &
Associates is located entirely in Madison County.
7 Plaintiff filed a response to defendant's motion to
transfer on August 23, 2016, asserting defendant's motion
should be denied because at least some of defendant's
wrongful conduct regarding the contract occurred in St. Clair
County and all of defendant's tortious conduct occurred
in St. Clair County. In support of its position, plaintiff
noted the website of Oates & Associates, which again
plaintiff claimed was an agent of defendant, disclosed it has
an office in St. Clair County, and Oates & Associates
sent e-mails directed to the offices of plaintiff in St.
Clair County. Regarding defendant's claim that there was
no valid contract between the parties, plaintiff argued
defendant's communication through Ogle of Oates &
Associates in the May 3, 2013, e-mail evidences the agreement
between the parties to handle this portion of plaintiff's
expenses separate from plaintiff's contract with the
State. Plaintiff asserted defendant was at least a
third-party beneficiary of that contract. Plaintiff further
noted that defendant's street department is located in
St. Clair County, and the director of defendant's street
department, Rod Cheatham, sent a letter to plaintiff's
office in St. Clair County regarding the Clinton Project.
Plaintiff asserted the representations made by
defendant's agents were directed to ...