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Roth v. Illinois Farmers Insurance Company

December 05, 2002

BRENDA ROTH, IND. ADM'R OF THE ESTATE OF ANGELA ROTH, DECEASED, APPELLEE,
v.
ILLINOIS FARMERS INSURANCE COMPANY, APPELLANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Freeman

UNPUBLISHED

Plaintiff, Brenda Roth, acting as the administrator of the estate of her daughter, Angela, brought a declaratory judgment action in the circuit court of St. Clair County against defendant, Illinois Farmers Insurance Company. The circuit court found in plaintiff's favor, and defendant appealed. The appellate court affirmed the circuit court's judgment (324 Ill. App. 3d 293), and we subsequently allowed defendant's petition for leave to appeal (177 Ill. 2d R. 315(a)). For the reasons that follow, we hold that leave to appeal in this matter was improvidently granted and dismiss the appeal.

BACKGROUND

Due to our disposition of the case, we will detail only those facts necessary to an understanding of our holding. The appellate court issued its opinion in this case on August 7, 2001. On August 24, 2001, defendant filed a document, in the appellate court, entitled "Affidavit of Intent to File Petition For Leave to Appeal." The document reads as follows:

"Comes now Defendant/Appellant, Illinois Farmers Insurance Company, and hereby states it intends to file a Petition for Leave to Appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 315.

Respectfully submitted,

Law Offices of Morgan & Associates"

The document was signed by one of the law firm's attorneys and was accompanied by a certificate of service. Defendant thereafter filed in this court its petition for leave to appeal on September 11, 2001. Plaintiff filed a response, and we granted leave to appeal on December 5, 2001.

ANALYSIS

Plaintiff contends that this appeal must be dismissed because defendant failed to comply with the requirements of Supreme Court Rule 315(b). Plaintiff argues that the affidavit of intent filed by defendant was a nullity and that, as a result, the petition for leave to appeal was untimely. Defendant, on the other hand, responds that, because the affidavit required under Rule 315(b) is one designed to "serve as notice of an action," the deficiencies of its affidavit of intent are inconsequential. Defendant also contends this issue is moot given the fact that this court has granted leave to appeal.

We begin our analysis with Rule 315(b), which states that

"[u]nless a timely petition for rehearing is filed in the Appellate Court, a party seeking leave to appeal must file the petition for leave in the Supreme Court within 21 days after entry of the judgment of the Appellate Court, or within the same 21 days file with the Appellate Court an affidavit of intent to file a petition for leave, and file the petition within 35 days after the entry of such judgment." (Emphasis added.) 177 Ill. 2d R. 315(b).

We interpret a supreme court rule in the same manner in which we interpret a statute, namely, by ascertaining and giving effect to the intent of the drafter. In re Estate of Rennick, 181 Ill. 2d 395, 404 (1998). The most reliable indicator of intent is the language used, which should be given its plain and ordinary meaning. Rennick, 181 Ill. 2d at 405. When the language is clear and unambiguous, we will apply the language used without resort to further aids of construction. Rennick, 181 Ill. 2d at 405.

In the case of Rule 315(b), the import of the language cannot be clearer-the rule requires that an "affidavit" be filed in order to secure a 35-day period in which to file a petition for leave to appeal in this court. Therefore, we must determine whether defendant filed an ...


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