Articles Posted in Appellate Standing

The State of Illinois filed a petition claiming parents neglected their child, N.C., and asking to have the State bcome N.C.’s guardian. Alfred had acknowledged he was N.C.’s father. But a DNA test proved otherwise, so the State asked the trial court to dismiss Alfred, which it did.

The trial court also found that N.C. was neglected, and that the mother was unfit. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services was appointed N.C.’s guardian.

The mother appealed the finding of neglect and the ruling that Alfred was not N.C.’s father. The state argued that the mother did not have standing in the appeal to dispute Alfred’s paternity.

Melissa Ramskugler had passed Wisconsin’s requirements to qualify as a police officer, but was still in the probationary period required by the Milwaukee Board of Fire & Police Commissioners. Knee injuries prevented her from finishing probation. She was fired because her medical condition prevented her from getting through probation.

Wisconsin statutes have mandatory procedures for terminating police officers. But the Board, taking the position that Ramskugler was not a “member of the force” because she had not completed probation, did not follow the state statutory procedures when it let Ramskugler go. So she and the Milwaukee Police Association sued the Board for depriving her of property without due process.

The Board asked for, and was given summary judgment by the trial court against Ramskugler. She and the Police Association appealed. While the appeal was pending in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Ramskugler settled her dispute with the Board. The Police Association wanted to continue the appeal despite the settlement. So the settlement allowed the Police Association to continue the appeal in hopes of getting a declaration that the Board did not have authority to ignore the procedures set out in the Wisconsin statutes.

The Peoria Disposal Co. had a permit from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to operate a storage and treatment site for hazardous waste. The company asked the Illinois Pollution Control Board to delist (exclude from regulation) electric arc furnace dust. After a public hearing, the Board ordered the furnace dust to be delisted.

The Sierra Club and the Peoria Families Against Toxic Waste asked the Illinois Appellate Court to reverse the Board’s order. The appellate court decided that the Sierra Club and the Peoria Families both had standing to ask for review of the Board’s order, and that the order should be affirmed.

The Sierra Club and the Peoria Families then appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court. But the supreme court did not consider whether the order was correct. Instead, the court dismissed the appeal because neither the Sierra Club nor the Peoria Families had standing to ask for review.

David Hammer was executor of Ronald Weeks’s estate. Hammer hired Thomas Brucker as an attorney to assist in the administration of the estate. Hammer ($120,000) and Brucker ($170,000) paid themselves based on a percentage of the estate’s value.

Weeks left one-fourth of his estate to a New York-based charity. The charity disputed whether Hammer and Brucker could properly take a percentage of the estate for their fees. The Illinois Attorney General intervened in the case, and disputed Hammer’s and Brucker’s fees. The trial court agreed with the Attorney General, drastically lowered the fees, and ordered Hammer and Brucker to return the excess to the estate.

Hammer and Brucker appealed. But their notice of appeal stated that the Estate of Weeks was the party appealing, not Hammer and not Brucker. The Attorney General argued that the appellate court did not have jurisdiction to consider the appeal because the wrong party was identified as the appellant. The Fourth District Illinois Appellate Court ruled that the mistake on the notice of appeal was technical, and did not defeat appellate jurisdiction. Here’s how the appellate court explained the ruling.

A police labor union wanted to be the exclusive representative of “all aviation security sergeants employed by the City of Chicago.” Chicago objected, so the union filed a petition in the Illinois Labor Relations Board. The Board granted the union’s petition. But the union was not completely satisfied because the Board ruled that the sergeants were not “peace officers,” a legal designation under the Illinois Labor Relations Act that affects the sergeants’ bargaining status.

Both Chicago and the union appealed ― Chicago to get the “exclusive representation” ruling reversed; the union to get the sergeants-are-not-peace-officers ruling reversed.

The First District Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the “exclusive representation” ruling, but dismissed the union’s “peace officer” appeal. The appellate court ruled that the union could not appeal because it won the right to be the exclusive representative, which is what it asked for in its petition. The union’s disagreement with some of the Board’s peripheral rulings was not a basis to appeal. Here is how the appellate court explained it:

The Dunns sued Lawrence Patterson, their lawyer, claiming estate documents Patterson drafted contained certain provisions that were void because they were against public policy. After the Dunns won a declaratory judgment in the trial court, Patterson appealed.

The Dunns argued that Patterson did not have standing to appeal the declaratory judgment. The Third District Illinois Appellate Court made short work of the argument. The court politely found “this contention to be inconsistent with the fact that plaintiffs named Patterson as the defendant in this suit and obtained a judgment against him.” The appellate court stated the “entry of a judgment itself constitutes legally cognizable damages,” which was sufficient to establish standing.

I can’t say it is a singular example, but I do not recall reading about a plaintiff arguing that a party he sued did not have standing. Patterson got a reversal of the judgment, too. Read the whole case, Dunn v. Patterson, Nos. 3-07-0881, 3-08-0350 (11/18/09), by clicking here.

Richard Henry, then 89 years old, signed a will in 2004 that overrode all of his previous wills and codicils. The 2004 will left a substantial part of Henry’s estate to Peter Wemple and Mick Zawierucha. Henry’s prior will did not. Wemple was named executor of the 2004 will; Zawierucha was Henry’s caretaker.

About two years later, an Illinois trial court ruled that Henry was disabled, and J.P Morgan Chase Bank was named executor of Henry’s estate. The bank claimed that the 2004 will was procured through Zawierucha’s undue influence, so it asked the trial court for permission to change the terms of the document to reflect Henry’s last-known wishes.

Wemple and Zawierucha objected, but the trial court granted the bank’s request. Wemple and Zawierucha appealed. The bank then asked the appellate court to dismiss the appeal because, it argued, neither Wemple nor Zawierucha had standing to bring the appeal.

This lawsuit grows from a political fight in Knox County, Illinois. After he took office as Knox County State’s Attorney, John Pepmeyer began an investigation into “improprieties” by current and former county employees of the county state’s attorney’s and sheriff’s offices. Two Assistant State’s Attorneys, Dean Stone and Michael Kraycinovich, were targets of Pepmeyer’s investigation. Stone and Kraycinovich in turn started their own investigation of Pepmeyer concerning allegations that he was guilty of sexual harassment.

Stone and Kraycinovich asked the trial court for appointment of a special counsel for their investigation into Pepmeyer. Pepmeyer asked the court for a special prosecutor for his investigation into Stone and Kraycinovich. The trial court appointed the Illinois Attorney General as special prosecutor of both investigations.

The trial court later modified the appointments. The Attorney General was left to investigate Pepmeyer. A former State’s Attorney for another county, William Poncin, was named special prosecutor to investigate “other Knox County public officials,” including Stone and Kraycinovich.

Z.L., a minor who had been adopted as an infant, had reactive attachment disorder. The disorder apparently did not manifest until a few years after his adoption, when Z.L. became disruptive in the household.

The State filed a petition to adjudicate wardship, with the intent to place Z.L. in a foster home. Although they were designated as respondents to the the State’s petition, Z.L.’s parents agreed with the State and the petition. Only Z.L.’s Guardian Ad Litem opposed the State’s petition.

The trial court ruled that good cause did not exist to grant the State’s petition. Z.L.’s parents appealed the trial court’s decision. The State did not appeal, although it did file a brief supporting Z.L.’s parents. And while the GAL was named as an appellee, the GAL did not file an opposing brief.

This wrongful death and survival action was filed on behalf of the estate of Rashidi Walker. Rashidi died during football practice at Northwestern University. His mother, Linda, and his father, George Wheeler, Jr., were coadministrators of Rashidi’s estate.

After lengthy litigation, the trial court approved a settlement of $16 million. Linda appealed the settlement approval. Although she sued only as administrator of Rashidi’s estate, she appealed as administrator and individually as an heir of the estate. Northwestern and George Jr. objected to Linda’s standing to appeal as an individual.

The First District Illinois Appellate Court sided with George Jr. and Northwestern. The court ruled that Linda did not have standing to appeal as an individual. Only the administrators of the estate were allowed to sue in the first place. The appellate court stated: “[I]f they [Linda and two other members of Rashidi’s estate who appealed as individuals] in their individual capacities were not parties to the underlying cause, they in their individual capacities cannot be parties to the instant appeal. Therefore, we find that they do not have standing and we dismiss their appeals.”

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