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A motion for summary judgment is proper where the pleadings, depositions, and admissions on file, together with any affidavits and exhibits, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact. Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 110, para. 57 (1975). Yet the reviewing court will reverse an order granting summary judgment if it determines that a material question of fact does exist because summary judgment is inappropriate under such circumstances. The right of the moving party must be clear and free from doubt. In making its determination, a court must construe the pleadings strictly against the moving party and liberally in favor of the opponent, and if the facts admit of more than one conclusion or inference, including one unfavorable to the moving party, the motion for summary judgment should be denied.
Plaintiff, Presto Manufacturing Co., Inc., brought this small claims action against the defendant, Formetal Engineering Company, to recover the balance of allegedly owed for goods sold and delivered by the plaintiff to the defendant. The defendant buyer withheld payment on goods it received from the plaintiff seller. The defendant buyer claimed that the goods were defective and that he notified the plaintiff seller of previous defects and was assured that they had been corrected. Defendant returned the goods 125 days after promising to do so. Plaintiff brought an action in small claims court to recover payment. The defendant in his counterclaim, alleged rejection of the goods and breaches of warranties. The defendant buyer appealed an order of the Circuit Court of Cook County, which granted the plaintiff seller's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the buyer's counterclaim for damages for the recovery of money allegedly owed to the seller for goods sold and delivered to the buyer. On appeal, defendant contends that (1) summary judgment was improperly granted, and (2) the dismissal of the counterclaim was in error.
Did the small claim’s court err in granting the plaintiff seller’s motion for summary judgment and in dismissing the defendant buyer’s counterclaim?
Yes. The court reversed the small claims court's order.
The court reversed the order of the small claims court because triable issues of fact remained and the summary judgment had prevented the buyer from presenting its defenses. The court held that dismissal of the buyer's counterclaim was erroneous because the seller's motion did not specifically point out the defects of the counterclaim or attach supporting affidavits. The court held that supporting affidavits, although not required in summary judgment proceedings by Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 110, para. 57 (1975), were required in this case because the record was incomplete as to the negotiations between the parties. The court remanded the case to the small claims court to resolve fact questions not in the record.