Justia Civil Procedure Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of Illinois
Alvarez v. $59,914 United States Currency
Pursuant to the Drug Asset Forfeiture Procedure Act, 725 ILCS 150/1, the state initiated forfeiture proceedings against currency totaling $223,743 that was seized from a van driven by Tyler, but owned by Salaam, following a traffic stop. The forfeiture complaint alleged that there was probable cause to believe that the currency was furnished or intended to be furnished in exchange for a controlled substance. The state unsuccessfully attempted to serve Tyler with notice of the forfeiture proceedings by mail, before serving notice by publication. No one filed a claim to the currency. The circuit court entered a default judgment of forfeiture. More than two years later, Salaam moved to vacate, arguing that the judgment was void because he was not served with notice. The circuit court denied the motion, finding that it had in rem jurisdiction over the currency; that notice was properly given to the driver, as the “owner or interest holder” of the currency; and that Salaam was not entitled to notice because he was not an “owner or interest holder.” The appellate court affirmed,The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. The circuit court had subject matter jurisdiction of the case under the Forfeiture Act and had in rem jurisdiction over the seized currency, so any failure to comply with statutory notice rendered its judgment voidable, not void. Any challenge to that order had to be filed within two years of its entry. Salaam’s motion was not timely. View "Alvarez v. $59,914 United States Currency" on Justia Law
Dent v. Constellation NewEnergy, Inc.
Dent and RLD (Petitioners) had several supply and marketing contracts with energy companies (Respondents). Respondents terminated the Petitioners' at-will consulting agreements. Petitioners filed an Illinois Supreme Court Rule 224 petition seeking disclosure from Respondents of the names and addresses of three unidentified individuals who might be responsible in damages to Petitioners, alleging that those individuals publicized false and defamatory statements about Dent that caused respondents to terminate their contractual relationships. Petitioners alleged that the unnamed individuals accused Dent of drunken conduct and of sexual misconduct. The appellate court reversed the dismissal of the petition, stating that the circuit court abused its discretion when it sua sponte dismissed the petition based upon its determination that Petitioners knew the identity of Respondents and their attorneys; Respondents and their attorneys were not potential defendants responsible in damages for defamation or breach of contract.The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the dismissal. The appellate court erred in holding that a section 2-615 motion to dismiss cannot consider affirmative defenses apparent on the face of the petition, such as the existence of qualified privilege. The existence of qualified privilege on the part of the unidentified individuals was apparent from the face of the petition. Respondents, having raised nothing more than a conclusory denial, failed to sufficiently allege abuse of that privilege. View "Dent v. Constellation NewEnergy, Inc." on Justia Law
Suburban Real Estate Services, Inc. v. Carlson
In 2006, Suburban, owned by Barus, and ROC formed ROC/Suburban LLC, which acted as a vendor to Suburban. In 2010, Barus retained attorney Carlson for legal advice in unwinding that relationship. ROC sued Suburban, alleging breach of fiduciary duty. The Gaspero Law Firm defended Suburban in the ROC litigation. In June 2015, the court entered judgment for ROC and ordered Suburban to pay 50% of the fair value of the assets that Barus had improperly transferred out of ROC/Suburban.In May 2016, Barus and Suburban filed a legal malpractice action against Carlson, who allegedly recommended or approved the self-help actions that resulted in the breach of fiduciary duties. The circuit court held that the claim was barred by the two-year statute of limitations (735 ILCS 5/13- 214.3(b)) because the injury began when the plaintiffs retained new counsel and that the plaintiffs knew they were injured in 2013 at the latest when the judge stated that Carlson had committed malpractice.The appellate court reversed; the Illinois Supreme Court agreed. The plaintiffs did not suffer a realized injury until the court found a breach of fiduciary duty and entered a judgment against them. Although plaintiffs may have been alerted in 2013 that counsel misadvised them, the possibility of damages was not actionable until the ROC litigation ended and plaintiffs became obligated to pay damages as a result of Carlson’s advice. View "Suburban Real Estate Services, Inc. v. Carlson" on Justia Law
PNC Bank, National Association v. Kusmierz
In 2011, PNC filed a foreclosure complaint against Kusmierz. PNC retained Metro to serve the summons. Magida, a Metro employee, attempted to serve Kusmierz at the subject Lombard address but the property was a vacant lot. Magida served Kusmierz in Palatine. Days later, PNC obtained the appointment of Metro as a special process server. PNC then filed affidavits of service. Kusmierz failed to appear. On February 28, 2012, the court entered an order of default and a judgment of foreclosure and sale. PNC complied with all statutory notice requirements, and the property was sold at a judicial sale back to PNC. The court confirmed the judicial sale. Notices of the proceedings were mailed to the Palatine address. In 2013, third parties purchased the property from PNC for $24,000 and constructed a home on the property with mortgage loans totaling $292,650.In 2018, more than seven years after being served with the foreclosure complaint and summons, Kusmierz sought relief from void judgments under 735 ILCS 5/2-1401(f), alleging improper service because the process server was not appointed by the court at the time of service, in violation of section 2-202(a). The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint, applying both laches and the bona fide purchaser protections in section 2-1401(e) of the Code of Civil Procedure. View "PNC Bank, National Association v. Kusmierz" on Justia Law
Armstead v. National Freight, Inc.
In a March 6, 2015, vehicular collision at a Minooka truck terminal, Armstead, a semi-truck driver with Pennsylvania-based Manfredi Mushroom, was allegedly struck and injured by the semi-truck operated by Roberts, employed by NFI. Armstead filed a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation claim against Manfredi Mushroom, which led to the execution of a “Compromise and Release Agreement by Stipulation” settling the claim. Armstead then filed a negligence suit against NFI in Illinois. The circuit court determined that the Agreement included a judicial admission that prohibited Armstead from claiming injuries other than a right knee strain. The appellate court affirmed.The Illinois Supreme Court vacated and remanded for dismissal. The circuit court’s order limiting Armstead’s injury allegations resolved an issue that was ancillary to the negligence claims. Permitting an appeal from that order would promote precisely the type of piecemeal appeals Rule 304(a) was designed to discourage. After the circuit court’s improper Rule 304(a) finding that there was no just reason to delay enforcement or appeal of its order, Armstead dismissed his action in the circuit court, where jurisdiction remained due to the improper Rule 304(a) finding. He failed to refile the action within one year or within the statute of limitations period, so his action remains dismissed. View "Armstead v. National Freight, Inc." on Justia Law
In re Julie M.
Julie arrived at Carle Hospital on September 14, 2018, after swallowing batteries in an apparent suicide attempt. Carlefiled a petition for Julie’s emergency admission by certification to a mental health facility, Mental Health Code (405 ILCS 5/1-100) on October 5. Julie argued the petition was untimely filed, claiming that she had been medically cleared on September 28 yet remained “detained involuntarily” and that sections 3-604 and 3-610 require that a petition or certificate, be executed within 24 hours of involuntary detention. The Champaign County circuit court ordered her involuntarily committed for no more than 90 days.The appellate court found that the capable-of-repetition-yet-evading-review exception to the mootness doctrine applied and affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. The section 3-610 24-hour deadline starts upon admission of a respondent under article VI and ends with the proper execution of a second examination and certificate. Admission under article VI occurs no sooner than when the petition and first certificate are properly executed. The 24-hour deadline starts upon detention based on a petition alone and ends when a certificate is furnished to or by the facility. Carle never purported to detain Julie on the basis of a petition alone nor did Julie allege that she was detained on the basis of a petition alone. Section 3-604 does not apply to this case. View "In re Julie M." on Justia Law
Doe v. Parrillo
Doe sued Parillo based on physical and sexual assaults and the violation of an order of protection. The following 30 months involved multiple delays and disputes. Parillo was sanctioned several times for failing to answer the complaint, failing to cooperate in discovery, and for his (and his attorney’s) failure to appear for scheduled hearings. In 2019, following a trial that Parillo and his attorney did not attend, a jury awarded Doe $200,000 for “Loss of Normal Life,” $200,000 for “Pain and Suffering,” $200,000 for “Emotional Distress,” $200,000 for “Future Loss of Normal Life,” and $200,000 for “Future Pain and Suffering,” totaling $1 million in compensatory damages, plus $8 million in punitive damages.In ruling on a post-trial motion, the court stated “[T]he defendant lied in an affidavit to seek a trial continuance, the defense attorneys failed to follow a well-known and well-understood circuit court rule ... and the defense attorneys and defendant abandoned the trial ... defendant’s attempt should read, ‘A Conspiracy to Undermine the Integrity of the Judicial Process—or— How Not to Get a Trial Continuance in the Law Division.’ First, lie; second, don’t follow rules; and third, if the first and second don’t work, don’t show up for trial.” The appellate court reduced Doe’s punitive damages to $1 million. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the trial court judgments. The punitive damages award was not unconstitutionally excessive. View "Doe v. Parrillo" on Justia Law
Ittersagen v. Advocate Health and Hospitals Corp.
Ittersagen brought a medical malpractice action against Advocate Medical and Dr. Thakadiyil, alleging that the defendants negligently failed to diagnose him with sepsis and treat him appropriately. A jury was sworn. More than halfway through the trial, the court received a note from a juror, who reported that he had a business relationship with “the Advocate Health Care System Endowment.” The juror, a partner in a company that handles investments, said he believed the endowment was affiliated with but separate from Advocate Medical. He explained that his connection to Advocate Medical was so attenuated that he forgot to mention it during jury selection. The juror insisted that the outcome of the trial would not affect him financially and that he could remain fair and impartial. The trial court denied Ittersagen’s request to remove the juror for actual bias or implied bias and to replace him with an alternate juror. The jury returned a verdict for the defendants.The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, rejecting an argument that the juror’s business relationship with the endowment created a presumption of bias that cannot be rebutted by claims of impartiality. The court noted the lack of evidence of the affiliation between the endowment and Advocate. The juror did not owe Advocate a fiduciary duty and did not have any other direct relationship with the defendants that would create a presumption of juror bias as a matter of law. View "Ittersagen v. Advocate Health and Hospitals Corp." on Justia Law
In re Commitment of Snapp
In 2003, the Illinois Supreme Court held that, in committing a respondent under the Sexually Dangerous Persons Act (725 ILCS 205/0.01), the circuit court must make an explicit finding that the respondent is substantially probable to commit sex offenses in the future if not confined. The Act was subsequently amended to include the required element of a substantial probability to reoffend within the statutory definition of a sexually dangerous person.In 1973, Snapp pleaded guilty to three counts of indecent liberties with a child. In 1992, he pleaded guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse. In 1997, after Snappwas again charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse, the state filed a petition and obtained his commitment under the Act. In 2004 and 2007, Snapp filed applications for recovery, seeking release from his civil commitment. Both of those applications were denied. In 2010, Snapp filed another application for recovery. A bench trial was held in 2018, The court denied Snapp’s petition, finding he was “still a sexually dangerous person and in need of confinement.” The appellate court vacated, finding that precedent required an express finding of a substantial probability to reoffend.The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the trial court decision. The General Assembly eliminated the requirement of a separate explicit finding by the circuit court that the respondent is substantially probable to reoffend if not confined. View "In re Commitment of Snapp" on Justia Law
Eighner v. Tiernan
In November 2014, Eighner filed a personal injury complaint (14-L-11428) concerning a November 2012 collision. Eighner paid the filing fee and caused summons to be issued. As the trial approached, Eighner decided to undergo surgery. In May 2017, the court granted a voluntary dismissal without prejudice under 735 ILCS 5/2- 1009(a), with leave to reinstate within one year. In April 2018, Eighner ’s counsel electronically filed a document under the number, 14-L11428, titled “Eighner ’s Notice of Refiling Complaint Being Reinstated.” Eighner paid no filing fee and no summons issued. Eighner ’s counsel received file-stamped copies of the documents, and a “Notice of Electronic Filing,” from the clerk. Defense counsel informed Eighner ’s counsel that he was unable to find the reinstated case on the court website. In October 2018, Eighner’s counsel notified defense counsel that he had tried to file the matter under a different number and had been advised by the clerk’s office to keep the same number. Eighner ’s counsel, unsuccessful in filing a motion under that number, filed a new complaint, number 18-L-11146, and paid a filing fee; a new summons was issued.The defendant unsuccessfully moved to dismiss the new lawsuit as untimely having been filed five months after the expiration of the one-year period. The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court concluded that section 13-217 did not permit Eighner to file the previously dismissed action under its original case number, citing the phrase “may commence a new action.” Case 18-L-11146 was untimely and Eighner ’s April 2018 filing was not a new action. View "Eighner v. Tiernan" on Justia Law