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02/09/89 Phineas L. Hill, v. James Edgar

February 9, 1989

PHINEAS L. HILL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

JAMES EDGAR, SECRETARY OF STATE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, SECOND DISTRICT

534 N.E.2d 666, 179 Ill. App. 3d 550, 128 Ill. Dec. 484 1989.IL.165

Appeal from the Circuit Court of De Kalb County; the Hon. Richard D. Larson, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE McLAREN delivered the opinion of the court. WOODWARD and LINDBERG, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCLAREN

Plaintiff, Phineas L. Hill, brought this action pursuant to the Administrative Review Law (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 110, par. 3-101 et seq.) to review a decision of defendant, Illinois Secretary of State (Secretary), under the Illinois safety responsibility law (the Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 95 1/2, par. 7-100 et seq.). Defendant found that there existed a reasonable possibility of a civil judgment being entered against plaintiff as the result of a car accident, and thus defendant suspended plaintiff's driving privileges absent the filing of a $1,900 bond. The circuit court reversed defendant's decision as against the manifest weight of the evidence. Defendant appeals the circuit court's reversal of defendant's order. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

Plaintiff was the uninsured driver of a car of an uninsured owner. He was involved in a car accident in Winnebago County, Illinois. Edward Defendl was the owner and operator of the other car involved in the accident. Defendl had two passengers in the car with him at the time of the accident. Both plaintiff and Defendl filed accident reports with the Department of Transportation (Department) following the accident. Defendl's report indicates that the accident resulted in between $500 and $1,500 damage to his car. His report also indicates that he sustained neck and back injuries in the accident; that passenger Ronald Francis sustained head, neck, back, and leg injuries; and that passenger Tina Lancaster sustained head and neck injuries. Plaintiff's report indicates that there was no damage to his car.

Based on the accident reports, and pursuant to its responsibility under the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 95 1/2, par. 7-201.3), the Department prepared a certificate of estimated property damage and bodily injury resulting from the accident. The property damage estimate was $1,000; the bodily injury estimate was $900. The Department notified plaintiff that his failure to provide evidence of liability insurance or other means to pay for damages resulting from the accident compelled the Department to certify his name as an uninsured motorist to the Secretary for possible suspension of his driving privileges.

On May 11, 1987, the Secretary issued a notice of suspension. The notice states that a review of the accident file resulted in a preliminary finding that there was a reasonable possibility of a civil judgment in excess of $250 being entered against plaintiff. Plaintiff was required to deposit as security a surety bond, cashier's check, bank draft, or money order in the amount of $1,900 to prevent suspension of his driver's license. Plaintiff filed a written request for an administrative hearing to contest the preliminary finding.

An administrative hearing was held on October 8, 1987. Although all interested parties (including Defendl and his two passengers) were given notice, only plaintiff appeared at the hearing. The Secretary entered several exhibits into evidence: the Department's certificate of estimated property damage and bodily injury; plaintiff's notice of suspension; plaintiff's request for an administrative hearing; notice of the hearing; and both accident reports.

At the hearing, plaintiff testified that there had been a collision wherein the front of his car collided with the rear of Defendl's car. Plaintiff characterized the impact as "very light." He stated that neither car was damaged and that no one complained of injuries after the accident. The police were not called to the scene. Sometime after the accident, Defendl telephoned plaintiff and gave him an estimate of $350 property damage. Plaintiff met personally with Defendl, and, although he believed that he had not caused any damage, plaintiff made a $100 payment to Defendl. Defendl told him that a $250 balance was still due. Defendl later sent an estimate of damage in the amount of $350 to plaintiff. Plaintiff did not produce any receipts or copies of the estimate at the hearing.

The Secretary found that, based on the evidence and testimony and exhibits, there was a reasonable possibility of a civil judgment being rendered against plaintiff as a result of the accident. Because plaintiff had failed to post security, a license suspension order was entered against plaintiff.

Plaintiff filed a complaint for administrative review in the circuit court. The circuit court reversed the administrative decision, finding that defendant had violated section 1001.250(d) of the regulations on Safety ...


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