Law School Case Brief
Gross Valentino Printing Co. v. Clarke - 120 Ill. App. 3d 907, 76 Ill. Dec. 373, 458 N.E.2d 1027 (1983)
To state a cause of action for fraud, defendant must allege a false statement of material fact by plaintiff, which plaintiff knew or believed was false, made with intent to induce defendant to act, upon which defendant justifiably relied, and which resulted in damage to defendant. A statement as to future events or circumstances is not a basis for fraud. Allegations of fraud must be made with specificity to sustain a cause of action.
Plaintiff Gross Valentino Printing Company ("GVPC") and defendant Frederick S. Clarke, d/b/a Cinefantastique ("Clarke"), entered into a contract for the printing of a magazine published by Clarke. GVPC later informed Clarke that the printing cost would be increased; Clarke made no objection. GVPC proceeded to complete the work, and after Clarke accepted the entire shipment of the printed materials, Clarke informed GVPC that it would not accept the price increase. GVPC filed suit in Illinois state court for breach of contract against Clarke. Clarke asserted the defenses of lack of consideration, fraudulent or innocent misrepresentation, and business compulsion. GVPC filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted by the trial court. Clarke appealed.
Was GVPC properly granted summary judgment?
The court affirmed the trial court's judgment. The court first ruled that the parties' agreement for printing the magazines was subject to the provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code, and as such, proof of consideration was unnecessary. As to Clarke's fraud defense, the court ruled that Clarke failed to allege a cause of action for fraud. The court observed that at best, Clarke simply alleged possible misstatements of future circumstances, such as the ability of GVPC to complete the job "in house," and the eventual cost of the job. Such statements as to future events or circumstances were not a basis for fraud. Finally, the court ruled that Clarke failed to allege sufficient facts to sustain the affirmative defense of business compulsion in that he failed to indicate how his "free will" was overcome by any wrongdoing of GVPC, and Clarke did not show how legal redress for possible breach of the original contract would have been inadequate.
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