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Johnson v. Empire Mutual Insurance Co.

OPINION FILED APRIL 6, 1979.

CHARLES A. JOHNSON, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

EMPIRE MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. NATHAN ENGELSTEIN, Judge, presiding.

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

Defendants appeal an order vacating a prior dismissal and setting the case for immediate trial. They present issues as to whether the trial court had jurisdiction to enter the order and, if so, whether it erred in granting the relief requested.

Because of the view we take of this matter, the allegations of plaintiff's second amended complaint will not be set forth in detail. It will suffice to state that he sought damages for an alleged breach of contract by the defendant insurance companies and for an alleged libel by defendant Brill, an employee of defendant Empire Mutual Insurance Company.

It appears that after certain preliminary matters were attended by the trial court, the case was eventually set for trial on January 10, 1977, and continued from day to day until January 13, when an order dismissing the case was entered because plaintiff's counsel had informed the court that plaintiff would not proceed to trial. Thereafter, the record discloses that the following pertinent orders were entered during 1977:

Feb. 4 On plaintiff's pro se motion, the January 13 dismissal order was vacated.

Feb. 7 Plaintiff's attorney was granted leave to withdraw his appearance.

Feb. 14 Order setting the case for trial on February 18.

Feb. 18 Order dismissing the case after plaintiff appeared pro se and informed the court that he was not ready for trial.

Mar. 17 Order continuing to April 5 a pro se motion of plaintiff to vacate the dismissal order of 2-18. The order also directed plaintiff to be ready for trial on 4-5, with or without counsel.

May 18 Order denying the motion of plaintiff to vacate the dismissal order of 2-18.

July 28 Order denying the pro se motion of plaintiff to vacate all prior dismissal orders and to reinstate the case.

Sept. 29 Order denying motions of plaintiff for change of venue and to vacate all prior dismissal orders.

Oct. 28 Order continuing motion of plaintiff for change of venue to 11-3 and setting the ...


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