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Golden v. Puccinelli

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division

September 30, 2016

JOHN GOLDEN, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
SEAN PUCCINELLI, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 88 L 25088 Honorable Alexander J. White, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE LAMPKIN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Reyes concurred in the judgment and opinion. Presiding Justice Gordon specially concurred, with opinion.

          OPINION

          LAMPKIN JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 This appeal involves the revival of judgments and section 2-1602(h) of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-1602(h) (West 2014)), which allows enforcement proceedings to continue to conclusion if a judgment becomes dormant during the pendency of an enforcement proceeding against wages.

         ¶ 2 This appeal arose from a personal injury litigation that resulted in a judgment in 1993 in favor of plaintiff John Golden and against defendant Sean Puccinelli. Eventually, Golden obtained a wage deduction judgment against Puccinelli's employer. In 2014, Puccinelli moved the circuit court to terminate the wage deduction proceedings and declare the 1993 judgment lapsed because more than 20 years had passed since it was entered. The circuit court denied the motion, holding that section 2-1602(h) applied to allow the judgment to be enforced and this application of section 2-1602(h) did not violate equal protection.

         ¶ 3 On appeal, Puccinelli contends the 2013 amendment that enacted section 2-1602(h) could not apply retroactively to revive the 1993 judgment in this case because the judgment had lapsed before the effective date of the statutory amendment. Alternatively, Puccinelli argues that if section 2-1602(h) applied in wage deduction proceedings to extend the enforcement of judgments more than 20 years old, then the amended statute violates equal protection and is unconstitutional because it discriminates arbitrarily between different types of judgment debtors.

         ¶ 4 For the reasons that follow, we find that the circuit court erred in denying Puccinelli's motion to terminate wage deduction proceedings and declare the over-20-year-old judgment entered against him lapsed. We hold that section 2-1602(h) of the Code does not extend the 20-year limitation on the revival of judgments. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the circuit court.

         ¶ 5 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 6 On April 2, 1993, the circuit court entered a judgment in favor of Golden and against Puccinelli for $162, 746. Between 1994 and 1999, Golden filed a series of wage deduction affidavits and summonses in an attempt to collect the judgment. On August 24, 1999, the circuit court entered a wage deduction order against Puccinelli's employer.

         ¶ 7 On January 16, 2005, Golden filed a petition to revive the judgment, and the circuit court entered an order reviving the judgment on August 25, 2005. There were no subsequent petitions for revival. Wages have been, and continue to be, deducted. To date, the judgment has not been completely satisfied.

         ¶ 8 On November 10, 2014, Puccinelli moved the court to terminate the wage deduction proceedings and declare the judgment lapsed. He contended the judgment could not be enforced because more than 7 years had elapsed from the time the judgment was rendered and more than 20 years had elapsed since the judgment was entered.

         ¶ 9 In response, Golden argued that the wage deductions should continue until the judgment was paid because an August 2013 amendment that added subsection (h) to section 2-1602 of the Code (Pub. Act 98-557 (eff. Jan. 1, 2014) (adding 735 ILCS 5/2-1602(h)) extended the 20-year time limitation in cases like his, where the judgment became dormant during the pendency of enforcement proceedings and the enforcement was done under court supervision, included a wage deduction order, and was against Puccinelli's employer.

         ¶ 10 Puccinelli responded that the section 2-1602(h) amendment could not apply retroactively and would violate equal protection by treating judgment debtors undergoing wage deduction proceedings differently from other judgment debtors.

         ¶ 11 On February 27, 2015, the circuit court denied Puccinelli's motion, ruling that section 2-1602(h) applied to allow the judgment to be enforced until the judgment was satisfied and this application of the statute did not violate equal protection. Puccinelli timely appealed.

         ¶ 12 II. ANALYSIS

         ¶ 13 Although the parties' arguments address only the retroactive application of the judgment revival statute and equal protection, the relevant issue here is whether section 2-1602(h) of the Code permits wage deduction proceedings to continue until the underlying judgment is satisfied, regardless of whether the 20-year time limitation for judgment revival has lapsed. If so, the court then would address whether the amendment adding subsection 2-1602(h) applies retroactively and whether the amendment and its retroactive application violate equal protection guaranties. The circuit court's ruling and the parties' arguments on appeal are based on their presumption that section 2-1602(h) creates an exception to the 20-year time limitation for judgment revival if the judgment becomes dormant during a pending, court supervised enforcement proceeding against wages. This presumption, however, lacks merit, and we find that the circuit court and the parties have misconstrued section 2-1602(h).

         ¶ 14 We review an issue of statutory interpretation, which is a question of law, de novo. People v. Messenger, 2015 IL App (3d) 130581, ¶ 12. In interpreting a statute, our goal must be "to determine and effectuate the intent of the legislature." People v. Amigon, 239 Ill.2d 71, 84 (2010). Our supreme court has stated that the "most reliable means" of doing so "is to apply the plain and ordinary meaning of the statutory language." Id. at 84-85.

         ¶ 15 When the plain language of the statute is clear and unambiguous, the legislative intent that is discernible from this language must prevail and no resort to other tools of statutory construction is necessary. Paris v. Feder, 179 Ill.2d 173, 177 (1997). We must rely on the plain and ordinary meaning of the words chosen by the legislature and give the language of the statute its effect as written, without reading into it exceptions, limitations, or conditions that the legislature did not express. Land v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, 202 Ill.2d 414, 426 (2002). Sections of the same statute "should be construed with every other part or section of the statute to produce a harmonious whole." Id. at 422. "Words and phrases should not be construed in isolation, but interpreted in light of other relevant portions of the statute so that, ...


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