Thursday, February 11, 2010

Illinois Home Repair and Remodeling Act - What Do We Know For Sure?

So far in this series I've introduced you to the Illinois Home Repair and Remodeling Act (HRRA) and we've discussed the statute itself.  I've also mentioned that Illinois Appellate Courts disagree as to the interpretation of the HRRA.  I will break that down, appellate district by appellate district, in upcoming posts.  Before we get to that step, however, it is worthwhile to take one last look at the HRRA statewide and pose the question - "what do we know for sure?"  


The answer?  Well, we know the statute is the law everywhere in Illinois, but that only takes us so far when faced with appellate disagreement as to what the law means.  In addition to the HRRA itself, we also know that statewide the HRRA means what the Illinois Supreme Court (the IL SC) says it means.  So far the IL SC has only issued one opinion intrepreting the HRRA - MD Electrical Contractors, Inc. v. Abrams.1  The IL SC has also granted leave to appeal in one other recent case,2 and may well agree to hear additional cases in 2010.  For now though, Abrams is the sole case of IL SC precedent intrepreting the HRRA.  


In Abrams, the plaintiff subcontractor sued the homeowners in quantum meruit. (acknowledging that there was no contract between the parties but still wanting to be paid for its work).  The homeowners sought to dismiss the suit by alleging that the HRRA applied, the subcontractor had failed to comply with the HRRA, and therefore the subcontractor was not entitled to recover any payment from the homeowners.  The subcontractor argued that the HRRA does not apply to subcontractors.  


The IL SC agreed with the plaintiff, and ruled that the HRRA does NOT apply to subcontractors.  The court chose to go no further in its ruling, which is one reason two of the justices joined in a dissenting opinion in this case.  


So, what do we know for sure about the HRRA statewide?  We know it does not apply to subcontractors.  And...that's it.  To go beyond that, the interpretation of the law depends on where you are in the state, and in which appellate district you are located.  We'll take a look at each district in turn next.


Case Citations:
  1. MD Elect. Contractors, Inc. v. Abrams, 228 Ill. 2d 281 (2008).
  2. K. Miller Constr. Co. v. McGinnis, 913 N.E. 2d 1152 (1st Dist. August 10, 2008).  Appeal allowed by __ N.E.2d __ (Ill. November 25, 2009) (Table, No. 109156).

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