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Ragus Co. v. City of Chicago

Illinois Appellate Court
628 N.E.2d 999 (1993)


In 1991, the City of Chicago (City) (defendant) was accepting bids from companies to fulfill its need for Gotcha Glue Boards, a type of rodent trap. The City’s proposal stated that it required 150 cases of five-and-a-half-inch traps with “24/case” and 75 cases of 11-inch traps with “12/case.” Ragus Company (Ragus) (plaintiff) submitted a bid to supply the traps. The City accepted, awarding the contract to Ragus. Thereafter, Ragus attempted to deliver an order of 150 cases, each containing 24 individual five-and-a-half-inch traps, and 75 cases, each containing 12 individual 11-inch traps. The City refused to accept the delivery, stating that the cases should have included 24 pairs of traps and 12 pairs of traps respectively, and not individual traps. Ragus refused to deliver more traps, arguing that it had complied with its obligations under the contract. Consequently, the City excluded Ragus from bidding on any further projects. Ragus brought suit against the City and three City employees, Walter Brueggen, Mark Pofelski, and Alexander Grzyb, the City’s purchasing agent (defendants). Ragus sought money damages and a declaration that it did not breach the contract. The City moved to dismiss the complaint. During a hearing on the motion, the City proffered various affidavits to prove that “24/case,” as ordinarily used in the trade, referred to pairs per case and not individual traps per case. The president of Gotcha Glue Boards’ manufacturer confirmed that the traps were packaged in pairs, and Grzyb explained that the company that fulfilled the contract after Ragus’s termination did in fact deliver cases containing 24 pairs per case. A City employee who oversaw shipments further confirmed that all cases he inspected from other suppliers likewise contained 24 pairs of traps. The trial court accepted the City’s interpretation of the contract language as referring to pairs per case, and dismissed Ragus’s complaint. Ragus appealed, arguing that the usage-of-trade test should not have been applied.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Rizzi, J.)

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