Schaffer v. Greenview Home Builders & Cabinetry Designers, Inc.

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Citation162 N.E.3d 363,2020 IL App (2d) 190230,443 Ill.Dec. 729
Docket NumberNo. 2-19-0230,2-19-0230
Parties Victoria SCHAFFER, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. GREENVIEW HOME BUILDERS AND CABINETRY DESIGNERS, INC. ; Yuri Birg; Rick Hiton & Associates, Inc.; Associated Bank, N.A.; and Chicago Title Insurance Company, Defendants (Associated Bank, N.A., and Rick Hiton & Associates, Inc., Defendants-Appellees).
Decision Date15 July 2020

2020 IL App (2d) 190230
162 N.E.3d 363
443 Ill.Dec.

Victoria SCHAFFER, Plaintiff-Appellant,
GREENVIEW HOME BUILDERS AND CABINETRY DESIGNERS, INC. ; Yuri Birg; Rick Hiton & Associates, Inc.; Associated Bank, N.A.; and Chicago Title Insurance Company, Defendants

(Associated Bank, N.A., and Rick Hiton & Associates, Inc., Defendants-Appellees).

No. 2-19-0230

Appellate Court of Illinois, Second District.

Opinion filed July 15, 2020

Jon B. Masini, of Masini, Vickers, Ruksakiati & Hadsell, P.C., of Chicago, for appellant.

Craig M. Capilla and Allie K. Haling, of Franklin Law Group, of Northfield, for appellee Rick Hiton & Associates, Inc.

Travis J. Eliason and Mark W. Bina, of Quarles & Brady LLP, of Chicago, for other appellee.

JUSTICE BRIDGES delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

443 Ill.Dec. 730

¶ 1 This case arose from a residential construction project in which plaintiff, Victoria Shaffer, contracted with Greenview Home Builders and Cabinetry Designers, Inc. (Greenview), to build a new home in

162 N.E.3d 365
443 Ill.Dec. 731

Highland Park. In her complaint, plaintiff alleged that Greenview did not complete the project and that there were deficiencies in the portions that it did complete. Plaintiff's original complaint named as defendants Greenview as well as its president, Yuri Birg, and Rick Hiton & Associates, Inc. (Hiton). Hiton had provided plaintiff with inspections and appraisals for her home construction. In amended complaints, plaintiff also alleged counts against Associated Bank, N.A. (Associated Bank), and Chicago Title Insurance Company (Chicago Title).

¶ 2 Following the trial court's grant of summary judgment for Associated Bank and Hiton, plaintiff filed several postjudgment motions more than 30 days after the entry of the judgments. In a February 21, 2019, order, the trial court determined that it lacked jurisdiction to rule upon any pending postjudgment motions. On appeal, plaintiff argues that the trial court did not lose jurisdiction, or, in the alternative, that it was revested with jurisdiction. We conclude that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to rule on the pending postjudgment motions and was not revested with jurisdiction.


¶ 4 On October 14, 2015, plaintiff filed her original complaint against Greenview, Birg, and Hiton. Plaintiff alleged five counts against Greenview, arising from its construction of her home, including breach of contract, express contractual indemnity, and negligence. Against Birg, plaintiff alleged one count of fraudulent misrepresentation, and against Hiton, plaintiff alleged one count of negligent misrepresentation. Her complaint sought compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees.

¶ 5 Plaintiff's first amended complaint, filed February 6, 2016, provided additional factual allegations but contained the same seven counts against the same three defendants.

¶ 6 Plaintiff moved for default judgments against Greenview and Birg on January 11, 2016. The trial court found them in default on January 21, and it set a hearing for February 24 for a prove-up of plaintiff's damages. At the February 24 hearing, the trial court entered a default judgment against Greenview and Birg, jointly and severally, in the amount of $352,577.70. Birg moved to vacate the default judgment on April 12, 2016, and the court vacated the default judgment against Birg in August 2016. The default against Greenview remained, and Greenview filed for bankruptcy in the Northern District of Illinois on May 17, 2016.

¶ 7 On October 13, 2016, plaintiff filed a second amended complaint against the original three defendants1 and added Associated Bank and Chicago Title. Plaintiff alleged two counts against Associated Bank: one for breach of contract and one for negligent misrepresentation. Against Chicago Title, she alleged one count for breach of contract. Her counts against the original three defendants remained the same.

¶ 8 On April 4, 2017, Birg filed for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy in the Northern District of Illinois. As of that date, the proceeding against Birg in the trial court was stayed. On April 12, 2017, plaintiff voluntarily dismissed without prejudice her claim against Birg.

162 N.E.3d 366
443 Ill.Dec. 732

¶ 9 On May 9, 2017, the trial court dismissed with prejudice plaintiff's negligent-misrepresentation claim against Associated Bank, leaving only the breach-of-contract claim against it. On June 6, the court dismissed with prejudice plaintiff's sole claim against Chicago Title.

¶ 10 On February 13, 2018, Hiton and Associated Bank (hereinafter referred to collectively as defendants) moved separately for summary judgment on the one count remaining against each of them. Plaintiff responded to each motion, and the court heard oral argument on the motions.

¶ 11 On June 14, 2018, the trial court granted summary judgment for defendants (June 14 order). The court determined that Associated Bank did not owe plaintiff a contractual duty and did not proximately cause plaintiff's alleged damages. The court ruled that Hiton did not owe plaintiff a legal duty and that plaintiff could not establish that she relied on Hiton's inspection reports.

¶ 12 The day after the trial court entered the June 14 order, the court e-mailed the parties regarding the entry of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 304(a) (eff. Mar. 8, 2016) language. The court noted that the case was still pending against Birg and Greenview, even though they were currently in bankruptcy court. Accordingly, the court continued, adding Rule 304(a) language to its order would be appropriate, and it asked if any parties objected to the entry of an amended order including the language. Plaintiff objected to the entry of the proposed amended order. Associated Bank responded that it did not object to the amended order, and it deferred to the court's decision. The court decided not to enter the amended order.

¶ 13 On July 25, 2018, plaintiff moved for leave to file a brief in excess of 15 pages, in order to support her forthcoming motions to reconsider the June 14 order. On August 1, 2018, the trial court denied plaintiff's motion for leave to file a brief in excess of 15 pages, and it entered a briefing schedule for her motions to reconsider. The hearing for both motions was set for September. Plaintiff filed her motions to reconsider on August 13, 2018, and defendants responded to her motions.

¶ 14 On August 31, 2018, Hiton moved to amend the June 14 order to include Rule 304(a) language. In addition to requesting Rule 304(a) language, Hiton argued that plaintiff's motions for reconsideration should be denied and/or stricken as untimely because they were filed more than 30 days after the June 14 order.

¶ 15 At a September 12, 2018, hearing, the court entered an amended briefing schedule for plaintiff's motions to reconsider and set a briefing schedule for Hiton's motion to add Rule 304(a) language. It set a hearing on all the motions for October 31. Before the hearing, plaintiff moved on October 23, 2018, for leave to file a third amended complaint.

¶ 16 At the October 31 hearing, the trial court questioned whether its June 14 order was a final order and, therefore, whether the court had jurisdiction to rule on the pending motions. The court set a briefing schedule on whether the order was final and whether it retained jurisdiction.

¶ 17 The trial court heard argument on the jurisdictional issue on February 21, 2019, and it ultimately ruled that the June 14 order was a final order. Accordingly, it determined that it had lost jurisdiction 30 days after the order was entered and that it had no jurisdiction to rule on the pending motions.

¶ 18 Plaintiff filed her notice of appeal on March 21, 2019.


¶ 20 Plaintiff makes two primary arguments on appeal. First, she argues that the

162 N.E.3d 367
443 Ill.Dec. 733

trial court erred when it determined that its June 14 order was a final order. Second, she argues in the alternative that, even if the June 14 order was a final order, the court was revested with jurisdiction to rule on the pending motions. We address her arguments in turn, and we review de novo questions relating to the trial court's jurisdiction. Mehalko v. Doe , 2018 IL App (2d) 170788, ¶ 16, 424 Ill.Dec. 978, 110 N.E.3d 328.

¶ 21 A. Final Order

¶ 22 Plaintiff argues that, for multiple reasons, the trial court's June 14 order was not a final order. Broadly, those arguments are that (1) under section 13-217 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) ( 735 ILCS 5/13-217 (West 2018) ), she could pursue claims against Birg after the June 14 order, and the trial court failed to properly consider and apply that section of the Code and (2) her voluntary dismissal of Birg was not final and appealable, because Birg's bankruptcy stay rendered the June 14 order interlocutory.

¶ 23 Beginning with section 13-217 of the Code, plaintiff argues that, following her...

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