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Jeannette Sola v. Roselle Police Pension Board

January 6, 2012

JEANNETTE SOLA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
ROSELLE POLICE PENSION BOARD, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE
(THE VILLAGE OF ROSELLE, INTERVENOR-APPELLANT). THE VILLAGE OF ROSELLE,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ROSELLE POLICE PENSION BOARD AND JEANNETTE SOLA, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 02-MR-297 Honorable Bonnie M. Wheaton, Judge, Presiding. Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 10-MR-44 Honorable Bonnie M. Wheaton, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Burke

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

Presiding Justice Jorgensen and Justice Birkett concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 In these consolidated appeals, the Village of Roselle (Village) challenges: (1) the denial of the Village's motion to dissolve or vacate a permanent injunction (appeal No. 2-10-0608), and (2) the dismissal, granted in favor of Jeannette Sola and the Roselle Police Pension Board (Board) pursuant to section 2-619 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 2010)), of the Village's complaint for administrative review, certiorari, and mandamus (appeal No. 2-10-1107). We affirm.

¶ 2 BACKGROUND

¶ 3 Since May 10, 1993, Sola has received pension benefits as the surviving spouse of a former Village police officer. Shortly thereafter, the Board granted her an annual 3% cost-of-living increase on her survivorship benefits. In December 2001, Sola received from the Village a letter informing her that her pension benefits for 2002 would not increase beyond the 2001 level, as a result of the Department of Insurance's position that surviving spouses of police officers are not entitled to cost-of-living increases. The letter further informed Sola that a hearing was scheduled at which her pension benefits might be affected.

¶ 4 Sola filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief (case No. 02-MR-297), arguing that the Board was without jurisdiction to conduct a hearing to review her pension benefits, because it did not timely review its original pension decision pursuant to section 3-101 of the Administrative Review Law (review law) (735 ILCS 5/3-101 (West 2010)), which limits the review of an administrative decision to a 35-day period after the decision is issued. Rossler v. Morton Grove Police Pension Board, 178 Ill. App. 3d 769, 774 (1989). The trial court granted Sola's request and permanently enjoined the Board from conducting a hearing to review Sola's pension benefits.

¶ 5 On appeal, we held that the Board had no jurisdiction to review Sola's pension benefits, as its decision was final beyond the 35-day limit for review of administrative decisions. Sola v. Roselle Police Pension Board, 342 Ill. App. 3d 227, 230-31 (2003) (Sola I). We did not consider the Village's argument that the Illinois Pension Code does not authorize cost-of-living increases to surviving spouses' pensions, because the only issue before us was whether the Board had jurisdiction to hold a hearing to review Sola's pension benefits. Sola I, 342 Ill. App. 3d at 233.

¶ 6 In Roselle Police Pension Board v. Village of Roselle,232Ill. 2d 546(2009), the supreme court resolved the issue regarding cost-of-living increases to surviving spouses' pensions. The Roselle court agreed with the Village and held that article 3 of the Illinois Pension Code (Pension Code) (now 40 ILCS 5/3-101 et seq. (West 2010)) does not permit annual cost-of-living increases for survivors of police officers. Roselle,232Ill. 2d at 559.

¶ 7 The Board then notified Sola by letter on November 3, 2009, that it was holding a hearing to determine whether Roselle's holding prohibited the Board from awarding Sola the cost-of-living increases. After considering arguments and pleadings, the Board found that it had no jurisdiction to modify Sola's pension benefits and that it should continue to award the increases until ordered by the court to do otherwise.

¶ 8 On January 13, 2010, the Village filed a complaint seeking certiorari, mandamus, and administrative review of the Board's decision that the Board lacked jurisdiction to modify Sola's pension benefits (case No. 10-MR-44). Based on what the Village claimed was the clear mandate of Roselle, the Village requested that the trial court order the Board to cease its practice of awarding cost-of-living increases to Sola.

¶ 9 On January 21, 2010, the Village filed a motion to dissolve or vacate the permanent injunction enjoining the Board from conducting a hearing to review Sola's pension benefits. As it did in the complaint for administrative review, the Village sought, pursuant to Roselle, an end to the Board's practice of awarding cost-of-living increases to Sola. On May 20, 2010, the trial court denied the Village's motion to dissolve or vacate the permanent injunction, finding that the Board had no jurisdiction to modify Sola's pension benefits. On June 10, 2010, the Village filed a timely notice of appeal (No. 2-10-0608).

ΒΆ 10 On June 23, 2010, the Board and Sola filed a motion to dismiss the Village's complaint for administrative review, certiorari, and mandamus, pursuant to section 2-619 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 2010)). The Board and Sola argued that the Village's claims must be dismissed as the claims were precluded on res judicata and collateral estoppel grounds. The trial court agreed and granted the motion to dismiss. The ...


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