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04/28/87 Thomas Kadlec, v. the Department of Public

April 28, 1987

THOMAS KADLEC, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC AID, GREGORY COLER, DIRECTOR, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, SECOND DIVISION

508 N.E.2d 342, 155 Ill. App. 3d 384, 108 Ill. Dec. 181 1987.IL.548

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. George M. Marovich, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

PRESIDING JUSTICE SCARIANO delivered the opinion of the court. STAMOS and BILANDIC, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE SCARIANO

On July 5, 1985, Thomas Kadlec (Kadlec), plaintiff-appellee, was granted a hearing before the Illinois Department of Public Aid (the IDPA) concerning the rejection of his application for medical assistance under the Aid to the Aged, Blind or Disabled program. On July 12, 1985, the IDPA issued a "Final Administrative Decision" which affirmed the denial.

Consequently, the IDPA filed a motion to remand the matter to the Department for a new administrative hearing, requesting that the court provide it the opportunity to prepare a complete and accurate transcript thereof. On October 2, 1985, the circuit court heard arguments and granted the IDPA's motion to remand for a new administrative hearing in order to produce a record for review and on its own initiative ordered Kadlec's counsel to submit a petition for attorney fees and costs inasmuch as the IDPA "screwed up by not having a good tape." In response to this order, Kadlec's counsel filed a petition only for attorney fees in the amount of $1,075.

Responding to the petition for fees, the IDPA asserted that its inability to prepare a complete transcript was not a proper basis upon which to award fees and that the circuit court did not have authority to enter such a money judgment. Kadlec replied that the court did have the power to impose fees under the dictates of section 2-611 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 2-611) or under the court's general equitable power (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 3-111). Kadlec's counsel then filed a supplemental petition, requesting an additional $1,025 in fees.

When the circuit court considered the petitions for fees on November 25, 1985, the trial Judge declined to set aside the October 2 order and instead addressed the propriety of the amount of fees Kadlec requested. The court entered an order granting Kadlec $1,400 in attorney fees, stating that its power to do so was predicated upon the "general equitable authority of the court to impose fees." We reverse.

The only question presented for review is whether the award of attorney fees was proper in this instance. The General Assembly has expressly granted exclusive jurisdiction to the Court of Claims to determine awards of attorney fees against the State or its agencies. Until recently, the doctrine of sovereign immunity had absolutely barred our courts from awarding costs against the State. However, article XIII of the 1970 Illinois Constitution decrees that "[e]xcept as the General Assembly may provide by law, sovereign immunity in this State is abolished." (Ill. Const. 1970, art. XIII, sec. 4.) In 1972, the General Assembly enacted legislation (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 127, par. 801) establishing that the State of Illinois may not be made a party in any court except as set forth in the Court of Claims Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 37, par. 439.1 et seq.) and defining the jurisdiction of the court as follows:

"The court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine the following matters:

(a) All claims against the state founded upon any law of the State of Illinois, or upon any regulation thereunder by an executive or administrative officer or agency, other than claims arising under the Workers' Compensation Act or the Workers' Occupational Diseases Act, or claims for expenses in civil litigation." (Emphasis added.) Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 37, par. 439.8.

The parties disagree as to the meaning of this language. Kadlec argues that the Court of Claims does not have exclusive jurisdiction over claims for expenses in civil litigation because the legislature intended to exclude such claims when it specifically juxtaposed them with "claims arising under the Worker's Compensation Act or the Worker's Occupational Diseases Act" after the clause "other than," and that therefore the circuit court validly exercised such authority. The IDPA, however, proposes that there are three distinct areas in which the Court of Claims has exclusive jurisdiction, the third of which is claims for expenses in litigation. According to the IDPA's interpretation, the Workers' Compensation Act or Workers' Occupational Diseases Act exceptions apply only to the second clause "upon any regulation thereunder by an executive or administrative officer or agency."

In order to ascertain which of these interpretations is correct, a brief analysis of the legislative history of this statute is helpful. Prior to 1977, section 8 of the Court of Claims Act did not cover ...


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