Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County, Seventeenth
Judicial Circuit; the Hon. ALBERT S. O'SULLIVAN, Judge,
MR. JUSTICE SEIDENFELD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.
Plaintiff appeals from an order of the trial court opening a default judgment against defendant in a replevin action, upon defendant's motion with supporting affidavits filed more than thirty days after the rendition of judgment.
Plaintiff's claim of error is that the motion, under section 72 of the Civil Practice Act, was not sufficient to show the due diligence required.
The record shows that the plaintiff filed an "Affidavit for Replevin" on June 15, 1967 (under the 1965 Statutes then in force) in which its agent deposed that plaintiff was lawfully entitled to certain household furnishings described, of the value not exceeding $1,200; that defendant detains such property; that said property has not been taken for any tax, assessment, or fine levied by virtue of any law, nor seized under any execution or attachment against goods of the plaintiff, nor by virtue of any Writ of Replevin against the plaintiff.
Plaintiff's replevin bond was filed with the Sheriff and approved by him in the amount of $2,500, on June 15, 1967.
A "Writ of Replevin" was issued on June 20, 1967, and was personally served on the defendant on June 21, 1967.
On June 29, 1967, plaintiff, by its attorney, filed an unverified complaint setting forth a retail installment contract of sales to defendant on various dates, describing the same property described previously in the Writ, alleging recovery of certain of the items and detention of others. The complaint alleged the value of the unrecovered property in the amount of $600 and damages in the amount of $400, plus reasonable attorney's fees and costs. No notice of the filing of the complaint was given to defendant.
A judgment order was entered by default on July 20, 1967, finding right of possession to the property levied on under the Writ of Replevin to be in the plaintiff, and ordering defendant to pay $600 as damages and $250 attorney's fees.
Defendant filed his motion to vacate the judgment on October 9, 1967, alleging that he had never received a copy of the complaint nor notice of the default hearing; that he has a meritorious defense and "a counterclaim"; and that he has been diligent in presenting the motion. The motion is supported by the defendant's affidavit stating "that a wage deduction order has been filed by plaintiff against his wages"; that the sales contract was "grossly and fraudulently altered, forged or raised in its amount" after he signed it; that the plaintiff forcibly and illegally seized his property on June 21, 1967, including $400 of the defendant's money cached therein"; that his lawyer refused to accept the case at that time because of the urgency of his other business, and that though he has persistently sought counsel none has been available to him until now.
Plaintiff, thereafter, filed a motion to strike defendant's motion charging lack of due diligence. In an attached affidavit plaintiff, by its attorney, alleged that an affidavit for garnishment had been filed on the judgment against defendant's employer on July 24, 1967, and summons served on the defendant; that defendant, through his attorney, filed a "notice of defense" with the employer on July 29, 1967, and partial payment of wages was paid to defendant; that a second garnishment was served on August 24, 1967 and partial payment made; and that on October 5, 1967, a third garnishment affidavit was filed and summons issued.
On October 30, 1967, the court heard arguments and ruled in favor of the defendant ordering the opening of the judgment and giving defendant leave to answer and counterclaim.
A motion to dismiss the appeal has been filed by defendant on the ground that the order vacating the judgment is not final and appealable. This motion has been taken with the case.
We determine, however, that the order is appealable under the express provisions of chapter 110, section 72, Ill Rev Stats 1967. ...