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11/17/88 Carle Clinic Association, v. Joseph W. Seten

November 17, 1988

CARLE CLINIC ASSOCIATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

JOSEPH W. SETEN, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE

"[IT] IS A DRASTIC MEANS OF DISPOSING OF LITIGATION AND THEREFORE SHOULD BE ALLOWED ONLY WHEN THE RIGHT OF THE MOVING PARTY IS CLEAR AND FREE FROM DOUBT." PURTILL

v.

HESS (1986), 111 ILL. 2D 229, 240, 489 N.E.2D 867, 871.



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT

531 N.E.2d 127, 176 Ill. App. 3d 590, 125 Ill. Dec. 948 1988.IL.1670

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon. Harry E. Clem, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE McCULLOUGH delivered the opinion of the court. KNECHT, J., concurs. JUSTICE LUND, specially Concurring.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCCULLOUGH

Plaintiff Carle Clinic Association appeals the circuit court's entry of summary judgment against it, contending that genuine issues of material fact remain and therefore a trial on the merits is required. We agree.

Plaintiff filed this action against the defendant, Joseph W. Seten (Joseph), and Linda L. Seten (Linda) on February 13, 1987, seeking to collect payment for medical services rendered to Joseph and their children from February 1983 through December 1986. Joseph and Linda were divorced in 1976 and custody of their children was transferred to Linda in September 1983, one month prior to the commencement of the medical services involved in this action. The original complaint alleged that the plaintiff had rendered services to Joseph and his two children, ages 19 and 16 at the time this suit commenced, at Joseph and Linda's special request. Plaintiff further alleged that said services constituted "family expenses" as set forth in section 15 of "An Act to revise the law in relation to husband and wife" (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 40, par. 1015). This appeal does not concern the liability of Joseph for services rendered to him.

On October 7, 1987, Joseph filed a motion for summary judgment. In support of this motion, Joseph argued that since custody of the children was given to Linda in September 1983, and Joseph did not request or authorize the plaintiff to render medical services to himself, his children, or his ex-wife or promise to pay the plaintiff for any such services, he was not liable to the plaintiff for the balance claimed due.

In response to this motion, plaintiff filed an affidavit, disputing Joseph's assertions that he did not authorize the medical treatment rendered. Plaintiff presented various documents relating to the divorce action between Joseph and Linda in further support of its contention that Joseph did in fact know of, and authorize, the treatment by the plaintiff of his children. Further, plaintiff stated that such disputed facts required that the court deny Joseph's motion.

Pursuant to an agreement between the parties, the court did not rule on this summary judgment motion. On October 22, 1987, with leave of the court, plaintiff filed an amended complaint. Plaintiff's amended complaint sought recovery from Joseph alone and omitted references to section 15 of the Act. Joseph filed another summary judgment motion on December 8, 1987, stating that all services rendered to his children were at the request of Linda. Joseph's supporting affidavit reiterated his previous assertions. Prior to ruling on the motion, a second-amended complaint was filed on January 15, 1988, for the purpose of updating the amount due the plaintiff for services rendered to Joseph's children.

On March 25, 1988, the court entered summary judgment for Joseph against the plaintiff as to the services provided. Regarding the services rendered to his children, the court found that Joseph's assertions remained uncontradicted. The court also observed that under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (Marriage Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 40, par. 101 et seq.), no one other than the parties to a divorce action may petition the court to enforce the child support obligations of one party. Since the evidence established that plaintiff was seeking to enforce Joseph's child support obligations, Joseph was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

The plaintiff appeals the court's entry of judgment for Joseph as to the services rendered to his children. Plaintiff urges that the basis of its suit is Joseph's express and implied promise to pay plaintiff's charges for services and does not concern Joseph's child support obligations. Plaintiff acknowledges that only parties to a divorce action may seek relief under the Marriage Act. Plaintiff contends that the evidence established that Joseph did in fact know of the medical services provided and that Joseph's actions over the three-year period amount to a ratification of a promise from Joseph to the plaintiff to pay for plaintiff's services. Joseph on appeal restates the arguments he made in the circuit court. Since his assertions remained uncontradicted, he contends summary judgment was proper.

Section 2-1005(c) of the Civil Practice Law (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 110, par. 2-1005(c)) provides that summary judgment shall be granted "if the pleadings, depositions, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." As noted by the supreme court:

In determining the existence of a genuine issue of material fact, courts must construe any evidence in support of the motion strongly against the movant and liberally in favor of the opponent. (Purtill, 111 Ill. 2d at 240, 489 N.E.2d at 871; Seefeldt v. Millikin National Bank (1987), 154 Ill. App. 3d 715, 718, 506 N.E.2d 1052, 1055.) Issues of material fact raised in a complaint must be supported by evidentiary facts, otherwise summary judgment for a defendant is appropriate. (Harrington v. Chicago Sun-Times (1986), 150 Ill. App. 3d 797, 502 N.E.2d 332.) Likewise, where a ...


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