APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY. HONORABLE EDWIN M. BERMAN, JUDGE PRESIDING.
The Honorable Justice Wolfson delivered the opinion of the court: Campbell, P.j. and Braden, J., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wolfson
The Honorable Justice WOLFSON delivered the opinion of the court:
The trial judge was obviously and justifiably annoyed by the failure of the Village's attorney to appear in court in this administrative review case. There are times, however, when patience can be a virtue. This is one of those times.
We reverse the trial judge's order refusing to vacate a default judgment entered against the Village Board of Fire & Police Commissioners.
Thomas Biscan (Biscan) was a fire lieutenant employed by the Village of Melrose park. He was discharged on September 14, 1993, for failure to comply with the Village's residency requirement.
On October 5, 1993, Biscan filed a complaint with the circuit court against the Village of Melrose Park Board of Fire & Police Commissioners (Board) and Fire Chief Anthony Maggio (Chief), seeking administrative review of his discharge. He alleged, without specificity, that the Board's decision was arbitrary and capricious, based on an erroneous interpretation of the law, and against the manifest weight of the evidence. Summons was served on defendants by certified mail. *fn1
Neither the Board nor the Chief filed an appearance or answered the complaint. A copy of the administrative record was not filed within 35 days of the service of summons, as required by Supreme Court Rule 291. Biscan filed a motion for default judgment. Notice of the motion was sent to defendants.
On January 31, 1994, Biscan appeared before the trial court on his motion. Neither the Board nor the Chief was represented at this hearing. The trial court entered an order granting Biscan a default judgment against both defendants for their failure to file an appearance and answer.
On February 28, 1994, the Chief filed an appearance. On March 4, 1994, he filed a motion to vacate the order of default.
On March 11, 1994, Biscan filed a motion requesting reinstatement, back pay, interest, attorney fees, and costs. The motion was noticed for hearing on March 18, 1994. On that date Biscan and the Chief appeared before the court. The Board still had not filed an appearance and was not represented at this hearing, although the Chief indicated that someone was supposed to appear for the Board. The hearing was continued to April 14, 1994.
On March 24, 1994, the Board filed an appearance in the matter without obtaining leave of court.
On April 14, 1994, hearing was held on the Chief's motion to vacate the default, the only matter scheduled to be heard that day. No one appeared on behalf of the Board. The Chief, however, advised the court that the attorney representing the Board intended to file the administrative record within a few days ...