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Department of Central Management Services v. American Federation of State

April 16, 1998

THE DEPARTMENT OF CENTRAL MANAGEMENT SERVICES ET AL., APPELLANTS, V. AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE, COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES, APPELLEE.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Harrison

Agenda 7

January 1998.

delivered the opinion of the court:

This appeal arose from an order of the circuit court of Morgan County dismissing as untimely a petition to vacate an arbitration award entered pursuant to a collective-bargaining agreement governed by the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (5 ILCS 315/1 et seq. (West 1994)). The order was affirmed by the appellate court (284 Ill. App. 3d 963), and we granted leave to appeal (166 Ill. 2d R. 315). After reviewing the record and the applicable law, we have determined that the appellate court's judgment must be vacated and the appeal dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

The record before us shows that Bill McGownd was employed by the Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities (the Department) as a mental health technician II. McGownd's employment was subject to a collective-bargaining agreement governed by the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act. Pursuant to section 8 of that statute (5 ILCS 315/8 (West 1994)), the grievance and arbitration provisions of the collective-bargaining agreement were subject to the Illinois Uniform Arbitration Act (710 ILCS 5/1 et seq. (West 1994)).

In 1994 the Department discharged McGownd. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) filed a grievance on his behalf. The matter proceeded to arbitration in accordance with the provisions of the Uniform Arbitration Act. An arbitrator sustained the grievance based on the Department's failure to abide by the "prompt discipline" provisions of the parties' collective-bargaining agreement. The arbitrator's award ordered that McGownd be reinstated and made whole for his losses.

The award was issued on April 3, 1995, and was received by the Department on April 6. On July 6, 91 days later, the Department and the Department of Central Management Services (hereinafter referred to collectively as defendants) filed an application in the circuit court of Morgan County asking that the award be vacated. The application was predicated on sections 12 and 13 of the Uniform Arbitration Act (710 ILCS 5/12, 13 (West 1994)).

Section 12(b) of the Uniform Arbitration Act (710 ILCS 5/12(b) (West 1994)) provides that an application to vacate an award "shall be made within 90 days after delivery of a copy of the award to the applicant," except under circumstances not present here. Because the application in this case was not filed until the 91st day following its receipt, AFSCME filed a motion under section 2-619 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 1994)) seeking dismissal of that application on the grounds that it was untimely. AFSCME further requested that the arbitrator's award be confirmed.

The circuit court denied the application to vacate, agreeing with AFSCME that the application had not been filed within the time limited by law. Defendants appealed from that order, invoking the first clause of section 12(e) of the Uniform Arbitration Act (710 ILCS 5/12(e) (West 1994)), which states:

"Nothing in this Section or any other Section of this Act shall apply to the vacating, modifying, or correcting of any award entered as a result of an arbitration agreement which is a part of or pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement ***."

According to defendants, this provision removed the Department's application to vacate from the 90-day deadline established by section 12(b). They asserted that their application was governed instead by section 13-205 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/13-205 (West 1994)), which provides, in part, that "actions *** on awards of arbitration *** shall be commenced within 5 years next after the cause of action accrued."

The appellate court rejected defendants' argument. It held that the 90-day application period set forth in section 12(b) of the Uniform Arbitration Act was controlling under section 8 of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (5 ILCS 315/8 (West 1994)), that section 8 superseded the first clause of section 12(e) of the Uniform Arbitration Act, and that section 13-205 of the Code of Civil Procedure was inapplicable by its terms and as a matter of public policy. Accordingly, the appellate court affirmed the order of the circuit court dismissing as untimely defendants' application to vacate the arbitration award. 284 Ill. App. 3d at 967-70.

The appellate court's decision conflicted with Hyatte v. Quinn, 239 Ill. App. 3d 893 (1993), an appellate court opinion that relied upon authority predating enactment of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act. We granted defendants' petition for leave to appeal in order to resolve this conflict and to settle the question of whether applications to vacate arbitration awards entered pursuant to collective-bargaining agreements governed by the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act are subject to the 90-day period set forth in section 12(b) of the Uniform Arbitration Act.

After the issues were brief and argued, this court discovered a jurisdictional defect that is fatal to appellate review of the circuit court's order. The law is well established that unless specifically authorized by the rules of this court, the appellate court has no jurisdiction to review judgments, orders or decrees which are not final. Almgren v. Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, 162 Ill. 2d 205, 210 (1994). Where the appellate court has considered the merits of a case when it had no jurisdiction to do so, we must vacate that court's judgment and dismiss the appeal. This is so even though the jurisdictional defect has not been raised by the ...


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