March 23, 2007
MARY SPENCER, )
) Appeal from the
Plaintiff-Appellant, ) Circuit Court of
) Cook County, Illinois.
) No. 04 CH 08975
THE RYLAND GROUP, INC., )
d/b/a Ryland Homes, ) Honorable
) Patrick McGann
Defendant-Appellee. ) Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE JOSEPH GORDON delivered the opinion of the court:
Plaintiff, Mary Spencer, appeals from an order of the circuit court dismissing her
complaint pursuant to section 2-615 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West
2004)). In her complaint, Spencer alleged that the arbitrator in a dispute between her and
defendant, The Ryland Group, Inc. (Ryland), exceeded his powers by not awarding her attorney
fees as required by an agreement of sale between her and Ryland. The circuit court held that,
although it disagreed with the arbitrator's decision not to award attorney fees, it was prohibited
by stare decisis from amending that award. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand.
On June 19, 2003, Spencer entered into an agreement of sale (sales agreement) with
Ryland for the purchase of a new town home in Lockport Illinois. At that time, Spencer paid
Ryland $6,000 in earnest money. Paragraph 10 of the sales agreement, entitled "Arbitration,"
provided: "[a]ny controversy, claim or dispute arising out of or in any way relating to this