Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign County No. 98CH235 Honorable Harry E. Clem, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Appleton
JUSTICE APPLETON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Justice Pope concurred in the judgment and opinion.
Justice Turner specially concurred, with opinion.
¶ 1 Plaintiffs, Ross E. McNeil and Leslie K. McNeil, and one of the defendants, Milorad P. Ketchens, had a dispute over who owned a narrow triangle-shaped piece of the driveway at 609 West Stoughton Street in Urbana. In McNeil v. Ketchens, 397 Ill. App. 3d 375, 395 (2010), we resolved the dispute by holding that although the McNeils had not acquired this sliver of land by deed, they had acquired it by adverse possession. Accordingly, we affirmed the trial court's judgment in part and reversed it in part, without remanding the case.
¶ 2 After we issued our mandate, the trial court entered two orders on February 25, 2011, with the intent of implementing our mandate. One of the orders, entitled "Judgment Order," pertained to Ketchens. The other order, entitled "Default Judgment Order," pertained to the "unknown owners and non-record claimants." Ketchens appeals from both orders-- which we affirm, not only because the orders caused him no prejudice, considering that they merely echoed our holdings in McNeil, but also because res judicata bars him from relitigating the ownership of the land. Therefore, we affirm the trial court's judgment.
¶ 4 As we said, the McNeils and Ketchens were in a dispute over who owned a narrow wedge-shaped piece of the driveway at 609 West Stoughton Street in Urbana. McNeil, 397 Ill. App. 3d at 377. As in McNeil, we will call this sliver of land "Tract A." Id. at 379. It had the following legal description:
" 'Commencing at the North East corner of Lot Two (2) Block Ten (10) of J.W. Sim's Jr. addition to Urbana, running thence in a Northerly direction parallel with the East line of Lot Five (5) of a subdivision of lot Thirty-five (35) of a subdivision of the South West Quarter of the south West Quarter of Section Eight (8) Township Nineteen (19) North Range Nine (9) East 3rd P.M. thence North 84.7 feet to the North East corner of Lot Five (5) of said subdivision thence running in a Westerly direction 13.11 feet parallel with the North line of Lot Five (5) of said subdivision thence South to the point of beginning.' " Id. at 380.
¶ 5 Tract A, legally described above, had always been part of the driveway that skirted the west side of the house at 609 West Stoughton Street, Urbana, where the McNeils lived. McNeil, 397 Ill. App. 3d at 379. The driveway went in a straight line from the street to the McNeils' garage, and the McNeils were under the impression that 100% of the driveway belonged to them. Id. at 385.
On January 4, 1998, however, Ketchens parked his car on the portion of the driveway corresponding to Tract A, and he refused to move his car, claiming that Tract A belonged to him. Id. at 377. Apparently, he intended to acquire ownership of Tract A through adverse possession, together with payment of taxes, for seven years (see 735 ILCS 5/13-109 (West 1998)). Id. at 381.
¶ 6 On December 22, 1998, to head off this gambit, the McNeils filed a civil complaint against Ketchens, and they also named all "unknown owners and non-record claimants." Count I of the complaint sought a declaratory judgment that Ketchens was not the owner of Tract A. McNeil, 397 Ill. App. 3d at 377. Count II sought a judgment quieting title in the McNeils on the theory that they had acquired Tract A by their purchase of 609 West Stoughton Street. Id. Count III (added to the complaint by amendment) sought a declaratory judgment that the McNeils had acquired Tract A by adverse possession for 20 years. Id.
¶ 7 In a bench trial, the trial court found that the McNeils had not acquired the title to Tract A by their purchase of 609 West Stoughton Street (McNeil, 397 Ill. App. 3d at 385) and that they had not carried their burden of proving adverse possession for 20 years (id. at 386). Because the court found that the McNeils lacked an ownership interest in Tract A, it concluded that they lacked standing to seek a declaratory judgment that Ketchens was not ...