Voidness Of Judgment Considered Despite Late Appeal

American Access Casualty Company insured Aaron Hersey. GEICO won a negligence case against Hersey. Trying to satisfy its judgment, GEICO brought a supplemental proceeding to discover the assets of American Access Casualty Company.

The trial court entered a judgment for GEICO against AACC for the amount GEICO won against Hersey. About five months later AACC asked the trial court to vacate the judgment. But the trial court refused. AACC asked again a month later, arguing that GEICO’s judgment was void because (1) AACC’s lawyer was not given notice of the hearing at which the judgment was entered and (2) the judgment was based on a misrepresentati0n. The trial court again refused to vacate the judgment.

AACC appealed, but GEICO asked the appellate court to dismiss it for lack of appellate jurisdiction. The First District Illinois Appellate Court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to consider the merits of AACC’s appeal because neither the request to vacate the judgment nor the appeal were filed within the required 30 days of the judgment.

But the appellate court said it could consider whether the judgment was void. “A void judgment is one that is entered by a court without jurisdiction over the parties or the subject matter or by a court that lacks the inherent power to make or enter the order,” and “… it is well settled that a void order can be attacked at any time.”

So the appellate court took jurisdiction over an appeal that was filed well after the jurisdictional deadline. But even though a void order can be attacked at any time, shouldn’t the court have jurisdiction to do so? In this case, the appellate court ruled that it was okay to file a late appeal to contest the voidness of the judgment. Normally, a late appeal would preclude jurisdiction.

Ultimately, the appellate court affirmed GEICO’s judgment because it was not void. So maybe this is a case of no-blood-no-foul. Read the whole case, Government Employees Insurance Company v. Hersey, No. 1-09-0232 (1/12/10), by clicking here.