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Coleman v. Scott

NOVEMBER 3, 1966.

BERTHA COLEMAN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

ESTELLE SCOTT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Municipal Court of Chicago, First Municipal District of the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. WILLIAM F. PATTERSON, Judge, presiding. Judgment adverse to defendant, and order denying petition to vacate judgment, affirmed.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE SULLIVAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

This is an appeal from a judgment entered on January 5, 1965, by a magistrate of the circuit court, municipal division, in the amount of $10,000, and from an order denying a subsequent petition to vacate the judgment.

On March 31, 1959, an action for damages for personal injuries was filed by the plaintiff against the defendant. Thereafter the defendant filed an answer. On September 23, 1964, the case came on for trial and was held to the following day for the defendant's attorney to appear. On September 24, 1964, a default order was entered. Neither the defendant nor her attorney appeared, and a prove-up of the case was continued to October 26, 1964. On that date the prove-up was again continued to November 27, 1964, and again to December 11, 1964. On this last date the attorney for the defendant appeared and requested a continuance of the prove-up. The case was then continued until January 5, 1965. Neither the defendant nor her attorney appeared on the final date when the cause proceeded to trial before a jury, which returned a verdict in the amount of $10,000 in favor of the plaintiff. Judgment was entered upon said verdict.

The defendant filed a "Petition for Writ in the Nature of Error Coram Nobis under Section 72," by virtue of which the defendant sought to have the judgment of the court vacated on the theory that the magistrate of the circuit court did not have jurisdiction of the subject matter because the ad damnum in the complaint was $10,000.

At the time of the entry of judgment in this case the matter of assignments to magistrates was covered by statute under "An Act to limit or define matters to be assigned to magistrates. Approved August 9, 1963. Effective January 1, 1964." Section 1 of the above act (Ill Rev Stats 1963, c 37, par 621) read as follows:

"Subject to rules promulgated by the Supreme Court, the chief judge in each circuit or any judge designated by him may assign to magistrates, severally or by designation of office, by class or category of case, or in specific instances the matters set forth in this Act."

Section 2 of the above act provided in part as follows:

"Civil proceedings assignable to magistrates are as follows:

"(a) When the amount of money or damages or the value of personal property claimed does not exceed $5,000;

"(1) actions for the recovery of money only arising on contracts, express or implied; actions for damages for injury to person, property or reputation or for taking or detaining personal property, or for fraud;

We might note here that the General Assembly in its 1965 session, after the entry of judgment in the instant case, increased the amount in actions for damages for injury to person to $10,000, which were thereafter assignable to magistrates of the circuit court.

Article VI of the Illinois Constitution of 1870 was amended and became effective on January 1, 1964. This article is commonly referred to as the Judicial Article. Section 8 of Article VI of the Illinois Constitution now provides in part as follows:

"There shall be one Circuit Court for each judicial circuit which shall have such number of circuit and associate judges and magistrates as may be prescribed by law; . . . "The General Assembly shall limit ...


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