APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY. HONORABLE ALBERT GREEN, JUDGE PRESIDING.
The Honorable Justice McNAMARA delivered the opinion of the court: Egan, P.j., and Rakowski, J., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mcnamara
JUSTICE McNAMARA delivered the opinion of the court:
In July 1993, plaintiff, Mazurek Pharmacy, filed a complaint in the circuit court of Cook County seeking judicial review of a decision of defendant, the Illinois Department of Public Aid (Department), to terminate its eligibility to participate as a provider in the Illinois medical assistance program. Plaintiff named the Department as the sole defendant in the action. The summons was mailed to the Department, in care of the Acting Director at the Department's Springfield, Illinois, address. The Department moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to name the Department's Acting Director, Robert W. Wright, as a defendant in the action. The trial court ruled that the Acting Director was a necessary party who should have been named as a defendant in the complaint. Relying on our supreme court's decision in Lockett v. Chicago Police Board (1990), 133 Ill. 2d 349, 549 N.E.2d 1266, 140 Ill. Dec. 394, the court held that plaintiff could not amend its complaint to add the Acting Director as a party, and thus granted the Department's motion to dismiss. It is from this order that plaintiff now appeals.
The record reveals the following relevant facts. After conducting an extensive audit of plaintiff's business records, the Department filed a statement of grounds charging plaintiff with failure to keep original prescriptions for drug items which plaintiff claimed it had dispensed to participants of the medical assistance program. As a result of its audit findings, the Department sought to terminate plaintiff's eligibility to participate as a provider in the program and to recover money which it had overpaid to plaintiff. A hearing was conducted before an administrative law judge (ALJ), who recommended that plaintiff's eligibility to participate in the program be terminated and that it be ordered to repay the Department $104,353. The ALJ's recommendations were submitted to the Acting Director, who adopted the ALJ's findings of fact, conclusions and recommendations. The Acting Director notified plaintiff of this decision in a letter which plaintiff received on July 19, 1993. The Acting Director was in no manner involved in the filing of the statement of grounds against plaintiff and was not a participant in the administrative proceedings conducted before the ALJ.
The procedural requirements for judicial review of an administrative decision are governed by the Administrative Review Law (735 ILCS 5/3-101 et seq. (West 1992)). In Lockett, our supreme court noted that, "since the Administrative Review Law is a departure from common law, the procedures it establishes must be strictly adhered to in order to justify its application." ( Lockett, 133 Ill. 2d at 353, 549 N.E.2d at 1267.) Section 3-103 of the Administrative Review Law dictates that an action for administrative review "shall be commenced by the filing of a complaint and the issuance of summons within 35 days from the date that a copy of the decision sought to be reviewed was served upon the party affected thereby." (735 ILCS 5/3-103 (West 1992).) Summons must be issued on the administrative agency itself and on all defendants. 735 ILCS 5/3-105 (West 1992).
In relevant part, section 3-107 of the Administrative Review Law states:
"(a) Except as provided in subsection (b), in any action to review any final decision of an administrative agency, the administrative agency and all persons, other than the plaintiff, who were parties of record to the proceedings before the administrative agency shall be made defendants." 735 ILCS 5/3-107 (West 1992).
Section 3-101 of the Administrative Review Law defines "administrative agency" as:
" person, body of persons, group, officer, board, bureau, commission or department (other than a court or judge) of the State, or of any political subdivision thereof or municipal corporation therein, having power under law to make administrative decisions." 735 ILCS 5/3-101 (West 1992).
Section 3-101 defines "administrative decision" as:
"Any decision, order or determination of any administrative agency rendered in a particular case, which affects the legal rights, duties or privileges of parties and which terminates the proceedings before the administrative agency." 735 ILCS 5/3-101 (West 1992).
The Department contends that its Acting Director was the "administrative agency" in this case, since it was he who issued the final administrative decision, and that the Department itself was merely a party of record to the administrative proceedings. Thus, the Department argues, in addition to it being named as a defendant in plaintiff's complaint, the Acting Director was also required to be named. Plaintiff argues, on the other hand, that it was the Department which issued the final administrative decision and the Acting Director was merely acting as agent for the Department in adopting the ALJ's findings of fact, conclusions and recommendations and notifying him of such in his July 1993 letter. Accordingly, plaintiff argues, the Acting Director was not required to be named as a defendant in the complaint.
In Pontiac Lodge No. 294 v. Department of Revenue (1993), 243 Ill. App. 3d 186, 611 N.E.2d 62, 183 Ill. Dec. 209, the court was confronted with an issue similar to that which we face here. There, the defendant, Illinois Department of Revenue, argued that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to review its denial of a request by plaintiff, Pontiac Lodge No. 294, for a property tax exemption. The Department of Revenue contended that the trial court was without jurisdiction to review its decision because the plaintiff failed to name the Director of the Department as a defendant ...