Illinois Courts Define Contractual Unconscionability
Illinois courts have held that a contract may be deemed unconscionable when it is improvident, oppressive, or completely one sided. Streams Sports Club, Ltd. v. Richmond, 99 Ill.2d 182, 191, 75 Ill.Dec. 667, 457 N.E.2d 1226, 1232 (1983). Additionally, Illinois courts have provided two requirements, procedural unconscionability and substantive unconscionability, that could be present for a contract to be deemed unconscionable and therefore unenforceable. Zobrist v. Verizon Wireless 354 Ill.App.3d 1139, 822 N.E.2d 531, 290 Ill.Dec. 946 (2004).
The first requirement, procedural unconscionability, is defined by the courts as some type of impropriety during the process of forming the contract depriving the party of a meaningful choice. See id. The factors the courts consider are: the circumstances surrounding the transaction, including the manner in which the contract was entered into, whether each party had a reasonable opportunity to understand the terms of the contract and whether important terms were hidden. Franks Maintenance & Engineering, Inc. v. C.A. Roberts Co., 86 Ill.App.3d 980, 989-90, 42 Ill.Dec. 25, 408 N.E.2d 403, 410 (1980). In Illinois, however, just because a contract is presented by a party in a superior bargaining position without allowing the other party to negotiate any contract terms does not necessarily mean that the clause or contract is unconscionable. Koveleskie v. SBC capital Markets, Inc., 167 F.3d 361, 367 (7th Cir.1999).
The second requirement, substantive unconscionability, is defined by the courts as situations where a clause or term in a contract is allegedly one sided. See Zobrist. However, if the plaintiff knowingly and freely assents to a clause that works a substantial disadvantage against the plaintiff, he or she cannot be later heard to complain of the clause. See id.
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