Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ALBERT
E. HALLETT, Judge, presiding. Appeal dismissed.
MR. JUSTICE ADESKO DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.
Rehearing denied July 5, 1967.
Plaintiffs appeal from an order vacating a default judgment entered against defendant pursuant to a complaint for damages arising out of an automobile accident.
The facts are not in dispute. On December 2, 1963, plaintiffs filed a complaint against the driver and owner (defendant in this appeal) of an automobile alleging personal injuries and praying for damages. The original summons was returned January 16, 1964, indicating that both the driver and defendant were not found. Alias Summons were issued and returned February 3, 1964. The return as to the instant defendant states:
"I certify that I served the within writ on the defendant Lorraine Olds, by leaving a copy at his/her usual place of abode in my county, with S.W. Woods a person of his/her family of the age of ten years or upwards and informing such person of the contents thereof on the 17 day of January 1964 and also by sending through the United States Post Office on the 17 day of January 1964 a copy of the within writ in a sealed envelope with postage fully prepaid addressed to the said defendant at such usual place of abode and no property found.
RICHARD B. OGILVIE, Sheriff, by /s/ Hamilton Deputy."
The defendant was found to be in default on July 30, 1964, and the cause was set for a prove up. On October 16, 1964, a prove up was held and damages were assessed in favor of each of the plaintiffs totaling $19,014.20 in the aggregate. No action was taken to collect this ex parte judgment for almost four months. There is no question but that prior to the entry of the ex parte judgment, plaintiffs' attorney had been in contact with defendant's insurance carrier. Plaintiffs' attorney also sent a letter to defendant prior to the entry of the default judgment. This letter, sent certified mail, was returned by the post office marked "unclaimed."
On June 25, 1965, defendant filed a special appearance and moved the court to quash the service of summons. In support of this motion defendant filed an affidavit in which she stated that no person named "Woods" was a member of her family. The transcripts of interview with six persons who lived in the same building as defendant were also attached to the motion. Four of these persons had lived there in January, 1964. No one had ever heard of a man named "Woods." The janitor for the building stated no such name ever appeared on the doorbell and the owner stated he never had such a name on any lease.
Plaintiffs filed no counteraffidavits but answered defendant's motion alleging that she was not entitled to any relief since she was guilty of laches and lack of diligence. After a hearing on the motion the following order, from which plaintiff appeals, was entered:
"This cause coming on to be heard on the motion of defendant, Lorraine Olds, to vacate the judgment heretofore entered against her on October 15, 1964, and said defendant having filed herein her `Special Appearance', affidavits in support of her Motion to Quash service of Summons and Suggestions of Fact and Law and plaintiff's answer to said pleadings and the Court hearing arguments of counsel and being advised in the premises
"Finds that the judgment heretofore entered against the said Lorraine Olds is void and
"(1) Service of Summons upon said defendant is quashed and the default of July 30, 1964 (is set aside).
"(2) Judgment entered October 15, 1964 against said defendant is vacated, set aside and held for naught.
"(3) Defendant is given thirty days to answer or otherwise plead and her Special Appearance shall stand ...