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Hutchison v. Woodstock Community Sch. Dist.

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 2, 1978.

COLINA R. HUTCHISON ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,

v.

WOODSTOCK COMMUNITY UNIT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 200 ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES. — (ROY DOOLEY ET AL., CROSS-PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,

v.

WOODSTOCK COMMUNITY UNIT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 200 ET AL., CROSS-DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.)



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of McHenry County; the Hon. WILLIAM J. GLEASON, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE GUILD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied January 26, 1979.

On December 1, 1975, the plaintiffs filed a declaratory judgment complaint against the Woodstock Community Unit School District; the Board of Education of that district; the members of the board individually; Joseph M. Cronin, the State Superintendent of Education; Edward W. Hall, Superintendent of the Educational Service Region of McHenry County; and Roy J. Habeck, Superintendent of the Woodstock Community Unit School District No. 200 of McHenry County. The plaintiffs prayed for a declaratory judgment as to alleged violation of their Federal and State constitutional rights; for discovery and accounting of the District's financial status; for an injunction restraining expenditures of money for the addition to the high school building until all safety and health hazards had been corrected; and for a mandatory injunction that the defendants remedy the situation.

Within 30 days, on January 26, 1976, two of the defendant board members, Dooley and Mason, filed a cross-complaint (the cross-complaint should be properly termed a counterclaim and is so referred to herein; see Illinois Civil Practice Act, Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 110, par. 38(1)) against the other members of the Board of Education, the Board of Education, the Superintendent of Schools of Community Unit School District No. 200 and Joseph Frett & Son, Inc., the contractor. In this counterclaim the two members of the school board sought a temporary injunction to compel the board from paying out funds for the construction of the high school; to cease construction; and that a permanent writ of injunction be issued restraining payments for the construction without approval of the voters by referendum.

On January 30, 1976, the State Superintendent of Education filed his motion to strike and dismiss the original complaint against him, alleging that the complaint was conclusory and failed to state any specific statutory authority which clothed the State Superintendent of Education with authority to compel corrective action for violation of safety standards; that he did not have the statutory power to require the school district to use the proper accounting procedures; and that the remedial power to correct alleged violations of safety standards is vested in the Superintendent of the Educational Service Region. On December 17, 1975, the Superintendent of the Educational Service Region of McHenry County had filed his motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the complaint did not set forth any breach of duty on his part and that the complaint did not request any relief as to him. On February 6, 1976, the motions were granted and the State Superintendent of Education and the Superintendent of the Educational Service Region were dismissed as parties defendant and the plaintiff was given 28 days to file an amended complaint against the State Superintendent of Education and the Superintendent of Educational Service Region, which was not done.

A hearing was had as to the counterclaim of Dooley and Mason and on April 30, 1976, judgment was entered against the counterplaintiffs. On June 25, 1976, plaintiffs in the original action filed a motion to vacate the judgment order against counterclaimants Dooley and Mason entered April 30, 1976. On June 25 the court properly denied this motion, specifically finding that plaintiff had no standing to vacate an order entered against counterclaimants. It is scarcely necessary to point out that the attorney for the plaintiffs did not represent the counterclaimants but had sued them as defendants.

On May 26, 1976, the court dismissed the original complaint as to all defendants but the Board of Education and gave plaintiffs 30 days to file an amended complaint against that board only. On July 27, 1976, plaintiffs filed a motion to add "all past members of the Board of Education and all present members of the Board of Education not presently parties to this action * * *." Examination of the record discloses that the board members Thompson, Dooley and Schultz left the board on April 10, 1976, and three new members were elected on or about that date. No disposition of this motion is in the record, presumably because the amended complaint was dismissed as to all parties on August 20, 1976. After the filing of the first amended complaint on July 23, 1976, the trial court, on August 20, 1976, entered a final order dismissing the amended complaint as to all defendants. On July 23, 1976, the plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal from the orders of April 30 and June 25, 1976. On September 13, 1976, the plaintiffs filed their second notice of appeal from the orders of February 6, 1976, May 26, 1976, and August 20, 1976, the latter being the order dismissing the amended complaint as to all defendants. It is to be noted that the state's attorney of McHenry County filed an appearance on behalf of the Superintendent of the Educational Service Region and moved to dismiss the complaint as to him. The record does not disclose a specific order of dismissal as to this party but it is obvious that the orders of dismissal as to all defendants but the Board of Education and the subsequent dismissal of the amended complaint as to all defendants would encompass the dismissal as to the Superintendent of Educational Services Region. While both notices of appeal disclose that the state's attorney was notified of the appeal, he has not filed an appearance or brief on behalf of the Superintendent of the Educational Service Region.

In this court all defendants have filed a motion to dismiss the appeal and we have ordered that these motions be taken with the case.

Before we attempt to reach the issues in this most garbled appeal we must first examine the amended complaint filed on July 23, 1976, after the original complaint had been dismissed and after the counterclaim had been dismissed on April 30, 1976. The amended complaint alleges the original complaint; the original counterclaim of Dooley and Mason sought to raise facts or allegations which had not occurred at the time of filing the original complaint and sought discovery of various parties for the purpose of filing a "supplemental complaint," including inquiry as to why Dooley and Mason did not appeal the dismissal of their counterclaim. In substance, therefore, the plaintiffs merely realleged the original complaint, the counterclaim of Dooley and Mason and sought discovery. It can thus be seen that because of the argumentative and confusing pleadings herein, compounded with the dilatory actions of the plaintiffs both in the trial court and in this court, it is extremely difficult to arrive at the issues presented in this appeal.

As nearly as we can ascertain from the examination of the briefs of all parties and the record, the following possible issues are presented to us:

1. By the plaintiffs as to dismissal of the original complaint.

A. Was there a purported violation of constitutional rights as to a healthful environment because of alleged violations of safety standards?

B. Were the plaintiffs entitled to an accounting and financial status of the Board of Education?

C. Should an injunction have been issued restricting expenditures of money until safety standards were corrected?

2. By the plaintiffs as to the dismissal of the first amended complaint.

A. Did the plaintiffs have the right to add to their complaint the complaint of the countercomplainants which had been previously dismissed by ...


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