Articles Posted in Illinois Supreme Court Rules

David and Rojean Molloy were battling for custody of their two children.

The trial court appointed the Cook County, Illinois public guardian to represent the children. A custody evaluation by a social worker was scheduled under the Marriage Dissolution Act. Rojean, who did not have a lawyer, asked the trial court to prohibit David’s lawyer from attending the social worker’s evaluation session with David. The trial court agreed and barred David’s lawyer from attending.

David thought he should not be deprived of an attorney at the evaluation, so he filed a notice of interlocutory appeal under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 307. David argued that the order prohibiting his lawyer from attending the evaluation amounted to a preliminary injunction, so the appellate court had jurisdiction to consider the appeal.

Elizabeth Macknin got an emergency order of protection against her ex-husband, David Macknin. Elizabeth claimed David abused I.M., Elizabeth’s daughter from a previous marriage to Markrack. Elizabeth asserted that David intended to abuse E.M., their own biological daughter. David asked the trial court to strike the petition. In response, the court ordered Elizabeth to file an amended petition.

David served a subpoena for deposition on I.M. I.M. got her own lawyer, Komie, to represent I.M. in the order of protection case. Komie’s fees were paid by Markrack.

David then asked the trial court to disqualify Komie. David argued that Komie could not represent I.M., still a minor, because the Illinois Supreme Court Rules and the Illinois Dissolution of Marriage Act required I.M.’s lawyer to be appointed by the court, which Komie had not.

While driving his Chevy, Brian Berry hit Lisa Villarreal. Founders Insurance had issued automobile insurance that covered Berry ‘s Chevy. Berry also had an insurance policy with Mid-Century Insurance. Berry thought the Mid-Century policy covered his Dodge. But the policy listed the Chevy as the covered vehicle.

Villareal, who was injured in the accident, sued Berry. Founders settled that case on Berry’s behalf, and paid Villareal $100,000. Founders then found itself in a lawsuit with Mid-Century over which company had to pay the $100,000. Both Founders and Mid-Century asked the trial court for summary judgment. The trial court gave Founders summary judgment, and ruled that Mid-Century owed half the settlement paid to Villareal as equitable contribution.

Mid-Century appealed the ruling. Mid-Century raised two issues in the appellate court that focused on whether there was compliance the Mid-Century policy. Founders responded to those arguments. But the First District Illinois Appellate Court ruled there was a threshold issue that neither insurer raised in the trial or appellate courts: whether the Mid-Century policy even covered the Chevy.

Robert Stein and Clinton Krislov both are attorneys. Stein sued Krislov and his lawfirm for libel. The alleged libelous statements were made in a letter Krislov wrote to a federal judge who was presiding over a class action case. Krislov’s letter stated that Stein misrepresented to the court his experience as class counsel.

Krislov asked the trial court to dismiss Stein’s libel case. Among other things, Krislov asserted immunity from Stein’s lawsuit based on the Citizen Partcipation Act. The Act gives immunity to a person who was sued as a result of exercising his rights to free speech and to participation in government.

The trial court denied Krislov’s request to dismiss. Krislov appealed under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 307(a)(1) (appeal as of right from an interlocutory injunction) and the Act. The First District Illinois Appellate Court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to consider Krislov’s appeal. The appellate court stated (1) the denial of Krislov’s request to dismiss did not qualify for appeal under Rule 307; (2) the Act could not provide appellate jurisdiction where the Illinois Supreme Court had not.

Maggie and Keith Yunker were in a car accident in August 2006. Unfortunately for them, their business automobile insurance policy expired two months earlier because they did not pay the premium. The insurer, Pekin Insurance, refused to pay medical expenses Maggie sustained in the accident. The Yunkers felt they were entitled to coverage under the insurance policy, so they sued Pekin.

The trial court agreed with Pekin, and gave the insurer summary judgment, Four days later, the Yunkers appealed the trial court’s ruling.

About two and one-half weeks after that, Pekin filed a request for sanctions against the Yunkers in the trial court. The trial court denied Pekin’s sanctions request a few weeks later. Pekin appealed that ruling. Pekin also asked the appellate court to dismiss the Yunker’s appeal. Pekin argued that its request for sanctions rendered the Yunker’s appeal of the summary judgment premature, resulting in no jurisdiction for the appellate court over the Yunker’s appeal.

Andrea Coleman sued Christina Udoh and her husband, Nsikak Akpakpan, for violating the Chicago Residential Landlords and Tenants Ordinance. The case was arbitrated, and Coleman was awarded $20,600. The trial court barred Udoh and Akpakpan from rejecting the arbitration award, so they appealed.

Representing herself, Udoh filed her own notice of appeal. She did not write Akpakpan’s name on the notice. Nor did he file his own notice of appeal. Coleman claimed there was no appellate jurisdiction to hear Akpakpan’s appeal. The First District Illinois Appellate Court agreed. Here’s the appellate court’s explanation:

Where the notice of appeal clearly names only one party as appellant, the court considers the appeal to be taken only by the named party … In the absence of a separate notice of appeal filed by Mr. Mr. Akpakpan and the failure of the notice of appeal filed by Ms. Udoh to name him as an appellant and to include his signature or the signature and address of his attorney [required by Illinois Supreme Court Rule 303(b)(4)], Mr. Akpakpan is not a party to this appeal. We will consider this appeal only as to Ms. Udoh, and the judgment against Mr. Akpakpan will not be affected by its outcome.

Bernstein and Grazian had a falling out, so they folded their law practice. Grazian started his own firm, and took some cases with him from the firm he had with Bernstein. The two lawyers fought over how much each should be paid for those files. Bernstein sued Grazian, who countersued Bernstein. Unhappy with the result in the trial court, Bernstein appealed. Grazian filed a counter appeal.

Under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 309, Bernstein asked the trial court to dismiss his appeal. The trial court obliged, but Bernstein told the appellate court his request to dismiss his appeal was a mistake. He asked the appellate court to reinstate his appeal. A single judge of the appellate court obliged that request . But Grazian asserted the earlier dismissal by the trial court deprived the appellate court of jurisdiction to reinstate the appeal.

The First District Illinois Appellate Court agreed with Grazian. Here is the court’s rationale:

Leland Stahelin and JES Ventures owned property that bordered the Morton Arboretum in DuPage County, Illinois. The county forest preserve and the arboretum wanted to preserve the property in its undeveloped state. After purchase negotiations failed, the forest preserve sued the owners in a condemnation suit, then withdrew the suit. At the same time, the forest preserve passed an ordinance that stated “the acquisition of the property in the future would be important to furthering the statutory purposes of the [District].”

The owners claimed they could not develop the property for commercial purposes because the ordinance stated the government’s intention to condemn it. So the owners sued the forest preserve and the arboretum under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution for engaging in a conspiracy to take the land. The trial court dismissed that lawsuit. The arboretum then asked the trial court to award attorney fees. Meanwhile, the owners appealed the dismissal, but the appellate court affirmed. The owners’ petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court was denied. The arboretum then asked for an award of its attorney fees incurred in defending the owners’ appeal.

The trial court awarded the arboretum its fees under Section 1988 [federal civil rights statute] for defending the appeal, but not for defending the case in the trial court. The owners then appealed the award of attorney fees.

This is an important Illinois case inasmuch as it has generated one of just a handful of appellate opinions that deal directly with the law as applied to internet use and political speech.

Donald Maxon claimed he was defamed by comments posted by unidentified members of the public on a web version of the Times, a newspaper published by Ottawa Publishing Company. Certain unedited comments, Maxon felt, accused him of bribing city council members in return for a favorable vote on a city ordinance.

Ottawa Publishing knew the identities of the commenters, who wrote anonymously on the internet page. Maxon wanted to sue the commenters. To find out whom they were, Maxon filed a petition under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 224 [allowing pre-trial discovery “for the sole purpose of ascertaining the identity of one who may be responsible in damages …”] demanding Ottawa Publishing to identify the commenters.

I get this question a lot: What is the standard of review for interpretation of a state supreme court rule?

Here’s the answer: “Because Garlock’s argument involves the construction of a supreme court rule, our review is de novo … When interpreting a supreme court rule, a reviewing court should apply the same principles of construction that apply to a statute–that is, the reviewing court should ascertain and give effect to the intent of the supreme court in promulgating the rule … The most reliable indicator of that intent is the specific language used in the rule … When the language of a supreme court rule is clear and unambiguous, a reviewing court should apply the language without reference to other interpretive aids …”

The quote is from White v. Garlock Sealing Technologies, No. 4-09-0036 (2/8/10), available here for the clicking.

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