Justia Agriculture Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Illinois
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The Grossens own but do not live on, Parcel A, adjacent to Parcel B, leased by Frank. The parcels are separated by a common fence. Frank has used Parcel B for pasturing cattle since 2009 and, under his lease is responsible for maintaining the fences on the parcel. When Frank repaired the fence he did not notify the Grossens. In 2011, Frank’s cattle escaped to a nearby road, where Raab collided with a cow. Raab sued, citing the Animals Running Act. Frank filed a third-party complaint against the Grossens under the Contribution Act, citing the Fence Act, negligence, and breach of contract. The cow that injured Raab escaped through a portion of the fence the Grossens were obligated to maintain under a contract between previous owners. The circuit court approved a $225,000 settlement agreement between Raab and Frank; determined that the Animals Running Act barred any contribution from nonowners or nonkeepers of livestock and that Frank’s failure to notify the Grossens of known deficiencies in the fence barred liability under the Fence Act; and held that a breach of the fence contract could not create that liability to Raab, so the contract could not be the basis for contribution. The appellate court reversed in part.The Illinois Supreme Court held that common law does not provide a basis to hold a nonowner or nonkeeper of livestock liable in tort for damage caused by a neighbor’s animals; the Animals Running Act is not a source of a duty for nonowners and nonkeepers to restrain neighboring cattle. Since Frank has not otherwise established potential tort liability, breach of contract does not give rise to liability under the Contribution Act. View "Raab v. Frank" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs are partners in the business of dairy farming. Defendant is an agricultural cooperative in the business of producing and supplying dairy products. In 1980, plaintiffs became members of defendant’s cooperative, paid $15 for shares of defendant’s common stock, and entered into a “Milk Marketing Agreement” with defendant. In 2005, plaintiffs temporarily ceased milk production. Defendant notified plaintiffs that it had terminated their agreement and plaintiffs’ membership in the cooperative and tendered $15 to plaintiffs to redeem the shares of common stock. Plaintiffs rejected the payment and sought shareholder remedies pursuant to the Business Corporation Act (805 ILCS 5/12.56). Based on defendant’s alleged concealment, suppression, or omission of its interpretation of its by-laws, count II alleged a claim under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (815 ILCS 505/1), and count III alleged common-law fraud. Plaintiffs’ counsel withdrew and they obtained multiple extensions. After a voluntary dismissal, plaintiffs refiled. The circuit court dismissed the refiled action on grounds of res judicata and the statute of limitations. The appellate court reversed and remanded and the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. Although nearly five years elapsed between the time plaintiffs were granted leave to file an amended complaint and their voluntary dismissal, defendant did not seek a final order dismissing the matter with prejudice, definitively ending the action. View "Richter v. Prairie Farms Dairy" on Justia Law