Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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Rozsavolgyi filed a charge of discrimination on the basis of disability with the Illinois Department of Human Rights against the city of Aurora. Rozsavolgyi had been employed by the city from 1992 until she was involuntarily discharged in 2012. Months later, Rozsavolgyi was notified that she had the right to commence a civil action. Rozsavolgyi filed suit, alleging civil rights violations under the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/1-101, including failure to accommodate her disability, disparate treatment, retaliation, and hostile work environment. The circuit court certified three questions for permissive interlocutory review to the appellate court under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 308. After the appellate court addressed each question Rozsavolgyi obtained a certificate of importance under Rule 316 as to one question: Does the Local Government and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/1, apply to a civil action under the Human Rights Act where the plaintiff seeks damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees, and costs? If yes, should the court modify, reject or overrule its prior holdings that the Tort Immunity Act applies only to tort actions and does not bar actions for constitutional violations? The Illinois Supreme Court vacated and remanded the appellate court’s response. The question is “improperly overbroad, should not have been answered, and does not warrant” review. The question ignores the breadth of the Human Rights Act, which provides for numerous types of civil actions for unlawful conduct in a variety of contexts. View "Rozsavolgyi v. The City of Aurora" on Justia Law

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Aspen American Insurance sued, claiming that the roof of a Michigan warehouse owned by Interstate had collapsed, causing the destruction of goods owned by Aspen’s insured, Eastern Fish. The complaint alleged that Interstate “maintain[s] a facility in or near Chicago.” Interstate acknowledged that it owns a warehouse in Joliet, Illinois. Interstate, an Indiana corporation, unsuccessfully moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. Aspen did not show that Interstate’s contacts with Illinois render it at home in that state under subsection (c) of the long-arm statute, 735 ILCS 5/2-209. While a foreign corporation must register with the Secretary of State and appoint an agent to accept service of process in order to conduct business in Illinois, absent any language to the contrary, the fact that a foreign corporation has registered to do business does not mean that the corporation has waived due process limitations on the exercise of personal jurisdiction, including with respect to cases that are completely unrelated to the corporation’s activities in Illinois. View "Aspen American Insurance Co. v. Interstate Warehouseing, Inc." on Justia Law

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Walter, age 39, died at home. Walter’s body was transported to the Moultrie County morgue, where the coroner was unable to determine the cause of death. Walter’s body was transferred to Springfield Memorial Medical Center for a full autopsy, where it was received by employees of Securitas, a private security firm that contracted with Memorial. Those employees placed the body in a closed steel case used to store severely decomposed remains, but did not place a visible identification tag on Walter’s body, nor affix an identification label to the case. They erroneously recorded in the morgue’s logbook that the body contained in the case was that of Carroll. Days later, Butler Funeral Home was given Walter’s body, rather than with Carroll’s body. Before the error was discovered, Butler cremated Walter’s body; no autopsy was performed on Walter’s body and no cause of death was ever determined. Walter’s mother sued. She settled with Memorial and Butler, and claimed tortious interference with her right to possess Walter’s body against Securitas. The circuit court dismissed, finding that plaintiff failed to plead sufficient facts to support the allegation of a duty owed by Securitas to the plaintiff. The appellate court reversed, rejecting defendant’s argument that, in order to state a claim for tortious interference with the right to possess a corpse, a plaintiff must plead specific facts demonstrating that the defendant’s misconduct was wilful and wanton. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed. Recovery in such cases is permissible upon a showing of ordinary negligence. View "Cochran v. Securitas Security Services USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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On May 9, the Hospital's mental health facility director filed a petition seeking emergency inpatient admission of Linda under 405 ILCS 5/3-600, stating that Linda was admitted on April 22. Section 3-611 provides: “Within 24 hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, after the respondent’s admission ... the facility director … shall file 2 copies of the petition ... with the court … the court shall set a hearing to be held within 5 days … after receipt of the petition. On June 11, the court held a hearing. Testimony focused on the fact that Linda had been admitted to a medical unit with medical problems but, while there, received psychiatric care. The court granted the petition. The appellate court first noted that Linda’s 90-day hospitalization had ended, rendering the appeal moot, but applied the public interest exception to mootness. The court determined that Linda’s “physical” admission to the hospital was not synonymous with “legal” admission and the medical floor, arguably, was not a “mental health facility” under the statute, so the petition was timely. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. The court disagreed with the distinction drawn between the medical floor and the mental health unit but reasoned that legal status may change while one is in a mental health facility. Linda did not demonstrate that her physical entry into the facility and her initial treatment were involuntary and, therefore, did not establish that the petition was not timely. View "In re Linda B." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff (Carle Foundation) owns four Urbana parcels of land that are used in connection with the operation of plaintiff’s affiliate, Carle Foundation Hospital. Before 2004, the parcels were deemed exempt from taxation under the Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/15-65(a) because their use was for charitable purposes. From 2004-2011, the Cunningham Township assessor terminated plaintiff’s charitable-use tax exemption. For tax years 2004-2008, plaintiff filed unsuccessful applications with the county board of review to exempt the parcels. Plaintiff filed no applications for tax years 2009-2011. In 2007, plaintiff filed suit. In 2012, Public Act 97-688 (section 15-86) took effect, establishing a new charitable-use exemption specifically for hospitals. Plaintiff argued that section 15-86 applies retroactively. The court agreed, but held that it was “obvious that resolution of the question of whether the standard established by section 15-86(c) applies to plaintiff’s claims will not resolve the merits of those claims.” The appellate court reversed, finding that section 15-86 violated the Illinois Constitution. The Illinois Supreme Court vacated, holding that the court lacked appellate jurisdiction because the trial court erred in entering an order under Rule 304(a). Plaintiff’s exemption claims and plaintiff’s request for a declaration as to what law governs those claims matters are “so closely related that they must be deemed part of a single claim for relief.” View "Carle Foundation v. Cunningham Township" on Justia Law

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Stone Street discovered that a judgment had been recorded against its property for failure to pay $1050 in fines and costs imposed by Chicago’s department of administrative hearings for violations of the building code more than a decade earlier. Stone Street sued, arguing that the original administrative proceedings were a nullity and could not serve as the basis for the judgment because it had not been given the requisite notice and had no opportunity to contest the alleged violations before judgment was entered. While notice was never given to Stone Street, a person named Johnson entered a written appearance in the administrative proceeding that culminated in the fine. Johnson represented that he was there on behalf of Stone Street, but Johnson, who died before the litigation arose, was not an attorney, had no affiliation of any kind with the company, and did not live in the property. The Illinois Supreme Court held that, bbecause Stone Street was never properly served with notice and because Johnson had no authority to appear on the company’s behalf, the Department failed to acquire personal jurisdiction over it. The Department’s 1999 judgment was therefore void ab initio and could be attacked at any time, either directly or collaterally. View "Stone Street Partners, LLC v. City of Chicago Department of Administrative Hearings" on Justia Law

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The Department of Children and Family Services indicated a finding of child abuse against Grimm. Grimm, a teacher, claimed that the report was inaccurate and requested its expunction. An administrative law judge recommended that Grimm’s request be denied. Nine days later (July 30), the Department issued its decision in a letter signed by its director, addressed to Grimm's attorney and indicating that it was sent via certified mail; it adopted and enclosed the ALJ's decision, stating, “you may seek judicial review under the provisions of the Administrative Review Law, 735 ILCS 5/3-101 … within 35 days of the date this decision was served on you.” On September 4, 36 days after the date of the letter, Grimm filed her complaint for judicial review, stating that her attorney received the decision no earlier than July 31, and that she did not receive the decision until August 12 or 13. The Department stated that it served Grimm when it mailed the letter. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the trial and appellate courts in finding that the Department’s decision was misleading and violated due process. The courts balanced Grimm’s constitutionally protected interest, the risk of an erroneous deprivation of that interest, and the value of substitute procedures against the burden on the Department to change boilerplate language in a letter announcing its final decision. View "Grimm v. Calica" on Justia Law

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Defendant’s 2007 first-degree murder conviction was affirmed. Defendant filed a post-conviction petition in 2010 alleging ineffective assistance of counsel and insufficient evidence, which was dismissed as frivolous. The appellate court affirmed. On March 25, 2012, defendant mailed a petition for relief from judgment (Code of Civil Procedure section 2-1401), claiming perjury by a state’s witness. Defendant attached a “proof/certificate of service,” which stated that the petition was mailed “with proper first-class postage attached thereto” via the prison mail system.” The certificate did not indicate that the petition was mailed via certified or registered mail as required by Illinois Supreme Court Rule 105. The petition was marked “received” on April 11 by the clerk’s office and file-marked and docketed on April 23. On May 24, the circuit court dismissed the petition as untimely and stated that the petition contained no argument of merit. An assistant state’s attorney was present. The appellate court vacated. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, rejecting defendant’s argument that the circuit court lacked personal jurisdiction over the state, based on his own failure to properly serve the state. A section 2-1401 petitioner must serve the responding party with notice in compliance with Rule 105. If the respondent is not properly served, the court lacks personal jurisdiction unless the respondent waives service or makes an appearance. The defendant is estopped from claiming service was improper based on his own failure to comply with the requirements of Rule 105. View "People v. Matthews" on Justia Law

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On May 18, 2009, plaintiff’s 90-year-old mother was admitted to Peoria’s Proctor Hospital for a rectal prolapse. During Kathryn’s hospitalization, she experienced numerous complications. On May 29, 2009, Kathryn died. In March, 2010, plaintiff received Kathryn’s medical records. In April 2011, plaintiff received an oral opinion that Drs. Williamson and Salimath were negligent in treating Kathryn. On May 10, 2011, plaintiff filed a complaint against those doctors. On February 28, 2013, Kathryn’s CT scans were reviewed upon plaintiff’s request. Dr. Dachman opined that Dr. Rhode’s failure to properly identify certain findings caused or contributed to the injury and death of Kathryn. In March 2013, plaintiff filed suit under Wrongful Death Act (740 ILCS 180/1) and the Survival Act (755 ILCS 5/27-6), claiming medical malpractice against Rhode. Defendants argued that plaintiff had sufficient information more than two years before he filed his complaint to put him on inquiry to determine whether actionable conduct was involved, so that, even if the “discovery rule” applied, the complaint was untimely. The trial court dismissed the complaint with prejudice. A divided appellate court affirmed, reasoning that the discovery rule had no application to wrongful death or survival actions because both causes of action were legislatively created and not found at common law and that, even if that rule were applied, plaintiff’s complaint would be untimely. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, finding the discovery rule applicable. A factual determination must be made as to when the statute of limitations began to run. Plaintiff filed his lawsuit less than two years after receiving the initial verbal medical expert report and within the four-year statute of repose. View "Moon v. Rhode" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a complaint alleging medical negligence and loss of consortium against defendants (doctors and medical providers). Defendants moved for leave to file a 12-person jury demand and “to declare Public Act 98-1132, which amended 735 ILCS 5/2-1105(b), as unconstitutional.” Act 98-1132 limits the size of a civil jury to six persons and increases the amount paid per day to jurors across the state. The circuit court found the provision regarding the size of a jury facially unconstitutional based on article I, section 13, of the Illinois Constitution, which protects the right of trial by jury “as heretofore enjoyed.” The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, finding that “as heretofore enjoyed,” means the right as it was enjoyed at the time the constitution was drafted. Transcripts from the convention debates make clear that the drafters did not believe the legislature had the authority to reduce the size of a jury below 12 members and the drafters did not act to give the legislature such power. The provision regarding jury size cannot be severed from the remainder of the Act, which addresses juror pay, so the Act is entirely invalid. View "Kakos v. Butler" on Justia Law