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Supreme Court Quick Takes

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases People ex rel. Madigan v. Burge and Kanerva v. Weems.

People ex rel. Madigan v. Burge

By Michael T. Reagan, Law Offices of Michael T. Reagan, Ottawa

People ex rel. Madigan v. Burge, which involves great  public interest because of the alleged actions of defendant while supervisor of the Violent Crimes Unit detectives of an area for the Chicago Police Department, ends, as it began in the circuit court, with the conclusion that the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to consider this case. The reasoning and judgment of the circuit court were affirmed; the appellate court was reversed.

In 1997 Jon Burge applied for and received pension benefits from the policemen’s benefit fund. In 2003, a federal civil rights lawsuit was filed by a plaintiff who alleged that he was tortured and abused by officers under Burge’s command. In answers to written interrogatories in that suit, Burge denied under oath having knowledge of, or participating in, the torture or abuse of persons in custody of the Chicago Police Dept. In 2010, Burge was convicted of felonies for making false answers to interrogatories.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases In re the Estate of Powell, In re N.C., a Minor, and In re Marrigate of Turk.

In re the Estate of Powell

By Michael T. Reagan, Law Offices of Michael T. Reagan, Ottawa

In re Estate of Powell, 2014 IL 115997, holds that an attorney who brings a wrongful death action owes a legal duty to the decedent’s beneficiaries at the distribution of funds phase of that action.  The court rejected the contentions of the defendant attorneys in this legal malpractice case that an attorney engaged to prosecute a wrongful death action only owes a duty to the personal representative of the estate and not to the beneficiaries of the action.  The court also rejected a defense contention that the potential, unpled here, of a conflict among beneficiaries should negate the imposition of a duty to the beneficiaries.  The court stated it was making no determination as to the scope of duty when a conflict among the beneficiaries is specifically alleged.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Bridgeview Health Care Center, Ltd. v. State Farm Fire and In re of Marriage of Donald B. and the criminal cases In re Brandon P., People v. Stahl and People v. Stoecker. The court also released In re Commitment of Fields, In re Rita P., People v. Bingham, WISAM 1, Inc. v. Illinois Liquor Control Commission and Nelson v. The County of Kendall.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the criminal cases People v. Clark, People v. Melongo, People v. Fernandez, People v. Easley, People v. Davis and People v. Cummings. In People v. Clark and People v. Melongo the Court unanimously held that the current eavesdropping statute is unconstitutional.

People v. Clark and People v. Melongo

By Jay Wiegman, Office of the State Appellate Defender

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court civil opinions in the civil cases BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP v. Mitchell, In re Marriage of Tiballi, Spanish Court Two Condominium Association v. Carlson and Home Star Bank and Financial Services, etc. v. Emergency Care and Health Organization, Ltd.

BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP v. Mitchell  (PDF)

By Michael T. Reagan, Law Offices of Michael T. Reagan, Ottawa

In the context of a motion attacking foreclosure proceedings for lack of proper service filed after confirmation of the report of sale, BAC Home Loans Servicing v. Mitchell “reaffirms the longstanding rule that ‘a party who submits to the court’s jurisdiction does so only prospectively and the appearance does not retroactively validate orders entered prior to that date.’”  The court resolved a conflict among appellate panels on the issue of whether a waiver of personal jurisdiction operated prospectively only, or whether it served to retroactively validate previous orders of the court entered without personal jurisdiction. 

The source of the controversy is the amendment of section 2-301 in 2000 which both eliminated the need for a special appearance and specified the manner of objecting to a court’s jurisdiction.  The court held that in context the amendment was ambiguous, and should therefore not be interpreted to contradict In re Marriage of Verdung, 126 Ill.2d 542 (1989), which applied the prospectively-only rule. 

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Friday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Bartlow v. Costigan and Evanston Insurance Company v. Riseborough and the criminal cases People v. Cregan and People v. Tousignant.

CIVIL

Bartlow v. Costigan

By Michael T. Reagan, Law Offices of Michael T. Reagan, Ottawa

The Employee Classification Act (820 ILCS 185/1) was enacted to “address the practice of misclassifying employees as independent contractors” in the construction industry.  The Act broadly defines “performing services” for a construction contractor, and then states that an individual performing such services is “deemed to be an employee of the employer.” 

People v. Bailey

By Kerry J. Bryson, Office of the State Appellate Defender

In a unanimous decision, the Court reviewed the revestment doctrine. Since its first application in a criminal case in 1983 (in People v. Kaeding, 98 Ill. 2d 237), the revestment doctrine has always provided that a circuit court may be revested with jurisdiction over an untimely post-judgment motion where there is (1) active participation by the parties, (2) without objection, (3) in proceedings inconsistent with the merits of the earlier judgment. At issue was the meaning of the last element, "proceedings inconsistent with the merits of the earlier judgment." The Court clarified that the last element is met only in those circumstances where both parties assert positions that support setting aside at least part of the judgment. A failure to object on the basis of timeliness is not sufficient to revest the court with jurisdiction, rejecting the position asserted by the defendant.

The Court also clarified that the appropriate result in the case of improper revestment is not for the appellate court to dismiss the appeal. Rather, the appellate court should vacate the trial court's order addressing the merits of an untimely motion and should order that the untimely motion be dismissed.

This opinion confirms that the revestment doctrine is very narrow and will only apply in situations where both parties agree that there should be some modification to the final judgment. Thus, no party should rely on its ability to invoke the revestment doctrine and revest court with jurisdiction over an untimely pleading.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Friday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil case Gillespie Community Unit School District No. 7 v. Wight & Co. and the criminal cases People v. Elliott, People v. Hommerson and People v. McChriston.

CIVIL

Gillespie Community Unit School District No. 7 v. Wight & Co.

By Karen Kies DeGrand, Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth LLC

The Illinois Supreme Court applied a five-year statute of limitations to bar a school district’s lawsuit alleging that an architect’s misrepresentations resulted in the district’s decision to build an elementary school that was condemned less than seven years after it was built. A history of coal mining activity in the Benld/Gillespie area of the state prompted the plaintiff, Gillespie Community Unit School District No. 7, to contract with  defendant, Wight & Company, to perform, among other architectural services, a “site mine investigation” before determining to go forward with the project. Based on the analysis provided regarding the risk of mine “subsidence,” that is, collapse, the school district went ahead at the site selected. Unfortunately, in March, 2009, a coal mine subsided beneath the new building, which was severely damaged.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Hooker v. The Retirement Board of the Firemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago, American Access Casualty Co. v. Reyes, and The Venture-Newberg-Perini, Stone & Webster v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and the criminal cases In re Danielle J. and People v. Brown.

CIVIL

Hooker v. Retirement Board of the Firemen's Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago

By Michael T. Reagan, Law Offices of Michael T. Reagan, Ottawa

This case resolved the issue of whether annuities paid to the widows of two Chicago firemen who suffered duty-related injuries and later died should have included “duty availability pay,” which had never been received by these decedents, in the calculation of the amounts. The calculation of an annuity is to be based on “the current annual salary attached to the classified position to which the fireman was certified at the time of his death.” The court noted that the amount of the annuity does not depend on the fireman’s actual salary during his career. “Duty availability pay” is paid on a quarterly basis to all firemen, except certain employees assigned to platoon duty.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Wells Fargo Bank v. McCluskey, Hartney Fuel Oil Company v. Hamer, The Board of Education of Roxana Community Unit School District No. 1 v. The Pollution Control Board, Schultz v. Performance Lighting, Inc., Rogers v. Imeri and the criminal cases People v. Radojcic and People v. Pikes.