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Kingbrook, Inc. v. Pupurs

October 18, 2002

KINGBROOK, INC., APPELLANT,
v.
JOHN A. PUPURS ET AL., APPELLEES.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Freeman

Docket No. 92162-Agenda 11-May 2002.

The subject of this appeal is appellate jurisdiction. The circuit court of Boone County entered summary judgment against plaintiff Kingbrook, Inc. (Kingbrook), and denied Kingbrook's motion to reconsider. Kingbrook appealed, but the appellate court found that Kingbrook's motion to reconsider was ineffective to toll the time for filing a notice of appeal. Accordingly, the appellate court found the notice of appeal to be untimely and dismissed Kingbrook's appeal. The question before us is: In a non-jury case, what degree of detail must be included in a motion to reconsider for such a motion to qualify as a "post-judgment motion" within the meaning of the Code of Civil Procedure (see 735 ILCS 5/2-1203 (West 1998)) and the rules of this court (see 155 Ill. 2d R. 301(a)), such that the motion will toll the time for filing a notice of appeal until its disposition?

BACKGROUND

Kingbrook sued John A. Pupurs and Rockford Manufacturing, Inc. (Rockford), based on a theory of unjust enrichment, and sued R&D Thiel, Inc. (Thiel), for unjust enrichment and breach of contract. Although the issues before this court are solely procedural, we briefly note that according to the allegations of the complaint, Kingbrook is a commercial real estate agent which showed a specific property to Thiel. Thiel placed multiple offers on the property, but never completed a purchase from the original seller. Instead, the property was sold to Rockford, a corporation of which Pupurs is the sole shareholder. Rockford then sold the property to Thiel for $500,000 more than Rockford had paid the original seller. Kingbrook, characterizing Rockford's profit as a commission, sued Rockford, Pupurs and Thiel on the above-noted theories.

Rockford, Pupurs and Thiel (collectively, defendants) moved to dismiss Kingbrook's complaint for failure to state a claim, and the circuit court granted that motion. However, this judgment was reversed on appeal and the cause was remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings. Kingbrook, Inc. v. Pupurs, Nos. 2-98-1120, 2-98-0550 cons. (2001) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).

It is at this time that the proceedings pertinent to this appeal began. On remand, defendants moved for summary judgment. The circuit court entered summary judgment in favor of defendants on January 21, 2000. On February 17, 2000, Kingbrook filed a document titled "Motion For Reconsideration." The body of that document read, in its entirety, as follows:

"N[ow comes] the plaintiff, K[ingbrook, Inc.], an Illinois corporation, by and through its attorneys, B[arrick], S[witzer], L[ong], B[alsey] & V[anavera], and hereby moves the Court to reconsider its decision granting severing [sic] judgment in favor of the Defendants."

No additional materials in support of or opposition to the motion were filed by any party or requested by the circuit court. Kingbrook noticed up the motion within the time allowed by the circuit court rules, and the circuit court denied the motion on April 28, 2000.

On May 30, 2000, Kingbrook filed a notice of appeal. In the appellate court, defendants moved to dismiss the appeal for want of jurisdiction, arguing that Kingbrook's notice of appeal was late because the motion to reconsider was not a proper post-judgment motion. The appellate court agreed with defendants and dismissed the appeal. No. 2-00-0611 (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23). We granted Kingbrook leave to appeal. 155 Ill. 2d R. 315(a).

ANALYSIS

Before this court there is but one central issue. The parties agree that the filing of a timely notice of appeal is mandatory and jurisdictional. R.W. Dunteman Co. v. C/G Enterprises, Inc., 181 Ill. 2d 153, 159 (1998). The parties also agree that the notice of appeal was timely if and only if Kingbrook's motion to reconsider tolled the 30-day filing period. *fn1 The sole question is whether Kingbrook's motion did toll the filing period. The parties' arguments may be briefly summarized as follows. Kingbrook contends that neither the Code of Civil Procedure nor the rules of this court demand any specificity in post-judgment motions in cases decided without a jury, whereas the Code does explicitly require specificity in post-judgment motions in cases decided by a jury. Thus, Kingbrook argues, the motion filed in this case was sufficient because it was timely filed, was in proper form, and requested the appropriate type of relief. Defendants respond that a bare motion with no specifics, such as the motion in this case, cannot serve the purpose of a proper post-judgment motion and is nothing more than a subterfuge to delay the time for filing the notice of appeal. Such chicanery, defendants argue, should not be countenanced. Some detail, some argument, they contend, must be presented for a post-judgment motion to toll the time for filing the notice of appeal.

The pertinent portions of the Code and our rules read as follows. Our Rule 303(a)(1) governs when a notice of appeal must be filed in civil cases. It states that

"Except as provided in paragraph (b) below, the notice of appeal must be filed with the clerk of the circuit court within 30 days after the entry of the final judgment appealed from, or, if a timely post-trial motion directed against the judgment is filed, whether in a jury or a non-jury case, within 30 days after the entry of the ...


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