No Brief Doesn’t Matter. First District Illinois Appellate Still Affirms Judgment For Appellee.

This case presents a messy insurance dispute over who would pay a judgment arising from an auto accident. The judgment, and thus the amount in dispute, was for $8,400. Plaintiff insurance company brought a garnishment action against the defendant insurance company. Plaintiff’s summary judgment motion was denied, and defendant was discharged from the garnishment proceeding.

Plaintiff insurer appealed. But the defendant did not file a response brief. That didn’t stop the appellate court, which decided to rule without benefit of the brief.

Although a reviewing court is not compelled to serve as an advocate for an appellee, it may sustain the judgment of the trial court based on its review of the record as justice may require . . . In other cases, if the appellant’s brief demonstrates prima facie reversible error and the contentions of the brief find support in the record, the judgment of the trial court may be reversed . . . Where the record is simple and the claimed error is such that the court can easily decide it without the aid of an appellee’s brief, a reviewing court will decide the merits of the appeal . . . Here, because the record is simple, we will decide the merits of the appeal without the benefit of the appellees’ briefs.

The discharge order was affirmed. Get the whole case, Selective Ins. Co. v. Urbina, No. 1-06-0298 (1/16/07), by clicking here.