In M&J Underground, Inc. v. Village of Bourbonnais, an Illinois Appellate Court overturned a circuit court’s ruling in favor of a village that dismissed a contract dispute filed by a contractor hired for a public improvement project.

A contractor and village entered into a construction contract for a village public improvement project. Various engineering reviews, water conditions, and other issues delayed work on the project. According to the complaint filed by the contractor, the contractor had continued discussions with village representatives who told them that its change orders were being processed, leading the contractor to believe the village would pay for the additional costs and expenses related to the water conditions. 


At some point in the project, an engineer determined the project could not be completed based on the method described in the contract between the village and contractor. Subsequently, the village informed the contractor that it would be solely responsible for any additional costs related to the project. The contractor then stopped work on the project, and the village informed it that it would hire a replacement contractor. 

The contractor sued the village claiming it was in breach of its contract with the contractor. The contractor also brought an accounting claim and other claims. After its lawsuit was dismissed, the contractor appealed the dismissal of the breach of contract and accounting claims.


For its breach of contract claim, the contractor claimed it had substantially performed its obligations under the contract, and unanticipated water conditions made performance impracticable. The village responded that it did not breach its obligations because the contractor had complete control over the means and methods of performing the job. The Appellate Court determined that because tthere were material factual disputes relating to the breach of contract claim, the circuit court should not have dismissed the breach of contract claim. 


As for the accounting claim, the contractor argued accounting is necessary because there is a need for access to information within the village. The village responded that this was not necessary because the contractor alone knows what was delivered and not paid for, so it only has to review its own accounts. The court agreed with the contractor, stating that in order for the contractor to assess and support the validity of any claim for payment, it needs an accounting from the village. As a result, the Appellate Court detemined that the circuit court erred when it dismissed the accounting claim. The Appellate Court then remanded the case back to the circuit court for further proceedings. 

Post Authored by Katie Nagy & Julie Tappendorf