Articles Posted in Interlocutory Appeals

The City of West Chicago passed a zoning ordinance that banned certain billboards. Lamar Whiteco Outdoor Corporation sued the city, claiming the ordinance was unconstitutional. Lamar and the city eventually settled: an injunction was entered prohibiting the city from enforcing the ordinance against Lamar, and Lamar withdrew the lawsuit.

Lamar then filed a petition for its attorney fees. The trial court ruled that Lamar was entitled to the fees. But the court did not state how much money Lamar should get. The city asked the court to reconsider the ruling. The court refused to reconsider, and also ordered under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 304(a) [no just reason to delay enforcement or appeal of final judgments as to one or more but fewer than all of the parties or claims] that its order allowing the attorney fees was a final and appealable interlocutory order.

The city appealed. But Lamar argued the appellate court did not have jurisdiction to hear the appeal. Lamar maintained that Rule 304(a) did not give the appellate court a basis to consider the appeal.

Louis Mund sued the Browns and the Furkins for abuse of process, malicious prosecution, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Browns and the Furkins asked the trial court to dismiss the case. They argued that the Illinois Citizen Participation Act (statute that “aims to protect defendants from ‘Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation’ (SLAPPs), which harass citizens for exercising constitutional rights, such as the right to petition the government.”) The trial court denied the request to dismiss the case, so the Browns and the Furkins appealed.

The Browns and the Furkins argued that the Citizen Participation Act expressly allowed an appeal “from a trial court order denying” a motion to dismiss. But the Fifth District Illinois Appellate Court refused to recognize that part of the statute, and dismissed the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction. The appellate court ruled that the legislative attempt to make the order immediately appealable conflicted with the Illinois Constitution in two respects:

• First, the constitution allows only final orders to be appealed, and permits only the Illinois Supreme Court to make rules for appeal of interlocutory orders.

Rick Santella fought with family members over control of Food Groupie, Inc., a closely held family corporation. Santella, and Mary and William Kolton were co-owners of the company. Santella sued the Koltons after they gave themselves bonuses and commissions, and stated their intention to close Food Groupie and to open a similar business in which Santella would not be involved.

Santella’s lawsuit asked for return of the bonus ($ 144,019) to Food Groupie, and removal of the Koltons as directors and officers of the company. After the trial court granted both of Santella’s requests, the Koltons appealed under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 307(a)(1) (interlocutory appeal allowed from a trial court order “granting, modifying, refusing, dissolving, or refusing to dissolve or modify an injunction.”)

Santella asked the First District Illinois Appellate Court to dismiss the appeal. He argued, and the appellate court agreed, that removing the Koltons as directors and officers did not require them to do anything, so those orders were not injunctions that could be appealed under Rule 307(a)(1).

Clyde Engle was locked in a battle over payment of attorney fees to Foley and Lardner. Foley represented Engle in federal court litigation involving an insurance liquidation. Engle’s unpaid bill was for more than $1.8 million.

Engle agreed to pay Foley over time, and pledged his interest in bank stock as security. Foley thus took possession of some of the stock. Then Engle sued Foley and asked for a preliminary injunction preventing Foley from selling the stock. The trial court first denied Engle’s request. About two weeks later, the trial court issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting Foley from selling the stock for seven days. The court stated it would issue a preliminary injunction to that end if Engle would post a bond for the amount he owed as surety. That same day, Engle appealed the original denial of a preliminary injunction.

But Engle did not post the bond. Foley argued, and the First District Illinois Appellate Court agreed, that Engle’s appeal was moot because the trial court gave him the opportunity to get what he asked for − an injunction preventing Foley from selling the bank stock. “Having secured what they [Engle and his wife] basically sought, their appeal must be dismissed.”

Dennis and Kimberly Quaids’ newborn twins were hospitalized at Cedars-Sanai Hospital in Los Angeles, California for a staph infection. The babies were given Heparin instead of Hep-Lock, as was prescribed by the physician. The Quaids settled a claim against the hospital before a lawsuit was filed. They sued Baxter Healthcare Corporation, the manufacturer of both medications. The Quaids’ chief claim was that the labeling for both medications was too much alike for hospital personnel to distinguish between them.

The Quaids, residents of California, filed the lawsuit in Cook County, Illinois. Baxter asked the Cook County trial court to dismiss the case on the basis of forum non conveniens − i.e., that California was a more convenient location for this case.

The Cook County trial court agreed that California was the more convenient forum and dismissed the Illinois case. The Quaids filed a petition for leave to appeal under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 306(a)(2), which specifically permits a party to do so. But Baxter argued that the trial court’s dismissal was a final order. Thus, the only way the Quaids could have invoked appellate jurisdiction was to have filed a notice of appeal under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 301. [An appeal is initiated by filing a notice of appeal.]

Michael Gagliardo died in a racing-car accident. Paulette (sister) and Margaret (wife) administered Michael’s estate. They hired Quinlan & Carroll to investigate whether the estate could sue for wrongful death. Paulette later hired Duane Morris, another law firm, to open an estate in court. Duane Morris was on the job only for a few months, after which Paulette hired Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw.

Paulette asked the trial court to determine how much attorney fees were owed to which law firms. Quinlan, an “interested party” to the estate proceeding, asked for a substitution of judge to determine its right to fees. Quinlan’s request was granted.

Duane Morris filed its fee petition covering the entire time it represented the estate. Mayer Brown filed its fee petition for a part of the time it represented the estate. The trial court granted some of the law firms’ claims for fees.

Edwin Burnette, the Public Defender of Cook County, sued Todd Stroger, President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Burnette was angry because Stroger selected personnel in the Public Defender’s Office to be laid off and imposed unpaid furlough days on other employees in the office. Burnette claimed he was not consulted in the process.

Relying on the Illinois Public Defender Act [actually Sections 3-4000 through 3-4011 of the Counties Code, 55 ILCS 5/3-4008.1 – 4011], Burnette’s lawsuit contested Stroger’s authority to take those actions. Stroger in turn asked the trial court to dismiss the case. He argued he acted within his authority and Burnette did not have standing to sue. Stroger’s request was granted and denied in part.

Burnette did two things: (1) He sought to amend his complaint to work around the aspects the trial court dismissed; (2) He asked for an interlocutory appeal. [Illinois Supreme Court Rule 308(a) allows interlocutory appeals when “the trial court … finds that the order involves a question of law as to which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion and that an immediate appeal from the order may materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation … The Appellate Court may thereupon in its discretion allow an appeal from the order.”]

WW Westwood Center sued Canel & Associates for legal malpractice. Canel tendered the defense of the lawsuit to it malpractice insurer, TIG Insurance Company. The tender inspired cross-claims by TIG and Canel for a declaratory judgment – TIG asked for a ruling that it did not have to defend or indemnify Canel; Canel asserted just the opposite.

TIG brought Westwood into the lawsuit, and proceeded to serve discovery on Westwood. Westwood responded by asking the trial court to stay the declaratory judgment lawsuits pending a determination of its malpractice case against Canel.

Canel opposed Westwood’s request for a stay. Because TIG was not paying Canel’s defense costs in the malpractice case, Canel wanted the trial court to rule quickly (and in Canel’s favor) in the declaratory judgment case.

In this multi-count business dispute, Fidelity National Title Insurance sued a number of parties. The trial court granted summary judgment to defendants on all but one count of the complaint. A breach of contract claim still remained against Old Intercounty.

About three weeks later, the trial court ruled that Old Intercounty was in default on that contract claim. But the court did not enter a default judgment at that time. Nor did the court issue language under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 304(a) that would have permitted an appeal before a final judgment as to all issues against all parties. At Fidelity’s request, the trial court issued Rule 304(a) language as to the summary judgments a week and a half later.

Fidelity National appealed the summary judgments within 30 days of the time the trial court issued Rule 304(a) language. But Fidelity’s Notice of Appeal was filed more than 30 days after the trial court granted the summary judgments.

Ahmad Khorrami claimed he was wrongfully detained and mistreated by the federal government in an investigation stemming from the 9/11 terrorist attack. Khorrami sued Michael Rolince, an FBI agent on whose affidavit Khorrami allegedly was detained, and the government. The lawsuit alleged multiple causes of action, including one against Rolince — Khorrami claimed Rolince’s affidavit was false — for violation of Fifth Amendment due process rights.

The government moved to dismiss the complaint (1) for failure to state a claim and (2) arguing that Rolince had qualified immunity for his affidavit. The trial court granted all aspects of the motion, except that it declined to rule on the government’s claim for qualified immunity. The government brought an interlocutory appeal, arguing there was qualified immunity and that the whole case should have been dismissed.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal. Because the immunity defense was postponed for later ruling by trial court, and not specifically ruled upon, there was not an order rejecting the immunity defense, which was a requirement for appeal. In addition, this was not a de facto denial of the immunity defense caused by a delay in ruling. The order setting aside the immunity ruling did not have a direct or irreparable impact on the merits of the case.

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