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Willa Manning v. the City of Chicago

February 25, 2011

WILLA MANNING,
SPECIAL ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF DAVID WILSON, DECEASED,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
THE CITY OF CHICAGO, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION,
AND LUKE DALY, STAR NO. 21064,
DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 05 L 11551 The Honorable Richard J. Elrod, Judge Presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE FITZGERALD SMITH delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Justices Howse and Epstein concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

David Wilson originally brought suit against defendants-appellees the City of Chicago, a municipal corporation, and Detective Luke Daly, star No. 21064 (defendants or as named), related to an incident which resulted in Detective Daly shooting Wilson while in an interview room at police headquarters. Following trial, a jury returned a verdict in favor of defendants. Wilson appealed; during the pendency of his appeal, Wilson died. Thereafter, plaintiff Willa Manning, special administratrix of the estate of David Wilson, deceased (plaintiff), assumed Wilson's appeal. Currently, plaintiff presents nine contentions on review, asserting, in brief, several errors by the trial court concerning, in part, jury instructions, expert and witness testimony, the introduction of a prior conviction, and its decisions to dismiss counts of Wilson's complaint and to deny him leave to file a second amended complaint. Plaintiff asks that we reverse the trial court's entry of judgment on the jury's verdict in favor of defendants and that we remand the matter for a new trial.

We find, however, that we are without jurisdiction to consider this appeal because the notice of appeal was not timely filed. Therefore, pursuant to our analysis below, we must dismiss this cause.

BACKGROUND

Because our decision turns on jurisdiction and the timeliness of the notice of appeal, we need not present a full recitation of the facts involved in the incident at issue or the resulting jury trial. Instead, we present only those facts relevant to our disposition herein.

As noted, Wilson was shot by Detective Daly while in custody on a warrant for two forcible felonies; the incident took place in an interview room at police headquarters. Wilson was shot in the stomach, right forearm and left upper arm, and his wounds caused paralysis in his legs. In October 2005, Wilson brought a two-count complaint against defendants alleging willful and wanton conduct and agency; he later filed an amended complaint to include two additional counts for negligence under the special duty exception to the public duty rule. The trial court eventually dismissed the negligence counts and denied Wilson's motion to file a second amended complaint. The cause proceeded to a jury trial on the willful and wanton and agency counts. Following several motions in limine and the presentation of multiple witnesses and forensic evidence, the jury returned a verdict in favor of defendants. In response to a special interrogatory, the jury found that when he shot Wilson, Detective Daly "reasonably believe[d] that such force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself."

The trial court entered judgment on the jury's verdict on September 4, 2008. Wilson moved for an extension of time to file his posttrial motion. The court granted his motion on October 6, 2008, giving him until December 19, 2008, to file his posttrial motion. Then, on December 18, 2008, Wilson moved for a second extension to time to file his posttrial motion. However, the court did not grant his motion until December 29, 2008, giving him until February 2, 2009, to file his posttrial motion. The record further indicates that Wilson later filed a motion for a third extension of time in which to file his posttrial motion, and that the court granted this on February 5, 2009, giving him until February 9, 2009, to file a posttrial motion. Wilson filed his posttrial motion for a new trial on February 9, 2009. The trial court denied his motion on May 19, 2009. Wilson filed his notice of appeal on June 17, 2009.

On June 22, 2010, during the pendency of his appeal before our court, Wilson died.

Plaintiff was appointed in this matter on Wilson's behalf.

ANALYSIS

We state at the outset that the record is clear that the trial court lost jurisdiction over Wilson's matter as of December 19, 2008, long before he filed his notice of appeal and, thus, we are deprived of jurisdiction to hear plaintiff's appeal.

Our state's rules and procedures regarding legal proceedings are not mere suggestions but, instead, are required to be followed by all parties to a cause of action in our courts. See Trentman v. Kappel, 333 Ill. App. 3d 440, 441 (2002). Illinois Supreme Court Rule 303(a)(1) (Ill. S. Ct. R. 303(a)(1) (eff. May 30, 2008)) mandates that, in order for our court to be vested with jurisdiction, a notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days of the entry of the final judgment in the trial court, or, if a timely posttrial motion directed against the judgment has been filed, within 30 days after the entry of the order disposing of that motion. See also Ill. S. Ct. R. 301 (eff. Feb. 1, 1994). Relatedly, section 2-1202(c) ...


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