APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY. THE HONORABLE ARTHUR L. DUNNE, JUDGE PRESIDING.
Petition for Rehearing Denied June 14, 1994,
Cousins, Jr., Murray, McNULTY
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cousins
JUSTICE COUSINS, JR. delivered the opinion of the court:
Plaintiff, Hyde Park Medical Laboratory, appeals from the circuit court's order dismissing its complaint against the court of claims, the Department of Public Aid, and Philip Bradley in his official capacity as director of the Department of Public Aid for lack of jurisdiction. The following issues are raised on appeal: (1) whether the circuit court properly held that it was without jurisdiction to entertain an action for declaratory judgment; (2) whether the circuit court abused its discretion in refusing to issue a writ of mandamus; and (3) whether the circuit court abused its discretion in refusing to grant a writ of certiorari.
Plaintiff rendered services to the Department of Public Aid (Department) from December 31, 1969 through May 31, 1971. In July of 1971, the Department notified plaintiff that its unpaid invoices were being held pending investigation. Thereafter, the Department refused to pay the invoices. In 1972, plaintiff instituted an action in the court of claims against the State of Illinois seeking $340,681.
The action was delayed due to removal (and reinstatement) of plaintiff's original counsel, actions brought in the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, recusal of Court of Claims Commissioners on allegations of bias, failure of defendants to produce documents, and plaintiff's motions for general continuance status. The case was on general continuance status from March of 1973 until October of 1975, from January of 1977 until June of 1978 and from May of 1979 until January of 1983.
The court of claims conducted a series of hearings in 1976 before a commissioner. No further hearings were held until 1987. On May 11, 1987, the commissioner was instructed to submit his report and on August 22, 1988, the court of claims issued a decision.
In its decision, the court of claims noted that the transcripts of proceedings revealed little evidence, and much argument, bickering and allegations of wrongdoing between the parties. Although the State asserted during the hearings that the claim should have been barred because of fraud on the part of plaintiff, the court of claims found this allegation to be wholly unsupported by the record. Instead, the court of claims found that the record demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that plaintiff was entitled to $340,681.
Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion for rehearing, reconsideration and modification seeking an award of pre-award interest and attorneys fees. The court of claims denied the motion.
On March 28, 1989, plaintiff filed a second complaint in the court of claims which alleged a separate and distinct claim for the interest due and owing pursuant to statute, citing the Prompt Payment Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 127, par. 132.401, et seq. now codified as amended at 30 ILCS 540/1 et seq. (West 1992)), as well as Article I, sections 2, 12, and/or 15 of the Constitution of the State of Illinois and the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. On December 7, 1990, the court of claims issued an opinion dismissing ...