from the Circuit Court of Will County, No. 10-OV-2535; the
Hon. Carmen Goodman, Judge, presiding.
in part and vacated in part. Cause remanded with directions.
Malgorzata Szayna, of Alexandria, Virginia, appellant pro se.
J. Kucharz, Assistant Corporation Counsel, of Joliet, for
PRESIDING JUSTICE O'BRIEN delivered the judgment of the
court, with opinion. Justice McDade concurred in the judgment
and opinion. Justice Carter dissented, with opinion.
O'BRIEN PRESIDING JUSTICE
1 Defendant, Malgorzata Szayna, appeals from a judgment
finding her guilty of failure to abate violations of the City
of Joliet's ordinance code and unlawful occupancy of a
rental unit. Defendant requests we vacate the judgment and
remand with instructions to dismiss the complaint. We affirm
in part, vacate in part, and remand with directions.
3 On May 11, 2010, plaintiff, the City of Joliet, filed a
two-count complaint against defendant, the owner of a
multiple-unit apartment building located in Joliet. Count I
of the complaint alleged that defendant committed the offense
of failure to abate violations of the ordinances of the City
of Joliet. Count I alleged that each violation was subject to
a fine of up to "$750.00 per day each violation is
allowed to exist in violation of Ordinance Section 8-355 of
the Ordinances of the City of Joliet."
4 Plaintiff attached to the complaint a list of the ordinance
violations it claimed defendant failed to abate. The list of
violations is based upon an inspection of the property dated
March 3, 2010, and includes the following ordinance
(1) building windows missing screens;
(2) building screen door defective;
(3) building doors needed to be scraped and painted;
(4) the east porch's foundation defective;
(5) garage siding needed to be scraped and painted;
(6) dining room broken glass window in unit 1;
(7) master bath toilet in unit 1 defective or missing;
(8) unit 2 vacant;
(9) unit 3 no entry and inspection needed;
(10) unit 6 no entry and inspection needed;
(11) light fixture cover missing in unit 8; and
(12) kitchen light fixture defective in unit 8.
5 Count II of the complaint alleged that on March 3, 2010,
defendant committed the offense of "failure to allow an
inspection of a rental unit." Count II alleged that this
violation was subject to a fine of up to $750 per day each
violation is allowed to exist. Plaintiff did not file an
amended complaint during the proceedings.
6 On August 10, 2010, an attorney filed an appearance on
behalf of defendant. Defendant did not file an answer to the
complaint. The matter would remain pending for the next four
7 I. September 14, 2010, to August 26, 2014
8 At the outset, we note that the record on appeal does not
contain any transcripts from the proceedings from September
14, 2010, through August 26, 2014. For clarity, we note that
our discussion of this period derives from the trial
court's written orders, the docket sheet, and the
9 On September 14, 2010, the trial court entered an agreed
order requiring defendant to "install all applicable
smoke detectors and present the building for inspection of
the smoke detectors." The complaint did not include an
allegation regarding smoke detectors. The trial court
continued the matter for status of defendant's compliance
with "all other pending building violations."
10 On October 12, 2010, the parties agreed to an order
continuing the matter "for status of defendant's
compliance with the requirements of the City of Joliet
building code and residential inspection obligations and the
curing of all housing code violations."
11 On December 14, 2010, the trial court continued the matter
for status of defendant's compliance and ordered
defendant to allow plaintiff to inspect defendant's
12 From December 28, 2010, through March 8, 2011, the parties
agreed to continue the matter for status.
13 On April 26, 2011, the parties agreed to continue the
matter "for trial of defendant's reimbursement to
plaintiff of its building inspection fees and status of
defendant's compliance with the completion of the work
required by the building code."
14 On May 24, 2011, defendant failed to appear in person for
trial. The trial court entered a written order requiring the
following: (1) defendant was to "complete/abate
violations excluding exterior sidewalk by 7/12/11, " (2)
defendant was to apply for and participate in the
"City's sidewalk program, " (3) defendant was
to pay all outstanding inspection fees, and (4) plaintiff was
to provide defendant with an itemized inspection bill. Unlike
the May 24 order, the complaint does not include an
allegation regarding the sidewalk surrounding defendant's
property. Plaintiff did not file an amended complaint that
included an allegation concerning the sidewalk.
15 On July 12, 2011, the trial court entered a written order
directing defendant to perform the following acts: (1) apply
for participation in the "sidewalk repair program,
" (2) "paint and scrape all windows and install
replacement frames, " (3) pay outstanding inspection
fees of $1652, (4) and allow plaintiff to inspect the
building. Defendant was provided 30 days to repair any
deficiencies noted in the inspection. In addition, plaintiff
reserved the right to respond to and cite defendant for any
building code violations that were brought to its attention.
16 On September 8, 2011, plaintiff filed a petition for rule
to show cause against defendant. The petition alleged that
defendant had failed to pay the inspection fees as ordered by
the trial court on July 12, 2011.
17 On October 25, 2011, the trial court entered a written
order, which stated that defendant's attorney appeared on
her behalf and tendered a check to plaintiff for the
inspection fees defendant was previously ordered to pay. The
trial court continued the rule to show cause to determine
whether defendant should be held in contempt for failing to
honor the trial court's prior order "as to painting
and scraping of windows, sidewalk replacement, and payment of
18 On December 13, 2011, and January 24, 2012, the trial
court entered written orders continuing the matter for status
review of defendant's completion of repairs.
19 On February 28, 2012, the trial court entered a written
order continuing the matter for status of
"defendant's completion of all open items on the
city code violations inspection list dated February 28,
2012." In addition, the court ordered defendant to
"cooperate with the reinspection of the property."
Although the written order referenced an inspection occurring
February 28, 2012, the complaint is based on a list of
violations based on a March 3, 2010, inspection of the
20 On April 24, 2012, the trial court entered a written order
stating that the matter was before the court for trial.
Counsel for defendant represented to the court that defendant
(who lived out of state) could not attend the trial because
of her child's illness. The court ordered defendant to
"clean the property of all debris, including abandoned
furniture, and mow the grass." According to the order,
defendant's failure to do so would result in plaintiff
performing the work at defendant's expense. The matter
was continued for trial "on all outstanding ordinance
21 On May 22, 2012, defense counsel appeared; however,
defendant herself failed again to appear for trial. The May
22 order noted that plaintiff moved for a judgment for
defendant's failure to cure all building code violations.
The trial court ordered defendant and all tenants of the
building to vacate the premises immediately due to the
building code violations. Further, the trial court allowed
plaintiff to impose liens for its cleaning of the property
and mowing of the grass. The trial court reserved its ruling
on the fine, court costs, and expense to be awarded to
plaintiff for defendant's failure to bring the property
into compliance with the building code.
22 On July 24, 2012, defendant appeared in person along with
her counsel. The trial court entered a written order stating
defendant agreed "to perform the work identified in the
February 28, 2012 inspection list and will also reinstall the
missing front door and patch the front porch step
concrete." The order directed defendant to allow
plaintiff access to the building to perform further
23 On November 27, 2012, the trial court entered a written
order directing defendant to allow plaintiff access to the
property. The matter was continued for "review of code
violations and defendant's obligation to bring the
building into compliance with the building codes."
24 On February 26, 2013, the trial court entered a written
order directing defendant to allow plaintiff to inspect the
property. The matter was continued for a review of
defendant's compliance with the "repair of building
25 On March 26, 2013, the trial court entered a written order
continuing the matter for status and for trial scheduling.
The trial court also ordered defendant to allow plaintiff ...