from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 13-MR-1646.
Honorable Christopher C. Starck, Judge, Presiding.
Madigan, Attorney General, of Chicago (Carolyn E. Shapiro,
Solicitor General, and Ann C. Maskaleris, Assistant Attorney
General, of counsel), for appellant.
Rinehart, of Malia & Rinehart, of Waukegan, for appellee.
and Birkett, Justices concurred in the judgment and opinion.
[¶1] Defendant, Richard Calica, as Director
of the Department of Children and Family Services
(Department), appeals after the court granted the relief
sought by plaintiff, Christine Grimm, in her complaint for
administrative review, reversing the Department's
decision declining to expunge an " indicated"
child-abuse finding. The sole question on appeal is whether
the court had jurisdiction; defendant does not challenge the
court's ruling on its merits. The court's
jurisdiction depends on whether, as a matter of due process,
the complaint must be deemed timely filed despite
plaintiff's having filed it a day beyond the statutory
deadline. The complaint's timeliness, in turn, depends on
whether the Department's notice to plaintiff of its final
decision was clear enough to satisfy due-process
requirements. We hold that the notice was sufficiently
confusing as to the service date that it did not satisfy
due-process requirements, so that the complaint must be
deemed timely, thus giving the court jurisdiction. We
therefore affirm the court's order reversing the
Department's final ruling.
[¶3] This case stems from a determination by
the Department that evidence supported an "
indicated" child-abuse finding as to plaintiff.
Plaintiff sought expungement of that finding; the Department
addressed that request at an administrative hearing that took
place on June 20, 2013. On July 21, 2013, the administrative
law judge who presided over the hearing made a written
recommendation that the Department decide against expunging
the finding. This recommendation contained
the administrative law judge's findings in detail. The
Department issued a decision in accord with the
[¶4] The Department's decision is in the
form of a business letter on Department letterhead. This
decision (the letter decision) accepted the administrative
law judge's findings, but did not restate them in detail.
The letter decision's addressee was the attorney who had
represented plaintiff at the hearing, and it had a heading in
the following form:
" CERTIFIED MAIL
July 30, 2013