Law-Of-The-Case Doctrine Does Not Bar First District Illinois Appellate Court From Considering Existence Of Contract

John Miller sued a real estate broker and the seller of a residential property over a dispute that arose when Miller thought he had bought a house. Miller claimed the seller breached a contract. He claimed that the brokerage was guilty of interference with prospective business advantage.

The trial court had entered summary judgment for the seller on the basis that there was no enforceable contract. Miller appealed that ruling. But he settled with the seller before the appellate court considered the contract question.

The trial court also entered summary judgment for the brokerage on Miller’s claim for interference with prospective business advantage. In the appellate court, the brokerage argued that the claim failed because the law-of-the-case doctrine established that there was no contract, which the brokerage asserted was an essential element of Miller’s action.

The First District Illinois Appellate Court ruled that the law-of-the-case doctrine did not bar the appellate court from considering the contract question. The trial court ruling was not sufficient to establish law-of-the-case. “… Plaintiff and Kariodimedjo [seller] settled prior to any consideration of the issue by this court. Kariodimedjo was subsequently dismissed from the instant action. As is evident here, the law-of-the-case doctrine does not operate in the case at bar, as there was no determination of the issue of whether the contract between plaintiff and Kariodimedjo was enforceable by a reviewing court.”

Get the whole opinion, Miller v. Lockport Realty Group, No. 1-06-3603 (11/19/07), by clicking here.