APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT
PATRICIA MOELLER et al., on behalf of themselves and all
525 N.E.2d 86, 170 Ill. App. 3d 634, 121 Ill. Dec. 280 1988.IL.665
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Rock Island County; the Hon. Robert W. Castendyck, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE WOMBACHER delivered the opinion of the court. SCOTT and BARRY, JJ., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE WOMBACHER
The Illinois Department of Public Aid administers the State of Illinois' AFDC program. Federal law required the defendants to operate a Work Incentive Program (WIN program) for AFDC recipients. (See 42 U.S.C. § 630 et seq. (1982).) With the enactment of the Federal Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1981 , States were authorized to operate a work incentive demonstration program as an alternative to the WIN program. (See 42 U.S.C. § 645(a) (1982).) On July 1, 1982, the IDPA began to operate a WDP as a replacement to the WIN program.
The provisions of the WDP were filed with the Illinois Secretary of State on February 28, 1983. The final rules of the program were published in the Illinois Register on March 11, 1983. The effective date of the rules was stated to be February 28, 1983. The proposed rules had previously been published in the register on September 24, 1982. The filing and publication of the rules was made pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 127, par. 1001 et seq.).
Eight months preceding the effective date of the final WDP rules, the IDPA, on July 1, 1982, began sanctioning AFDC participants for
Plaintiffs in this action appealed the sanctions, but subsequent administrative decisions upheld their imposition. Certain class members and intervenors in this action never sought an administrative hearing regarding their sanctions.
The instant action was commenced in the circuit court on October 19, 1984, on behalf of all recipients sanctioned between July 1, 1982, and February 28, 1983. The complaint sought a declaration that the WDP rules were invalid under the APA. It further sought an order of mandamus to compel the IDPA to remit to all class members the AFDC benefits that had been reduced or terminated.
The trial court granted the plaintiffs declaratory relief. The court found that the IDPA had violated the APA and thus determined that the sanction decisions were void and subject to collateral attack. Under the APA, prior published notice was required regarding the adoption of the WDP rules. Upon a motion for rehearing, the class was certified and declaratory relief was extended to the class. The trial court ordered the defendant to redetermine the plaintiffs' and class members' eligibility for AFDC benefits and remit the benefits which had been reduced or terminated. Attorney fees were granted to the plaintiffs' counsel.
The IDPA appealed the trial court's injunctive relief and award of attorney fees. The IDPA asserts that the plaintiffs could only obtain judicial review of the administrative decisions by complying with the Administrative Review Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 3-101 et seq.). The IDPA further asserts that the plaintiffs' claims are barred by the statutorily imposed 35-day time limit. The agency alternatively argues that the doctrine of res judicata precluded the circuit court's relief. The IDPA also challenges the award of attorney fees.
The 35-day limit within which a complaint in an action seeking review of a final administrative decision must be filed is a jurisdictional requirement. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, pars. 3-102, 3-103; see also People ex rel. Olin Corp. v. Department of Labor (1981), 95 Ill. App. 3d 1108, 420 N.E.2d 1043.) Failure to adhere to the time limitations is a complete bar to recovery. (Owens Illinois, Inc. v. Bowling (1981), 99 Ill. App. 3d 1117, 429 N.E.2d 172.) Specifically, the failure of a public assistance recipient to appeal a final ...