Under certain circumstances, a 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/2-619 (1992) motion to dismiss and a motion for summary judgment are essentially the same. The question raised by both motions is whether there is a genuine issue of fact. Where no issue of fact exists concerning a contract, a court may interpret the contract as a matter of a law and make an appropriate ruling, including a dismissal under § 2-619.
A contract was executed between the supplier and the city. The city called for the supplier to provide the city a certain quantity of rodent traps. As a result of differing interpretations regarding the number of traps specified in the contract, the supplier provided the city only half of the rodent traps the city expected. The city refused delivery and suspended the supplier from its bidding process for six months. The supplier sued the defendants city and its employees, seeking declaratory relief and asking the trial court to construe the contract in the supplier's favor and award money damages. The trial court construed the contract in favor of defendants on summary judgment and ruled that money damages were barred by the Local Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (Act).
Is a contractor entitled to declaratory relief and damages in an action over a contract found to be ambiguous?
The Court held that the trial court properly treated the motion to dismiss as one for summary judgment. The contract was ambiguous. The trial court had before it sufficient undisputed evidence to find that when a party dealing in the rodent traps in question spoke of "24/case" or "12/case," this meant 24 pairs and 12 pairs per case. Since the contract claim was dismissed, the trial court properly found that the Act barred recovery for money damages.