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Finko v. City of Chicago Department of Administrative Hearings

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division

December 5, 2016

ANDREW FINKO, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO DEPARTMENT OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS; and CITY OF CHICAGO DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE, Respondents-Appellees.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 2014 M1 627765 Honorable Susan Kennedy Sullivan, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE HARRIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Simon and Mikva concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          HARRIS JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Petitioner, Andrew Finko, appeals from the order of the circuit court denying his motion to consolidate and compel the city of Chicago to prepare and file the record of proceedings concerning ticket #9185712107. On appeal, petitioner contends the court erred in denying his motion to consolidate because ticket #9185712107 involved the same alleged violation occurring in the same location, against the same defendant (petitioner), as ticket #918567656, a matter properly before the court on administrative review. Petitioner also argues on appeal that the court erred in ordering the clerk of the court to refund petitioner's filing fee. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         ¶ 2 JURISDICTION

         ¶ 3 The Department of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) issued its findings and final determinations on ticket #9185712107 and ticket #918567656, on August 18, 2014. On September 12, 2014, petitioner filed a complaint for administrative review. The trial court denied petitioner's motion to consolidate, and reversed the DOAH's determination as to ticket #918567656, on April 23, 2015. Petitioner filed a motion to reconsider which the trial court denied on September 10, 2015. Petitioner filed his notice of appeal on October 8, 2015. Accordingly, this court has jurisdiction pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rules 301 and 303 governing appeals from final judgments entered below. Ill. S.Ct. R. 301 (eff. Feb. 1, 1994); R. 303 (eff. May 30, 2008).

         ¶ 4 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 5 Petitioner was issued two parking tickets, #918567656 on July 10, 2014, and #9185712107 on July 28, 2014, for parking his vehicle in violation of section 9-64-080(a) of the Chicago Municipal Code (Municipal Code) (Municipal Code of Chicago, Ill. § 9-64-080(a) (2014)). Petitioner contested both tickets by mail and on August 18, 2014, the administrative law judge (ALJ) issued findings for each ticket in separate orders. For each ticket, the ALJ found that "the information submitted supports a determination that the violation occurred" and therefore, petitioner was "responsible for the fine of $100.00." The DOAH's final determination affirmed the ALJ's findings.

         ¶ 6 On September 12, 2014, petitioner, an attorney, filed a pro se complaint for administrative review listing both ticket numbers on the complaint and attaching copies of the separate DOAH orders as exhibits. In the complaint, petitioner alleged that the ALJ's determinations were "not in accordance with the law" because "[t]here were no 'Rush Hour' signs posted prohibiting parking." On November 26, 2014, the trial court issued an order regarding "Violation No: 918567656" that directed defendants to respond, continued the matter to March 3, 2015, and stayed collection of the fine until resolution of petitioner's appeal. However, for reasons unknown, the order made no mention of ticket #9185712107.

         ¶ 7 On January 21, 2015, in response to the trial court's order, the city of Chicago filed a complete record of the proceedings to support its position on ticket #918567656 pursuant to section 3-106 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/3-106 (West 2014)). The record included a copy of ticket #918567656, photographs of the street and street signs that were taken on July 10, 2014, and petitioner's affidavit regarding his "personal knowledge about the location of the Honda vehicle *** on July 10, 2014, at or near 5:17 pm." No record was filed for ticket #9185712107.

         ¶ 8 On March 3, 2015, petitioner presented a motion to consolidate and compel the city to file the record of proceedings for ticket #9185712107. In his motion, petitioner argued that both tickets "are for the same alleged violation, at the same location, issued to the same car/owner, and both have decisions issued on the same date, by the same hearing examiner. The only difference between the two tickets is that they were issued on different dates." [Emphasis in the original.] Petitioner stated that the city did not prepare the record for ticket #9185712107, and provided no just reason for its refusal to provide the record when petitioner attached the decisions for both tickets to his complaint for administrative review.

         ¶ 9 In response, the city stated although petitioner was contesting both tickets, he filed only one complaint for administrative review in violation of administrative review law. The trial court's intake order of November 26, 2014, listed only citation #918567656, and accordingly the city filed the record for citation #918567656. The city argued against consolidation because the plain language of administrative review law requires that a complaint must be filed for each matter on review before the trial court, and petitioner filed only one complaint for administrative review of two final decisions. The city also argued that "it is impossible to conclude from the complaint that the citations arise from the same acts or depend on the same evidence." Rather, since the citations were issued 18 days apart, "it is reasonable to conclude that these two citations *** differ in nature, act, issue, or evidence."

         ¶ 10 After a hearing, the trial court denied petitioner's motion to consolidate. First, the trial court reasoned that the decision to consolidate is "discretionary" and in this case, the trial court would not consolidate both tickets into a single complaint because "the nucleus of facts is not the same." It stated that if petitioner had been issued two tickets on the same day in the same location, it might have allowed the consolidation. The trial court acknowledged that evidence of the circumstances of ticket #9185712107 was "not even available" to consider. The trial court also stated, in response to petitioner's alternate request to set the matters for the two citations separately, that ticket #9185712107 was not properly before the court because petitioner did not file a second complaint for ticket #9185712107.

         ¶ 11 The trial court then ruled on the matter before it concerning ticket #918567656. It found that the citation was issued at 5:17 pm, which was within the time period between 4 and 6 pm when the loading zone restriction was not in effect. Therefore, the trial court determined that the city failed to establish a prima facie case and it reversed the DOAH's ...


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