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08/04/94 WILMA FAY MORRIS v. BANTERRA BANK HAMILTON

August 4, 1994

WILMA FAY MORRIS, AS INDEPENDENT EX'R OF THE ESTATE OF DONALD J. MORRIS, ET AL., APPELLEES,
v.
BANTERRA BANK OF HAMILTON COUNTY ET AL., APPELLANTS.



Heiple, Bilandic

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Heiple

JUSTICE HEIPLE delivered the opinion of the court:

The substantive merits of this case are wholly immaterial to the narrow procedural issue which it presents. Plaintiffs, the appellees herein, filed a section 2-615 motion for judgment on the pleadings (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 110, par. 2-615). The trial court did not agree. Apparently frustrated by the court's ruling and unwilling to go forward with its proofs, plaintiffs alternatively and successfully moved that judgment be entered for the defendants. The only rationale for this procedure was the plaintiffs' apparent hope that the matter could then be taken up on appeal.

On appeal, the appellate court found that the circuit court correctly denied the plaintiffs' motion for judgment on the pleadings in its behalf. The appellate court held, however, that the trial court erred in granting the alternative motion and entering judgment in favor of defendants, finding that "it was not the intention of the plaintiffs to terminate the litigation when they made their alternative motion; that plaintiffs intended to circumvent the trial court's denial of their section 2-615 motion and seek appellate review of that denial." The appellate court went on to find that the judgment on the pleadings on behalf of defendants was premature and ordered the cause remanded to the circuit court (No. 5-92-0452 (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23)).

It is well settled in this State that "a party cannot claim error when it induced the trial Judge's mistake." ( J.L. Simmons Co., Inc. ex rel. Hartford Insurance Group v. Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. (1985), 108 Ill. 2d 106, 90 Ill. Dec. 955, 483 N.E.2d 273.) In this case, plaintiffs induced the circuit court to enter a judgment in favor of defendants. While this judgment may arguably have been premature and thus improper, the party inducing the error must bear its consequences.

Plaintiffs contend that they do not complain of an error by the trial court. They contend, in fact, that it was not error for the trial court to enter judgment in response to plaintiffs' motion. They maintain that "the judgment moved the case along by permitting an appeal. There was nothing further to be done in the trial court." We disagree.

The only appealable order in this case was the judgment in favor of defendants. If plaintiffs' do not contend that this judgment was in error, they have nothing to appeal. The fact that plaintiffs intended to use the alternative motion only to effect an end run to gain review of an unreviewable interlocutory order is of importance only in the plaintiffs' minds. The plaintiffs' motivation, hope, or expectation for this procedural maneuver is beside the point.

We hold that a party who requests the trial court to enter a judgment in favor of the opposing party cannot later claim error and appeal that judgment. The judgment of the appellate court is accordingly reversed and the judgment of the circuit court is reinstated.

Given our Disposition of defendants' appeal, we do not reach the issues raised by plaintiffs on cross-appeal.

Appellate court reversed;

circuit court affirmed.

CHIEF JUSTICE BILANDIC, Dissenting:

The majority exalts form over substance, disregards the policy and purpose of modern civil procedure, and by means of legal prestidigitation, denies the plaintiffs the opportunity to be heard. The majority's flawed reasoning compels me to voice my Dissent.

The plaintiffs filed a complaint in the circuit court of Hamilton County against the defendant Bank and its directors, alleging the following facts. Before November 21, 1989, the plaintiffs owned 85 shares of capital stock in the Banterra Bank of Hamilton County. At that time, 3,000 capital shares were outstanding, making the plaintiffs minority shareholders with a 3% interest in the Bank. Banterra Corporation, which is not a party in ...


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