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03/23/88 April Rivard Et Al., v. Chicago Fire Fighters

March 23, 1988

APRIL RIVARD ET AL., APPELLEES

v.

CHICAGO FIRE FIGHTERS UNION, LOCAL NO. 2 ET AL., APPELLANTS; BONNELL CARTER, ADM'R OF THE ESTATES OF MARTHA CARTER ET AL.

v.

CHICAGO FIRE FIGHTERS



SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS

Association of Fire Fighters,

AFL-CIO, Appellant)

Nos. 63713, 63787 cons.

522 N.E.2d 1195, 122 Ill. 2d 303, 119 Ill. Dec. 336 1988.IL.402

Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Thomas O'Brien, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the court. JUSTICE CUNNINGHAM took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE CLARK

This case poses the issue of whether a statute allowing voluntary, unincorporated associations to sue and to be sued in their own names should be retroactively applied to a suit against such an association where the cause of action arose before the statute's effective date. We answer this question in the negative.

The plaintiffs in the two actions consolidated below sought damages from the defendant, a fire fighters union, for death and injuries suffered in fires which occurred during a strike called by the union in 1980. The plaintiffs are: April Rivard; Robert Oliver, administrator of the estate of Latrice Louis Rivard, deceased; Bonnell Carter, administrator of the estates of Martha Carter, Caenezell Carter, Harvey Carter, and Henry Carter, deceased; and Harvey and Martha Teague, administrators of the estate of Harvey Teague II, deceased. The defendants are the Chicago Fire Fighters Union, Local No. 2, and the International Association of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO, and certain of its officers in a representative capacity. The circuit court granted the defendant's motion to dismiss on the grounds that, under the common law, a voluntary unincorporated association could not be sued in its own name in an action at law. (See American Federation of Technical Engineers, Local 144 v. La Jeunesse (1976), 63 Ill. 2d 263.) The plaintiffs appealed to the appellate court. While the appeal was pending, the General Assembly amended the Code of Civil Procedure to allow voluntary unincorporated associations to sue and be sued in their own names (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 2-209.1). The appellate court, holding that section 2-209.1 should be applied retroactively, then reversed. (145 Ill. App. 3d 207.) This decision directly conflicted with a previous decision of the appellate court. (See Brucato v. Edgar (1984), 128 Ill. App. 3d 260.) We granted the defendant's petition for leave to appeal (107 Ill. 2d R. 315 (a)).

The remainder of the facts pertinent to this appeal are contained in the legislative history of section 2 -- 209.1.

The bill which enacted section 2 -- 209.1, Public Act 83 -- 901, was originally passed by both houses of the General Assembly with no Dissenting votes. It was then presented to the Governor.

On September 19, 1983, the Governor amendatorily vetoed the bill. (See Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV, § 9(e).) His amendatory veto recommended that section 2 -- 209.1 should be prospective rather than retroactive, that its prospective nature should be clearly stated in that statute itself, and that it should "apply only to causes of action accruing after the effective date of this Amendatory Act of 1983," or January 1, 1984.

Shortly thereafter, both houses of the General Assembly voted to override the Governor's amendatory veto. Senator Bloom, the author, chief sponsor, and a member of the judiciary ...


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