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In re Estate of Lasley

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

July 8, 2015

In re: the Estate of OWEN THOMAS LASLEY, Deceased,
v.
KEVIN McDERMOTT, Administrator of the Estate of Owen T. Lasley; MAREAN M. LASLEY; INDA C. BLAKLEY; and THOMAS T. LASLEY, Respondents-Appellees. OWEN FONTAINE LASLEY, Petitioner-Appellant,

Appeal from Circuit Court of Sangamon County No. 13P90 Honorable John P. Schmidt, Judge Presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE POPE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Knecht and Steigmann concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

POPE, PRESIDING JUSTICE.

¶ 1 On March 21, 2014, the trial court dismissed petitioner Owen Fontaine Lasley's (Fontaine) combined complaint for declaratory judgment pursuant to section 2-619 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 2012)) and stated its dismissal was a final order for purposes of appeal with no just cause to delay its enforcement. On July 2, 2014, the court denied Fontaine's motion to reconsider. Fontaine appeals, arguing the court erred in granting respondents' motion to strike and dismiss his combined complaint. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 3 On February 20, 2013, Inda C. Blakely (Inda) filed a petition for probate and letters of administration after the death of Owen Thomas Lasley (decedent) on January 28, 2013. Decedent died without a will. Listed as heirs to decedent's estate were Fontaine, Inda, Marean M. Lasley (Marean), and Thomas T. Lasley (Timmy). Inda also filed an affidavit of heirship with regard to the above-named heirs. The named heirs consented to Kevin N. McDermott as special administrator for the estate. On May 13, 2013, the trial court appointed McDermott as special administrator for the estate.

¶ 4 On November 26, 2013, Fontaine filed a combined complaint for declaratory judgment and motion to vacate order of heirship. According to the complaint, Fontaine is decedent's sole heir. The complaint alleged decedent told other family members, including Gerald Lasley, Velma Alexander, and Johngylene Stewart, that Fontaine was his only child and that he was not the father of Marean, Inda, and Timmy. Fontaine attached affidavits from Gerald Lasley, Velma Alexander, and Johngylene Stewart to his complaint. Gerald Lasley's affidavit stated in pertinent part:

"4. That [decedent] specifically told me that [Fontaine] was his only naturally born child of his first marriage to Wilma Ladoris Killion Lasley.
5. That [decedent] specifically told Timmy Lasley's wife that [decedent] was not Timmy Lasley's father."

Velma Alexander's affidavit stated in pertinent part:

"4. That I personally heard [decedent] state that of the four children born to his first wife, Wilma Ladoris Kidd Lasley, during their marriage, only [Fontaine] was his natural born child.
5. That I personally heard [decedent] state that Marean Lasley, Inda Blakely, and Timmy Lasley were not his children."

Johngylene Stewart's affidavit stated in pertinent part:

"3. That on an occasion approximately 15 years before his death, I heard [decedent] state that he was going to tell Marean Lasley, Inda Blakely, and Timmy Lasley that he was not their father and that he ...

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