Judge Gleeson denied motion to reconsider arbitration order in suit alleging poor repair work

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Dec 13, 2016

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Andrew Gleeson denied a woman’s motion to reconsider his order compelling arbitration in a suit alleging a contractor did poor repair work following a plumbing accident.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Andrew Gleeson denied a woman’s motion to reconsider his order compelling arbitration in a suit alleging a contractor did poor repair work following a plumbing accident.

Gleeson filed his order denying the motion to reconsider on Nov. 23.

Margaret Lowery and The Margaret J. Lowery Revocable Trust filed the lawsuit on June 17 against Jerry Trent, doing business as Trent’s Quality Construction in Belleville.

Lowery claims that in April, she met with Trent to discuss the needed remodeling and repairs to her apartment at 424 Christine Drive in Belleville following a plumbing accident.

However, Lowery alleges the defendant did poor work, financially damaging the plaintiff.

Lowery claims Trent advised her that the repairs were being paid for under an insurance policy.

She also claims Trent misrepresented that he was licensed and bonded, failed and refused to provide proof of insurance and bonding and induced her to sign the contract, which included an arbitration clause.

Trent filed a motion to dismiss and compel arbitration on July 8.

Lowery responded to the defendant’s motion to dismiss on Sept.19, arguing that the arbitration clause should be void and unenforceable.

“The arbitration clause contained in the alleged contract between Lowery and Trent is a “building and construction contract” for the improvement and repair of real property and requires arbitration to take place in another state, specifically the State of Missouri, therefore making said contract void and unenforceable as against the public policy of the State of Illinois.”

Gleeson denied dismissal but compelled arbitration on Sept. 21.

Lowery filed a motion to reconsider on Oct. 17 through attorney B. Jay Dowling of Clayborne Sabo and Wagner in Belleville.

She argues that counts I and II are not subject to arbitration because they are based upon Trent’s “pre-contractual actions that induced Lowery into signing a contract containing an arbitration clause that Lowery would not have otherwise signed had she known Trent’s statements of material fact, including but not limited to statements regarding the status of Trent being insured, licensed and bonded, whereas the arbitration provision in the contract only applies to any dispute of any kind arising under the contractual agreement.”

Further, she argues that the remaining counts also do not fall under the arbitration agreement, alleging the clause is void and unenforceable.

“In the Order of September 21, 2016, the Court did not address the invalidity and unenforceability of the alleged arbitration provision under the Mechanic’s Lien Act … the Home Repair and Remodeling Act … and/or the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business practices Act.

Trent responded to Lowery’s motion to reconsider on Nov. 22 through attorney Eric Rhein of Belleville. He argues that the Sept. 21 order comports with Illinois law and requires the parties to follow through on their agreement to arbitrate all disputes arising from their contract.

“The private, contractual arbitration clause is entirely valid and enforceable; and all alleged defenses Ms. Lowery, Esq. claims in regard to the arbitration clause can be heard and decided by the arbitrator,” the response states.

Trent also claims that most of her arguments in her motion to reconsider have been previously argued and have been denied “after a full and fair hearing” before Gleeson.

“[T]here is no new allegation of fact arising between September 21, 2016 and the October 14, 2016 filing of the Motion to Reconsider which has been alleged,” the motion states.

Lowery seeks a judgment of more than $50,000, attorney fees, legal costs and any other relief the court deems just.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 16-L-321

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