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Janis B. Reda v. Estate of Mario R. Reda

February 15, 2011

JANIS B. REDA,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
ESTATE OF MARIO R. REDA,
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 85 D 26132 Honorable Mark Lopez,Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Harris

JUSTICE HARRIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Presiding Justice Cunningham and Justice Karnezis concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

The marriage of plaintiff Janis B. Reda and decedent Mario Reda ended in divorce in 1988. Janis was awarded a half interest in Mario's pension which remained in the pension until Mario's death in 2007. The circuit court entered judgment in Janis' favor against defendant, the estate of Mario R. Reda (Estate), for $161,121 finding that at the time of the divorce her one-half interest in the pension was $32,460 and that she was entitled to receive the interest that had accrued in the pension plan on her half up to the time of Mario's death. A constructive trust was ordered upon the Estate in the amount of the judgment. The Estate appeals, acknowledging that based on the judgment of dissolution of marriage, Janis is entitled to her half of Mario's pension, $32,460, but argues that she is not entitled to any accrual of the value of her half of the pension from the time of the judgment of dissolution of marriage in 1988 until Mario's death in 2007. We affirm, finding the circuit court's judgment in the amount of $161,121 was proper based on the intent of the parties at the time of the dissolution of marriage to provide Janis one half of Mario's pension, and that it would be inequitable for the Estate to be unjustly enriched with the interest that had accrued in the pension plan on her half up to the time of Mario's death.

JURISDICTION

On January 19, 2010, the circuit court entered its final judgment denying the Estate's motion to reconsider. On February 17, 2010, the Estate filed its notice of appeal. Accordingly, this court has jurisdiction pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rules 301 and 303 governing appeals from final judgments entered below. Ill. S. Ct. R. 301 (eff. Feb. 1, 1994); R. 303 (eff. May 30, 2008).

BACKGROUND

Mario and Janis Reda were married for 23 years. In 1988, their marriage ended in a divorce. During their marriage, Mario was an employee of the College of DuPage, in DuPage County, Illinois and contributed to the State University Retirement System of Illinois (SURS). At issue in this case is Janis's interest in Mario's pension plan through SURS. The judgment for dissolution of marriage, which incorporated an oral marital settlement agreement between the parties, addressed the pension plan under paragraph (P) of the judgment for dissolution of marriage. Paragraph (P) states, in relevant part:

"P. Mario currently has an interest in the State University Retirement System Pension of Illinois, hereinafter designated 'the pension plan' ***.

1. Current Contribution. Mario's total cash contributions to the pension plan, plus interest thereon, was currently valued at $64,920 as of January 1, 1988.

2. Termination of Employment. In the event Mario shall, for any reason whatsoever, regardless of cause, prior to retirement, cease to be an 'employee,' *** or commences a leave of absence or leaves of absence having a total or combined duration of in excess of 2 calender years, *** he shall apply for a refund of his contributions plus interest thereon and pay to Janis within fifteen (15) days from the date of receipt by him of said lump sum pension payment, the sum of $32,460 plus the proportion of the interest earned after December 21, 1987 attributable to the sum of $32,460.

3. Death of Mario Prior or Janis Prior to Retirement. Mario shall obtain within thirty (30) days from the date of entry of the Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage a life insurance policy on his life or an annuity in the face amount of $32,460.00 payable to Janis as irrevocable beneficiary. *** Mario shall provide Janis with proof of purchase, the original life insurance policy or annuity contract and proof of premium payment on an annual basis ***.

Paragraph (P)(4) of the agreement provided Janis with an interest, upon Mario's retirement, of her half of the pension benefits. Paragraph (P)(4) accounted for the accrued value of Janis's half of the monthly ...


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