Illinois Appellate Court Dismisses Appeal That Was Not Final

The Illinois Appellate Court dismissed an appeal taken from the Circuit Court of Cook County. This case involved Isaiah DeLaCruz, who was hit by a car while crossing a Chicago street. An uninsured motorist was driving the vehicle that struck DeLaCruz. However, it was determined that the vehicle was used as a weapon to run over DeLaCruz, who later died of his injuries.

The plaintiff, Universal Casualty Co., had issued an insurance policy to Ana Ocampo, who was a relative of DeLaCruz. Universal claimed that because this incident was not an accident, but rather an intentional criminal act on the part of the motorist who struck DeLaCruz, it would not be responsible under its uninsured motorist coverage. 

Universal filed a declaratory judgment action in Cook County against the estate of DeLaCruz.In December 2011, the estate moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to §2-615 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure. In March 2012, the trial judge in the Circuit Court granted the motion to dismiss. In that decision, the judge granted Universal’s motion for leave to file an amended complaint and the court’s order noted that the dismissal was entered without prejudice.

In September 2012, at the request of at least one of the parties, the Circuit Court entered another order that its decision regarding the dismissal was “final and appealable.”  Universal filed a notice of appeal shortly thereafter.

The appellate court noted that Universal had failed on many levels to comply with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 342 in terms of its appellate brief.It failed to comply in format and other ways and was reminded by the court that the rules are not suggestions, but rather rules to be followed. 

In the briefs, neither party challenged the appellate court’s jurisdiction to even entertain the appeal. But the jurisdictional issue was raised by the court, sua sponte, stating that the dismissal of the case for which this appeal was taken was not with prejudice and was not a final order. In fact, the appellate court found that since the dismissal order was not appealable, the appeal was dismissed.

The Circuit Court’s declaration that the dismissal order was final and appealable is not an expressed written finding about the justice of delaying enforcement, appeal or both. The case law the appellate court noted specifies that, “The mere presence of [the relevant] language cannot make a nonfinal order final and appealable.” Accordingly, the appellate court dismissed the appeal for want of jurisdiction.

Universal Casualty Co. v. Estate of Isaiah DeLaCruz, No. 1-12-2890 (May 28, 2013).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile, truck and bicycle accidents for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Chicago (Avondale), Chicago (Dunning), Chicago (Garfield Ridge), Chicago (Kenwood), Batavia, Aurora, Burbank, Elmhurst, Forest Park, Park Forest, Gurnee, Homewood, Flossmoor and Lisle, Ill.

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