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Oruta v. B.E.W.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division

December 30, 2016

LARRY ORUTA, Plaintiff-Appellant,
B.E.W. and CONTINENTAL, Defendants.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 11 L 8803, The Honorable James Flannery, Jr., Judge, presiding.

          GORDON PRESIDING JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Reyes concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Lampkin specially concurred, with opinion.



         ¶ 1 This court has dismissed three prior appeals by plaintiff in this same case for lack of jurisdiction. Oruta v. B.E.W., 2014 IL App (1st) 133941-U[1] (Dec. 5, 2014) (Oruta 1);[2] Oruta v. B.E.W., 2014 IL App (1st) 131690-U (Aug. 1, 2014) (Oruta 2); Oruta v. B.E.W., 2013 IL App. (1st) 123541-U (Dec. 20, 2013) (Oruta 3).[3] For the following reasons, this opinion will mark our fourth time dismissing an appeal by the same litigant in the same case for lack of jurisdiction.

         ¶ 2 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 I. First Appeal

         ¶ 4 We provide a description of the prior appeals in this opinion, so that issues do not repeat themselves. We quote from the documents because the events of this case are so bizarre that they would be hard to believe without documentation. Just for example, plaintiff was able to obtain from the trial court an $80, 000 garnishment order on a nonexistent judgment; and a defendant was forced to file a motion to dismiss-multiple times-although there was never any record of a complaint being filed which named it as a defendant.

         ¶ 5 In our first Rule 23 order, dated December 20, 2013, [4] we summarized the case as follows:

"Plaintiff Larry Oruta filed a series of pro se complaints, that were completely unintelligible, against defendants B.E.W., [5] Continental Air Transport, Inc., Budget Avis (Budget) and other parties seeking to enforce a judgment that never existed. Defendant Budget, who is the only party before this court on appeal, responded to each complaint with a motion to dismiss pursuant to section 2-615 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 2010)). Oruta filed a garnishment against a bank claiming he obtained a judgment against Continental on a workers compensation case, and after service of process, filed a motion for a turn over of funds. The trial court granted the motion, ordering the bank to turn over $80, 000 to Oruta in satisfaction of judgment. Actually, the record on appeal indicates that Oruta received no award from the workers compensation case, had no judgment, and filled out the garnishment forms claiming that there was a judgment. The trial court subsequently vacated its turn over order, finding that no judgment existed, and ordered that Oruta return any money he may have received. Oruta appealed the order vacating the turn over order only and, for the following reasons, we dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. After Oruta filed his notice of appeal, Budget, who was apparently not a party to the workers compensation case, prevailed on its motion to dismiss." Oruta 1, 2013 IL App (1st) 123541-U, ¶ 2.

         ¶ 6 In our 2013 order, we observed that plaintiff had filed his notice of appeal before the trial court's January 14, 2013, order dismissing the case with prejudice. Thus, his appeal of the turnover order was an appeal of a nonfinal order, and we lacked jurisdiction to review it for the reasons explained in our Rule 23 order, which we will not repeat here. Oruta 1, 2013 IL App (1st) 123541-U, ¶ 21. We therefore dismissed his appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

         ¶ 7 As for the odd assortment of named defendants, the record reveals that plaintiff initially made claims of overcharges on a rental car against defendant Budget and then sought to add, to the same case, unrelated claims relating to worker's compensation against defendants B.E.W. and Continental.

         ¶ 8 II. Second Appeal

         ¶ 9 Next, plaintiff appealed from an order finding him in civil contempt and ordering him into the sheriff's custody for not obeying an earlier order to return the $80, 000 that he improperly obtained by garnishment upon a nonexistent judgment. Oruta 2, 2014 IL App (1st) 131690-U, ¶ 2. Plaintiff was to stay in the county jail until he purged himself from the contempt finding by returning the wrongfully obtained funds. On May 20, 2013, plaintiff appealed, even though the trial court had already ordered his immediate release from custody on April 24, 2013. We described the underlying facts in that case as follows:

"Plaintiff's claims against B.E.W. and Continental concern in relevant part workers' compensation claims upon which the Commission issued decisions on June 20, 2012.
In case 04WC30529, with B.E.W. as the employee-respondent, the Commission denied plaintiff benefits upon a finding that he failed to prove a causal connection between his present health and his work-related accident of September 3, 2003. On June 28, 2012, the court in the instant case (then pending against Budget, Chase and Sedgwick) granted plaintiff leave to add B.E.W. as a defendant. On July 18, plaintiff obtained a summons in workers' compensation review, in case 04WC30529; however, while its caption names the Commission, B.E.W., and Continental as defendants, the list of parties to be summoned, and plaintiff's certificate of mailing, do not list the Commission as a served party. See 820 ILCS 305/19(f)(1) (West 2012) (judicial review of Commission decision must be commenced within 20 days of party's notice of decision). Plaintiff also filed a complaint naming the same defendants and seeking review of the Commission's decision and purporting to raise claims of misrepresentation and fraud, negligence, emotional distress, and retaliatory discharge. The complaint alleged that the Commission's decision was erroneous but merely named the other claims without any further allegation.
In case 06WC4948, with Continental as the employer-respondent, the Commission granted plaintiff benefits of $383.76 per week for 37.5 weeks of temporary total incapacity for work, plus certain specified medical expenses and interest, resulting from an accident on January 3, 2006. In September 2012, upon plaintiff's motion, the court transferred the workers' compensation case pursuant to its order of June 28, 2012. That same month, plaintiff obtained a summons in workers' compensation review, in cases 04WC30529 and 06WC4948, naming the Commission, B.E.W., and Continental as defendants; again, plaintiff's certificate of mailing did not include the Commission.
As noted in our prior order, the trial court found on December 4, 2012, that Budget was the only properly served and represented defendant and that plaintiff had no default or monetary judgment against any defendant, and the court ordered that default against B.E.W. [sic] was denied, that any previous order requiring the turnover of funds to plaintiff was vacated as plaintiff had not won any monetary judgment, and that plaintiff had until December 7, 2012, to return any funds erroneously released to him. Plaintiff appealed this order, which we found to be non-final as it did not terminate any litigation against any party.
On December 10, 2012, the court ordered that plaintiff appear on December 13 and show cause why he should not be held in civil contempt for not returning funds by December 7 as ordered on December 4. The order noted that plaintiff was notified in person on December 4 that failure to obey that day's order would result in a proceeding for civil contempt. On December 13, 2012, the court found plaintiff in contempt and ordered the sheriff to arrest and incarcerate him until he purged his contempt by returning $80, 000 to Fifth Third Bank. The order recited that plaintiff made misrepresentations that resulted in a judgment of $80, 000 against Continental and thus an $80, 000 garnishment and turnover order against Fifth Third Bank.
In December 2012, B.E.W. appeared, and in January 2013 filed a motion to dismiss claiming a limitations defense: that plaintiff did not sue B.E.W. for his 2003 discharge until 2012. On January 14, 2013, the court granted with prejudice both Budget's pending motion to dismiss on all claims and B.E.W.'s motion to dismiss on all claims. The court also set a status hearing 'for any remaining issues to the extent there are any such issues.' The order did not include a finding there is no just reason for delaying appeal. See Ill. S.Ct. R. 304(a) (eff. Feb. 26, 2010).
On April 4, 2013, the court found that plaintiff continued to be in civil contempt for not complying with the December 4 order and reiterated that he would remain in the sheriff's custody until he paid $80, 000. However, on April 24, 2013, the court ordered plaintiff's immediate release from the sheriff's custody.
Plaintiff filed the instant notice of appeal on May 20, 2013, seeking to appeal the orders of April 4 and 24, 2013." Oruta 2, 2014 IL App (1st) 131690-U, ¶¶ 3- 10.

         ¶ 10 In our order in Oruta 2, we observed that, while an order imposing a penalty for civil contempt is generally appealable, plaintiff waited until May 20, 2013, to file his notice of appeal, and "May 20 is well over 30 days after April 4." Oruta 2, 2014 IL App (1st) 131690-U, ¶ 12 (citing Ill. S.Ct. R. 303(a) (eff. June 4, 2008)). In addition, plaintiff's incarceration for contempt was terminated by one of the orders being appealed. Oruta 2, 2014 IL App (1st) 131690-U, ¶ 12. Thus, we once again dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

         ¶ 11 III. Third Appeal

         ¶ 12 After the contempt proceedings were terminated, plaintiff moved to reinstate the garnishment proceedings, claiming that he had been granted a final judgment. Oruta 3, 2014 IL App (1st) 133941-U, ¶ 5. He claimed that the trial court had reopened the proceedings, and he submitted in support a purported order that the trial court subsequently found had never been entered. Oruta 3, 2014 IL App (1st) 133941-U, ΒΆ 6. Plaintiff then appealed the trial ...

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