APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. DANIEL
J. COVELLI, Judge, presiding.
MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE DIERINGER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
This is an appeal from a summary judgment entered in favor of Tony L. Biggs (hereinafter called "the plaintiff") by the circuit court of Cook County. The summary judgment ordered a preliminary injunction previously entered be made permanent, and granted the plaintiff back pay because of the improper termination of his employment.
The issues presented for review are whether relief in equity (injunction) may be granted in a case where a remedy may be had at law (mandamus), and whether the plaintiff is guilty of laches.
The plaintiff was employed as an X-ray Supply Clerk II at Cook County Hospital in 1968. The Cook County Hospital is under the jurisdiction of the Health and Hospitals Governing Commission of Cook County (hereinafter called "the Commission"). The plaintiff was granted career status within the Commission's merit system.
As a career employee he could not be discharged, demoted, or suspended for a period of more than 30 days, except for cause and upon written charges (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 34, par. 5026).
On February 15, 1972, the Commission adopted a resolution establishing a compulsory retirement program for all of its employees. On January 19, 1973, the plaintiff was retired from his employment. The termination was effected pursuant to the resolution, without cause and without a hearing.
On August 15, 1974, the Illinois appellate court in Sibley v. Health & Hospitals' Governing Com. (1st Dist. 1974), 22 Ill. App.3d 632, 317 N.E.2d 642, held the compulsory retirement resolution was invalid and removals were without lawful authority.
On September 18, 1974, the result of the appellate court action was published in a Chicago Tribune newspaper article. On September 23, 1974, the plaintiff presented himself with a copy of the newspaper article to the personnel department of the Cook County Hospital and requested reinstatement with back pay. The plaintiff was advised he would not be rehired.
On November 1, 1974, the plaintiff filed a class action complaint for injunctive relief. This complaint was stricken by the court and on June 2, 1975, an amended complaint was filed.
On November 8, 1975, the plaintiff filed a motion for a preliminary injunction reinstating him to his position of employment. The motion was granted on that day.
On April 8, 1976, a motion for summary judgment, together with an affidavit of the plaintiff in support of the motion, was filed with the court. On June 17, 1976, the court entered an order granting plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, and ordered the preliminary injunction previously entered be made permanent and the plaintiff be granted back pay from January 19, 1973 to November 12, 1974. From this order the defendants appeal.
The defendants argue the plaintiff's remedy in this matter was limited to his remedy at law, mandamus, and the remedy of injunction was erroneously allowed. This conclusion is the result of applying the equitable rule that "equity will not assume jurisdiction to grant relief where an adequate remedy at law exists." Clarendon Associates v. Korzen (1973), 56 Ill.2d 101, 105, 306 N.E.2d 299, 301.
1 It must be recognized, however, that the Judicial Article embodied in the Illinois Constitution of 1970 has abolished the distinction between courts> of law and equity so that our State's circuit courts> have "original jurisdiction of all justiciable matters." (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 9.) Consequently, our analysis is directed toward the apparent incongruity between the Illinois Constitution and the decisions of the Illinois Supreme Court.
In discussing the development of the law regarding the distinction between law and equity it may prove helpful to examine the origin of said distinction, as well as the applicable ...