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08/22/88 St. Mary of Nazareth v. John Kuczaj

August 22, 1988

ST. MARY OF NAZARETH HOSPITAL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

JOHN KUCZAJ, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE (LILLIAN KUCZAJ, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT)



Before considering the merits of the instant appeal, we consider John Kuczaj's argument that this court lacks jurisdiction to hear this appeal as Lillian does not have standing to appeal from the summary judgment entered in his favor. Citing Gordon v. Gordon (1955), 6 Ill. 2d 572, 574, 129 N.E.2d 706, which held that the right to appeal exists only in favor of a party whose rights have been prejudiced by a judgment or decree appealed from, he argues that the judgment had an adverse effect only on the hospital and that, absent a pending counterclaim, Lillian had no right to appeal. We disagree.

APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FIRST DIVISION

528 N.E.2d 290, 174 Ill. App. 3d 268, 123 Ill. Dec. 745 1988.IL.1288

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

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the court. CAMPBELL, P.J., and BUCKLEY, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE O'CONNOR

Plaintiff St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital Center (the hospital) brought an action for hospital expenses in the amount of $4,979.80 against co-defendants Lillian and John Kuczaj jointly under the family expense statute (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 40, par. 1015). Defendant John Kuczaj's motion for summary judgment was granted, and Lillian appealed from the order granting summary judgment in favor of her former husband. Plaintiff hospital is not a party to this appeal. We reverse.

Co-defendants John and Lillian Kuczaj were married prior to August 23, 1982, at which time Lillian moved out of the family home. On August 29, 1982, Lillian filed a petition for dissolution of marriage on the basis of irreconcilable difference. Judgment in the dissolution action was granted on June 3, 1985.

The judgment for dissolution of marriage provided for a bifurcated hearing on issues of property, maintenance and attorney fees. Paragraph 3 of the judgment provided that John Kuczaj was to maintain medical and hospital insurance covering Lillian Kuczaj until the final order was entered.

Prior to the entry of the final order and while the parties were living separately, Lillian Kuczaj was hospitalized at St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital Center on several occasions between September 18, 1984, and January 10, 1985. Without informing Lillian, John had changed hospital insurance companies. The new insurance carrier subsequently refused to pay the bill submitted by the hospital on the basis that it did not provide coverage for pre-existing conditions.

A final order disposing of property and other pending matters was entered on July 18, 1986. The order provided that John Kuczaj was to pay the sum of $294 to St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital Center for certain medical bills that had been presented during the hearings in the trial court. At the time the instant action was initiated, that sum had not been paid as Lillian had appealed from the final order of distribution. *fn1

On July 28, 1986, 10 days after the final order in the dissolution proceeding was entered, the hospital filed this action under the family expense statute (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 40, par. 1015) seeking judgment in the amount of $4,979.80 against both John and Lillian Kuczaj for the charges incurred between September 18, 1984, and January 10, 1985. John Kuczaj filed a motion for summary judgment which was granted on July 7, 1987, and Lillian appealed from the judgment in John's favor.

Any party to the case may seek appellate review from a final judgment which is adverse to his interests, and whether the party was actually aggrieved does not determine his right to appeal. (Trompeter Construction Co. v. First Federal Savings & Loan Association (1978), 62 Ill. App. 3d 173, 175-76, 379 N.E.2d 298, appeal denied (1978), 71 Ill. 2d 622.) Even nonparties have standing to appeal provided they have a direct, immediate and substantial interest in the subject matter of the litigation which would be prejudiced by the judgment or benefit by its reversal. See, e.g., In re Estate of Dawson (1988), 168 Ill. App. 3d 391, 396, 522 N.E.2d 770.

Although the general rule in Illinois is that the only party who may appeal from a judgment in favor of a co-defendant is the plaintiff (Tisoncik v. Szczepankiewicz (1983), 113 Ill. App. 3d 240, 244, 466 N.E.2d 1271; Montgomery v. Terminal R.R. Association (1979), 73 Ill. App. 3d 650, 655, 392 N.E.2d 77), the rule is subject to the limitation that it applies only in cases where the rights of the appellant are not affected by the error. (See, e.g., Newark Electronics Corp. v. City of Chicago (1970), 130 Ill. App. 2d 1021, 1024-27, 264 N.E.2d 868; Chas. Ind Co. v. Cecil B. Wood, Inc. (1965), 56 Ill. App. 2d 30, 44, 205 N.E.2d 786, appeal denied (1965), 32 Ill. 2d 625.) In Chas. Ind Co., the court held that the appellant had a right to appeal from a judgment in favor of a co-defendant based on its finding that the appellant had actively sought to determine the liability of its co-defendant in the original action and that the jury verdict finding the co-defendant not guilty of negligence would act as a bar to appellant's action for indemnity. (Chas. Ind Co., 56 Ill. App. 2d at 39.) In the instant case, the appellant ...


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