Daewoo International paid American Metals Trading $14.5 million for pig iron. But American Metals didn’t deliver, so Daewoo started an arbitration proceeding. In support of the arbitration, Daewoo got an order of attachment against American from a New York trial court. To support the attachment — i.e., trace where the money went — the New York court allowed Daewoo to obtain discovery and to depose American’s directors and officers, four brothers led by Luis Monteiro.
Daewoo believed it could serve subpoenas on American and Monteiro in Illinois. So Daewoo filed a petition in an Illinois court to ask for the subpoenas. Forty-eight days after the court allowed the subpoenas, Monteiro asked the court to quash them. He argued that Daewoo did not comply with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 204(b), the rule that permits an Illinois court to allow discovery in a case from another jurisdiction. The Illinois trial court refused, and ordered Monteiro’s deposition to proceed.
Litigation over the validity of the new York and Illinois trial courts’ discovery orders continued. After Monteiro ran out of options, he filed a notice of appeal in Illinois. On appeal, Monteiro continued to argue that Daewoo did not comply with Rule 204(b).
But the First District Illinois Appellate Court dismissed Monteiro’s appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction. The court ruled:
- the order allowing the subpoenas to issue was a final judgment
- Montiero could appeal the judgment within 30 days, or toll the time to appeal by asking the trial court to quash the subpoenas or to reconsider the judgment, also within 30 days
- But Monteiro’s motion to quash was made 48 days after the judgment, too late to toll the time to appeal
- Monteiro’s Notice of Appeal was filed long after the 30-day deadline, so there was no appellate jurisdiction and the appellate court did not have the power to rule on Monteiro’s Rule 204(b) argument.
The wrinkle in this case was failing to see the trial court’s discovery order as a final judgment. Normally, a trial court’s discovery order is not a judgment nor immediately appealable. This case was different because Daewoo’s entire case was filed to get the discovery order. This is how the appellate court explained it:
In the case at bar, the [Illinois] circuit court issued an order granting discovery, pursuant to Rule 204(b), on January 29, 2013. … Since the only action in Illinois was the petition filed by Daewoo on January 28, 2013, to obtain discovery from and depose Monteiro and others in Illinois pursuant to Rule 204(b), the January 29, 2013 order was the final judgment in the Illinois proceeding.