APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FIFTH DIVISION
508 N.E.2d 246, 155 Ill. App. 3d 667, 108 Ill. Dec. 85 1987.IL.436
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Thomas J. O'Brien, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE PINCHAM delivered the opinion of the court. LORENZ and O'CONNOR, JJ., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE PINCHAM
This is an interlocutory appeal from the trial court's order denying defendants' motions to dismiss plaintiff's third complaint for damages resulting from an alleged breach of express and implied warranties arising out of the plaintiff's use in his landscaping service of an herbicide manufactured by defendant CIBA-GEIGY Corporation and sold to plaintiff by defendant Lake-Cook Supply. Plaintiff's first complaint was filed on September 25, 1978. Only defendant CIBA-GEIGY was served with process. This complaint was dismissed for want of prosecution on May 22, 1980. Plaintiff's second complaint was filed on February 8, 1982. The statute of limitations for plaintiff's cause of action expired April 17, 1982. After plaintiff's second complaint was served on both defendants it was voluntarily dismissed without prejudice on March 10, 1983. Plaintiff's third complaint was filed on June 6, 1983. Defendants' motions to dismiss plaintiff's third complaint based on the statute of limitations were denied. The question certified by the trial court for our consideration is whether section 13-217 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 13-217) allows the filing of a third complaint almost 14 months after the statute of limitations when the first complaint was dismissed for want of prosecution and the second complaint, filed within the statute of limitations, was voluntarily dismissed 11 months after the statute of limitations had expired. Defendants contend that section 13-217 did not toll the statute of limitations, that plaintiff invoked that section when he filed a second complaint, and that section 13-217 allowed plaintiff only one refiling of his complaint.
Section 13 -- 217 provides in pertinent part:
"here the time for commencing an action is limited, if . . . the action is dismissed for want of prosecution . . . then, whether or not the time limitation for bringing such action expires during the pendency of such action, the plaintiff . . . may commence a new action within one year or within the remaining period of limitation, whichever is greater."
The decisions of this court hold that section 13 -- 217 does not authorize multiple refilings of the same action. In Phillips v. Elrod (1985), 135 Ill. App. 3d 70, 478 N.E.2d 1078, this court held that section 24(a), the predecessor of section 13 -- 217, does not authorize successive refilings of the same complaint but permits only a single refiling within a year of dismissal. In Phillips, the plaintiff's first cause of action in the circuit court of Cook County was voluntarily dismissed. The plaintiff's second complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois alleged that it was a refiling under section 24 from the prior State court action. The plaintiff filed a third complaint in the circuit court of Cook County and was thereafter permitted to reinstate her Federal district court case. The Federal complaint was later dismissed for want of prosecution. The appellate court affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the third complaint in the circuit court of Cook County because the action was barred by the statute of limitations. The court stated that the plaintiff's State and Federal causes of action were premised upon the identical core of operative facts and constituted the same cause of action for purposes of the applicability of section 24. 135 Ill. App. 3d 70, 74, 478 N.E.2d 1078.
In Smith v. Chicago Transit Authority (1978), 67 Ill. App. 3d 385, 385 N.E.2d 62, the plaintiff's first and second complaints were dismissed for want of prosecution and the plaintiff's third complaint, filed after the statute of limitations had expired, was dismissed with prejudice. Citing the following language from Harrison v. Woyahn (7th Cir. 1958), 261 F.2d 412, 413, the court in Smith stated:
"Section 24(a) mentions only 'a new action' not multiple actions and significantly reads in terms of relief following in the wake of an initial action." (67 Ill. App. 3d 385, 387.)
The court stated further that the Harrison court held that a plaintiff does not have the right to repeatedly refile complaints more than one year after the original complaint has been dismissed. Regarding the trial court's decision dismissing the plaintiff's third complaint in the case before it, the Smith court held:
"he trial court in the present case correctly dismissed the action. We believe that section 24 [now section 13 -- 217] permitting the filing of a new action after the original period of limitations runs does not have the same literal meaning as the original statute of limitation. The original period is not added or extended for an additional year . . .. It thus acts as a limited extension to prevent inJustice; it should not be permitted to become a harassing renewal of litigation. The statute should be liberally construed, but a liberal construction does not warrant an addition to the period fixed by statute." 67 Ill. App. 3d 385, 388.
Smith has been interpreted to hold that section 24(a) only permits one additional filing after the first complaint has been dismissed. La-Barge, Inc. v. Corn Belt Bank ...