Unfounded Motion To Reconsider Judgment Extends Time To File Appeal

James Bertell was involuntarily committed to the Rockford Memorial Hospital. James sued the hospital, claiming its petition for involuntary commitment was late. The circuit court disagreed and dismissed James’s complaint. After the trial court denied James’s motion for reconsideration of the dismissal, James appealed within the 30-day deadline.

Nevertheless, the hospital asked the appellate court to dismiss the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction, asserting that James’s notice of appeal was filed too late. The hospital argued that James’s motion for reconsideration did not extend the time to file the appeal because the motion was “invalid and frivolous.” But the Second District Illinois Appellate Court disagreed because the rule that extends the time to file an appeal did not make an exception for unfounded reconsideration motions. Here’s the way the court explained it:

Plaintiff complied with the rule [Illinois Supreme Court Rule 303(a)(1), allowing an appeal to be filed within 30 days after a ruling on a reconsideration motion] and the statute [Illinois Civil Procedure Rule 2-1203(a), applying the extended deadline to reconsideration motions made after a bench trial]. He filed his notice of appeal within 30 days after the entry of the order denying his motion to reconsider. He filed the motion, which was directed and sought relief against the judgment dismissing his complaint, within 30 days after the entry of the judgment. Therefore, given the plain language of Rule 303(a)(1) and section 2-1203(a), we conclude that we have jurisdiction over plaintiff’s appeal.

Defendants’ request that we ignore plaintiff’s postjudgment motion because it was frivolous or brought for an improper purpose finds no support in the rule or the statute. Defendants ask us to create an exception to section 2- 1203(a)’s definition of a postjudgment motion or perhaps to Rule 303(a)(1)’s language extending the time in which to file a notice of appeal. We may not read in such exceptions … Nothing makes our jurisdiction depend on the soundness of a postjudgment motion or the motivation for its filing.

Get the whole opinion, Bertell v. Rockford Memorial Hospital, No. 2-08-0652 (7/22/09), by clicking here.