MANNHEIM SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 83, Plaintiff-Appellant,
TEACHERS' RETIREMENT SYSTEM OF ILLINOIS, Defendant-Appellee
Appeal from Circuit Court of Sangamon County. No. 13MR795. Honorable John Madonia, Judge Presiding.
Allen Wall (argued), of Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., of Chicago, for appellant.
Ralph H. Loewenstein (argued), of Loewenstein, Hagen & Smith, P.C., of Springfield, for appellee.
JUSTICE APPLETON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Harris and Steigmann concurred in the judgment and opinion.
[¶1] Plaintiff, Mannheim School District No. 83 (Mannheim), appeals the circuit court's order dismissing with prejudice its complaint for administrative review filed against defendant, Teachers' Retirement System of Illinois (TRS). The court dismissed the complaint because plaintiff failed to sue and serve the correct defendant in compliance with the applicable section of the Administrative Review Law (735 ILCS 5/3-107(a) (West 2012)). We affirm.
[¶2] I. BACKGROUND
[¶3] On September 13, 2013, plaintiff filed a complaint for administrative review, seeking the circuit court's review of the August 15, 2013, decision of the Board of Trustees of the Teachers' Retirement Systems (Board). Although the substantive content of the administrative decision is not at issue, suffice it to say the Board found plaintiff was required to contribute to two of its administrators' retirement pay due to employment contract addendums.
[¶4] Plaintiff served defendant by forwarding the complaint and summons via certified mail to the executive director of the TRS. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss
pursuant to section 2-619 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 2012)), claiming the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because plaintiff (1) was not the proper party to bring the lawsuit, (2) sued the wrong defendant, and (3) did not issue a summons within 35 days of the administrative decision as required by section 3-103 of the Administrative Review Law (735 ILCS 5/3-103 (West 2012)).
[¶5] In the motion to dismiss and accompanying memorandum in support, defendant first claimed the Board is the proper party to be named as defendant, as it was the Board, not the TRS itself, that made the underlying administrative decision. Second, defendant claimed plaintiff was " incorrectly named" as well, as the complaint should have been brought by the Board of Education of Mannheim School District 83, not the district itself. Finally, defendant claimed plaintiff failed to have the summons issued within 35 days after the administrative decision was mailed on August 16, 2013. The summons was not issued until September 30, 2013, 45 days after mailing.
[¶6] In response to the motion to dismiss, plaintiff claimed the issue of naming the incorrect parties was addressed in a 2008 amendment to section 3-107 of the Administrative Review Law (735 ILCS 5/3-107 (West 2012)) in response to the supreme court's decision in Ultsch v. Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, 226 Ill.2d 169, 191, 874 N.E.2d 1, 314 Ill.Dec. 91 (2007) (administrative review case dismissed for failure to name the proper defendant). In 2008, Public Act 95-831 (eff. Aug. 14, 2008) was enacted and amended section 3-111(a)(4) of the Administrative Review Law to authorize the circuit court to correct misnomers or join agencies or parties. 735 ILCS 5/3-111(a)(4) (West 2012). Plaintiff claimed if the amendment itself did not save the lawsuit from dismissal, public policy should govern and allow plaintiff the opportunity to amend. Further, plaintiff argued the delay in issuing the summons did not lie with plaintiff.
[¶7] On February 25, 2014, after a hearing on defendant's motion to dismiss, the circuit court entered a memorandum of opinion, granting defendant's motion with prejudice. The court found " the amendments made *** do not cover the specific circumstances in this case, and the language of the amended statute does not qualify the plaintiff to add or join necessary parties." Noting the precise language of the amendment did not save plaintiff's complaint, the court stated:
" Specifically, section 3-107(a) still requires the plaintiff to name, as defendants, either the administrative agency that made the final decision at issue in the case, or the director or agency head, in his or her official capacity. If a plaintiff names just the administrative agency, but fails to name all persons who were parties of record to the decision, then the amended language of the statute would allow for the plaintiff to name and serve the additional necessary parties within a renewed 35 day time limit. Conversely, if plaintiff names just the director or agency head, in his or her official capacity, as defendants in a complaint for administrative review, and fails to name the administrative agency, board, committee, or government entity, then the plaintiff would again have the right to name the administrative agency as an additional defendant and provide for service within the 35 day limit. This is how the court reads 735 ILCS 5/3-107(a) [(West 2012)].
In the instant case, plaintiff did not name any defendant in its complaint that would have allowed for naming additional ...