Reconsideration Motion That Presented New Evidence Reviewed For Abuse Of Discretion

Ricky Compton’s insurer, Country Mutual, had a lien on settlement proceeds Ricky received from the negligent party in an automobile accident. The lien was filed with Founders Insurance, the negligent party’s insurer. Ricky filed a class action complaint against Country Mutual, arguing that the lien filed on Founders was a breach of contract and a violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act.

After the trial court dismissed his complaint, Ricky asked the court to vacate the dismissal or for reconsideration. The trial court denied that request, so Ricky appealed. He claimed that the correct standard of review was “de novo,” and that the appellate court should give his arguments a fresh look. But the First District Illinois Court of Appeals found that Ricky’s reconsideration request was based on evidence that had not been given to the trial court before. The appellate court ruled that the correct standard of review therefore was “abuse of discretion,” not “de novo.” Here’s what the appellate court stated:

The plaintiff [Ricky] asserts that the standard of review applicable to the denial of the motion to vacate or reconsider is de novo … However, where the denial of a motion to reconsider is based on new matters, such as additional facts or new arguments or legal theories that were not presented during the course of the proceedings leading to the issuance of the order being challenged, the abuse of discretion standard applies … In his motion to reconsider, the plaintiff alleged that he could plead facts establishing that the Founders’ settlement check exceeded the amount of Country Mutual’s lien. Since the motion for reconsideration rested on new factual allegations, the applicable standard of review is abuse of discretion.

Read the whole case, Compton v. Country Mutual Insurance Co., No. 1-06-24 (4/29/08), by clicking here.