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Blumenthal v. Brewer

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division

December 19, 2014

JANE E. BLUMENTHAL, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
EILEEN M. BREWER, Defendant-Appellant

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. 10 CH 48730 . Honorable LeRoy K. Martin, Judge Presiding.

For Appellant: Angelika Kuehn, Angelika Kuehn Law Offices, Oak Park; Shannon Minter, Amy Whelan, Cathy Sakimura, Pro Hac Vice, National Center for Lesbian Rights, San Francisco.

For Appellee: Reuben A. Bernick, Chicago.

For Amici Curiae: John A. Knight, Robert Baldwin, Foundation of ACLU, Inc., Chicago; Nancy D. Polikoff, American University Washington College of Law, Washington, D.C.; Camilla B. Taylor, Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, Inc., Chicago.

JUSTICE McBRIDE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion Justices Gordon and Reyes concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Page 169

McBRIDE, JUSTICE.

[¶1] In 2010, Jane E. Blumenthal filed suit to partition a Chicago home she owned with Eileen M. Brewer, her former domestic partner of 26 years. Brewer counterclaimed for various remedies, including to receive sole title to the property so tat the couple's overall assets would be equalized after she stayed at home with the couple's three children while Blumenthal was the family's breadwinner. The trial court dismissed Brewer's counterclaims as factually deficient, relying upon a 1979 decision, Hewitt v. Hewitt, 77 Ill.2d 49, 394 N.E.2d 1204, 31 Ill.Dec. 827 (1979). In Hewitt, the court rejected on public policy grounds a woman's suit to divide assets she accumulated with a man during a 15-year relationship in which they lived together, had three children together, but never married. Brewer appeals, primarily contending that Hewitt has been implicitly overruled by subsequent legislation favorable to same-sex domestic partnerships. American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and Lambda Legal Defense & Education

Page 170

Fund, Inc., have filed an amici curiae brief in support of Brewer.

[¶2] When a party presents a motion to dismiss a pleading or count as factually deficient, the court determines whether there are actually sufficient allegations that, if proven, could entitle the complainant to relief. In re Marriage of Centioli, 335 Ill.App.3d 650, 781 N.E.2d 611, 269 Ill.Dec. 814 (2002); 735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 2010). A motion to dismiss for factual insufficiency is governed by section 2-615 of the Code of Civil Procedure. HPI Health Care Services, Inc. v. Mt. Vernon Hospital, Inc., 172 Ill.App.3d 718, 720, 527 N.E.2d 97, 100, 122 Ill.Dec. 725 (1988); 735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 2010). The court must accept all well-pled facts in the complaint as true and draw reasonable inferences from those facts that are favorable to the complainant. HPI Health Care Services, 172 Ill.App.3d at 720-21, 527 N.E.2d at 100; Centioli, 335 Ill.App.3d 650, 781 N.E.2d 611, 269 Ill.Dec. 814. Because the issue presented is a question of law, a reviewing court applies the de novo standard when addressing a dismissal pursuant to section 2-615. Centioli, 335 Ill.App.3d 650, 781 N.E.2d 611, 269 Ill.Dec. 814; 735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 2010).

[¶3] The pleading at issue here relates the following. Brewer and Blumenthal became domestic partners in 1981 or 1982, while they were pursuing graduate studies at the University of Chicago. At no point during their ensuing relationship were same-sex couples legally entitled to marry in Illinois. The pair, however, exchanged rings as symbols of their lifelong commitment to each other and presented themselves to their families and friends as a committed couple.

[¶4] Brewer subsequently attained a law degree from Harvard Law School and Blumenthal attained a medical degree from an undisclosed school.

[¶5] After law school, Brewer gave birth to a child in 1990 and a second child in 1992. Blumenthal gave birth to a child in 1993. The couple gave all ...


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