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Murphy v. Colson

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

October 24, 2013

DEAN MURPHY, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
DAN COLSON, Defendant-Appellee.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Boone County, No. 10-L-49 Honorable Brendan A. Maher, Judge, Presiding.

JUSTICE JORGENSEN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Hudson and Birkett concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

JORGENSEN JUSTICE

¶ 1 Plaintiff, Dean Murphy, filed a complaint against defendant, Dan Colson, and the trial court granted defendant's motion for partial summary judgment, finding constitutional the statutory exclusion of certain noneconomic compensatory damages under the Alienation of Affections Act (740 ILCS 5/1 et seq. (West 2008)) and the Criminal Conversation Act (740 ILCS 5/50 et seq. (West 2008)). Upon the court's Rule 304(a) finding (Ill. S.Ct. R. 304(a) (eff. Sept. 20, 2006)), plaintiff appealed. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 3 In 1991, plaintiff, a dentist, married Dawn Murphy. They had six children together, and they raised their family in the Catholic faith. According to the complaint, in August 2008, Dawn hired defendant as her personal trainer at the Cross Fit gym. Defendant knew that Dawn was married to plaintiff. Nevertheless, in December 2008, defendant began a course of conduct that included purchasing gifts for Dawn, taking Dawn on dates, and engaging in sexual relations with Dawn. ¶ 4 In November 2009, Dawn petitioned for a divorce from plaintiff. In September 2010, the court granted dissolution on the ground of irreconcilable differences.

¶ 5 In November 2010, plaintiff filed a three-count civil complaint against defendant for: (1) alienation of affection; (2) criminal conversation; and (3) intentional infliction of emotional distress (intentional infliction of emotional distress is not at issue in this appeal).

¶ 6 In December 2011, plaintiff amended his complaint. As to damages, plaintiff broadly alleged that he cannot marry again, because to do so would be in direct contradiction to his Catholic faith. Specifically, plaintiff sought damages for: (a) marital counseling expenses; (b) loss of value of his dental practice (presumably through the distribution of property in the divorce case); (c) loss of value of a second dental business (again, presumably through the distribution of property in the divorce case); (d) maintenance payments to Dawn as ordered in the divorce case; (e) loss of an individual retirement account in his name (again, presumably through the distribution of property in the divorce case); (f) loss of Dawn's business referrals to his dental practice; (g) loss of income due to time spent away from work to address the family problems; (h) residential rental expenses during the divorce proceedings; (i) guardian ad litem and mediator expenses; (j) loss of consortium; (k) loss of society; (l) mental anguish; (m) injured feelings; (n) shame, humiliation, sorrow, and mortification; (o) defamation and injury to his good name and character; and (p) dishonor to his family.[1]

¶ 7 As is at issue in this appeal, plaintiff also amended his complaint to seek a declaration that the statutory exclusion of certain noneconomic compensatory damages, under the Alienation of Affections Act and the Criminal Conversation Act, is unconstitutional.[2] The nature of the exclusion and the constitutionality arguments will be set forth in detail in our analysis section.

¶ 8 In May 2012, plaintiff filed a motion for partial summary judgment, seeking a declaration of unconstitutionality as to the statutory exclusion. The trial court denied plaintiff's motion. In ruling, the court noted that plaintiff had set forth many constitutional arguments but had developed only those concerning the separation of powers clause and the special legislation clause (and, as a component of that argument, the equal protection clause).

¶ 9 In November 2012, defendant filed his own motion for partial summary judgment, seeking a declaration that the statutory exclusion was indeed constitutional. The trial court granted defendant's motion and entered a Rule 304(a) finding. This appeal followed.

¶ 10 II. ANALYSIS

¶ 11 A. Overview of Plaintiff's Argument

¶ 12 Plaintiff argues that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to defendant and declaring constitutional the statutory exclusion of certain noneconomic compensatory damages under the Alienation of Affections Act and the Criminal Conversation Act (the Acts). Plaintiff accepts that the Acts' exclusion of punitive damages is constitutional. Of course, we review de novo both an order granting summary judgment and the question of a statute's constitutionality. Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, 237 Ill.2d 217, 227 (2010) (constitutionality); Hall v. Henn, 208 Ill.2d 325, 328 (2003) (summary judgment). As plaintiff agrees, a finding on the issue of constitutionality controls the propriety of the summary judgment ruling, and so we focus our analysis there.

¶ 13 Specifically, plaintiff contends that the statutory exclusion of the noneconomic compensatory damages at issue here is unconstitutional in that it: (1) violates the separation of powers clause (Ill. Const. 1970, art. II, § 1); (2) is special legislation (Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV, § 13) (and, as a component of that, denies plaintiff his right to equal protection (Ill. Const. 1970, Article I, § 2)); (3) denies him his right to complete remedy (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, § 12); (4) denies him his right to a jury trial (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, § 13); and (5) denies him his right to due process (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, § 2). However, plaintiff develops argument on only the first two of these claims, and therefore he forfeits the remaining three claims. See Ill. S.Ct. R. 341(h)(7) (eff. Feb. 6, 2013).

¶ 14 Essentially, plaintiff acknowledges that, in Siegall v. Solomon, 19 Ill.2d 145, 148-51 (1960), the supreme court expressly upheld the constitutionality of the Acts' exclusion of certain noneconomic compensatory damages. However, he argues that Siegall has been implicitly overruled by subsequent supreme court rulings, such as Best v. Taylor Machine Works, 179 Ill.2d 367 (1997) (personal injury), and Lebron, 237 Ill.2d 217 (medical malpractice), which held unconstitutional the caps on noneconomic compensatory recovery in the causes of action at issue there. Plaintiff further acknowledges that Lebron specifically distinguished itself from Siegall, but he contends that the ...


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