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Fedorev v. Doherty

June 04, 1999


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Boone County. No. 97--MR--23 Honorable Gerald F. Grubb, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Geiger

The plaintiff, Katherine Fedorev, appeals the June 12, 1998, order of the circuit court of Boone County denying her motion to reconsider the dismissal of her complaint for administrative review. The trial court dismissed the complaint on the basis that the plaintiff failed to name the Board of Review of the Illinois Department of Employment Security as a defendant. On appeal, the plaintiff argues that, by naming the director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) as a defendant, her complaint should be deemed to have included the Board of Review as a defendant pursuant to section 3--107(a) of the Administrative Review Law (Review Law). 735 ILCS 5/3--107(a) (West 1996). We affirm the trial court's dismissal.

The following facts are taken from the record. From August 4, 1986, to February 10, 1997, the plaintiff worked for defendant W.A. Whitney Company (Whitney) as a secretary. In November 1995, the plaintiff filed a workers' compensation claim against Whitney, alleging that she had developed bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. Between December 30, 1996, and February 10, 1997, the plaintiff engaged in settlement negotiations regarding her claim.

On February 10, 1997, Whitney terminated the plaintiff's employment because she had allegedly used confidential information regarding another employee's worker's compensation settlement to procure a larger settlement for herself. The plaintiff subsequently applied for unemployment insurance benefits. However, Whitney filed a complaint with the IDES, arguing that the plaintiff was ineligible to receive such benefits as she had been terminated for misconduct.

On March 8, 1997, following a hearing, a representative of the IDES determined that the plaintiff was disqualified from receiving unemployment compensation benefits as she had been terminated for committing a breach of confidentiality. On April 16, 1997, a referee from the appellate division of the IDES affirmed the March 8, 1997, determination. On May 19, 1997, the plaintiff filed an appeal with the Board of Review (the Board).

On July 16, 1997, the Board affirmed the referee's decision, finding the plaintiff ineligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits. On August 20, 1997, the plaintiff filed a complaint for administrative review of the Board's determination. The plaintiff named Whitney and IDES director Lynn Q. Doherty as defendants.

On September 25, 1997, defendant Doherty filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. On January 29, 1998, following a hearing, the trial court granted Doherty's motion and dismissed the complaint with prejudice. The trial court explained its ruling as follows:

"The Court finds that the Director of the [IDES] does not head, direct, supervise nor [sic] control the Board of Review of the [IDES]. ***

Therefore, naming the Director of the [IDES], is deemed to include only the [IDES] and not the Board of Review of the [IDES]."

The plaintiff subsequently filed a motion for reconsideration and a motion for leave to file an amended complaint. On June 12, 1998, following oral argument, the trial court denied both motions. On July 10, 1998, the plaintiff filed a timely notice of appeal.

The issue before us is whether the plaintiff's failure to name and serve the Board of Review in her complaint deprived the trial court of subject matter jurisdiction. The plaintiff contends that the trial court erred in dismissing her complaint. She notes that section 3--107(a) of the Review Law (735 ILCS 5/3--107(a) (West 1996)) provides that naming the director of the administrative agency that issued the final decision will be deemed to include the administrative agency that the named defendant directs or heads. She further notes that section 1100 of the Insurance Act (820 ILCS 405/1100 (West 1996)) provides as follows:

"Any decision of the Board of Review *** shall be reviewable only under and in accordance with the provisions of the [Review Law]. *** The Director shall be deemed to have been a party to any administrative proceeding before the Board of Review and shall be represented by the Attorney General in any judicial action involving any such decision." Based upon the language of these statutes, the plaintiff argues that the Board was included as a defendant in her complaint, as she named the IDES director as a defendant.

The defendants contend that the trial court properly dismissed the plaintiff's complaint, as Doherty was neither the head nor the director of the Board. Doherty notes that the following individuals were members of the Board when it issued its July 16, 1997, determination: Rolland Lewis, John Cashman, Stanley Mucha, and Jon Walker. On that date, Lewis served as the chairman of the Board. Doherty contends that, if the plaintiff had named Lewis as a defendant, only then would the Board have been deemed to be included as a defendant under the Review Law. In support of their contention, the defendants cite section 44a of the Civil Administrative Code of Illinois (the Code) (20 ILCS 1005/44a (West 1996)). Section 44a provides in pertinent part:

"The Board of Review in the [IDES] shall exercise all powers and be subject to all duties conferred or imposed upon said Board by the provisions of the Unemployment Compensation Act ***, without any direction, supervision, or control by the Director of Employment Security." (Emphasis added.) 20 ILCS 1005/44a (West 1996). The defendants argue that, because Doherty is the director of an administrative entity that is separate from ...

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