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Ammar v. Schiller, Ducanto And Fleck, LLP

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division

December 22, 2017

ESSAM A. AMMAR, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
SCHILLER, DUCANTO AND FLECK, LLP, CHARLES J. FLECK, ESQ., RINELLA AND RINELLA, LTD., JOSEPH PHELPS, ESQ., GRUND AND LEAVITT, PC, DAVID I. GRUND, ESQ., JACQUELINE I. AMMAR, LEVIN AND BREND, PC, JEFFREY W. BREND, ESQ., TD AMERITRADE, INC., J. THOMAS BRADLEY, JR., REED, CENTRACCHIO AND ASSOCIATES, LLC, BRYAN
v.
REED, ESQ., MANDAS LAW OFFICES, LLC, AND LEAH MANDAS, ESQ., Defendants (Jacqueline I. Ammar, TD Ameritrade, Inc, and J. Thomas Bradley, Jr., Defendants-Appellees.)

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 14 L 272 Honorable Larry G. Axelrood, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE HALL delivered the opinion of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Reyes and Justice Rochford concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          HALL JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 The plaintiff, Essam A. Ammar, pro se, appeals from the dismissal with prejudice of his fourth amended complaint against defendants, Jacqueline I. Ammar (Jacqueline), TD Ameritrade, Inc. and J. Thomas Bradley, Jr., president of Ameritrade, Inc. (collectively Ameritrade).[1] On appeal, the plaintiff contends that the dismissal with prejudice was error, raising 10 issues in support of his contention. For reasons set forth below, we dismiss the appeal.

         ¶ 2 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 On May 17, 2016, the plaintiff, pro se, filed a verified fourth amended seven-count complaint against Jacqueline, Ameritrade and the law firms and attorneys that had represented the plaintiff or Jacqueline during the proceedings to dissolve their marriage.[2] The instant appeal concerns counts IV and V directed against Jacqueline and count VII directed against Ameritrade.

         ¶ 4 In count IV, the plaintiff alleged that Jacqueline committed a fraud on the court in the dissolution proceedings by making misrepresentations to induce the court to award her the plaintiff's non-marital property. In count V, the plaintiff alleged that Jacqueline breached the terms of the marital settlement agreement by obtaining an award of attorney fees against the plaintiff and that her seizure of funds from the plaintiff's retirement accounts to satisfy her judgments against him violated section 12-1006 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/12-1006 (West 2012) (Code)).

         ¶ 5 In count VII, the plaintiff alleged multiple claims against Ameritrade including fraudulent entrustment and concealment of material facts, violations of trust and confidence, breach of the agreement between the plaintiff and Ameritrade and the seizing of exempt funds. The plaintiff alleged that Ameritrade violated its duty to protect the plaintiff's retirement accounts when it concealed from the plaintiff the existence of an injunction placed on his retirement accounts, misled the plaintiff in his effort to lift the injunction and transferred the funds in the plaintiff's retirement accounts to satisfy judgments owed to Jacqueline.

         ¶ 6 Jacqueline and Ameritrade each filed a combined motion to dismiss pursuant to section 2-619.1 of the Code (735 ILCS 5/2-619.1 (West 2014)). Jacqueline maintained that counts IV and V of the fourth amended complaint did not state causes of action. See 735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 2014)). She further maintained that counts IV and V should be dismissed on res judicata grounds. See 735 ILCS 5/2-619(a)(4) (West 2014)). Ameritrade maintained that count VII failed to state a cause of action for any of the claims the plaintiff asserted against it (735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 2014)), and its actions were taken pursuant to court orders. See 735 ILCS 5/2-619(a)(9) (West 2014) (claim barred by other affirmative matter avoiding the legal effect or defeating the claim).

         ¶ 7 On October 13, 2016, the circuit court dismissed counts IV, V and VII of the verified fourth amended complaint with prejudice for failure to state causes of action. The court made a finding pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 304(a) (Ill. S.Ct. R. 304(a) (eff. March 8, 2016)) that there was no reason to delay enforcement or appeal of the dismissal with prejudice order.

         ¶ 8 The plaintiff appeals from the October 13, 2016, order of the circuit court.

         ¶ 9 ANALYSIS

         ¶ 10 Jacqueline and Ameritrade maintain that the plaintiff's appeal should be dismissed because his opening brief violates Illinois Supreme Court Rules 341 (eff. July 1, 2017) and 342 (eff. Jan. 1, 2005). We agree.

         ¶ 11 The purpose of the appellate rules of procedure is to require the parties before the reviewing court to present clear and orderly arguments so that the court can properly ascertain and dispose of the issues presented. Hall v. Naper Gold Hospitality, LLC, 2012 IL App (2d) 111151, ¶ 7. The procedural rules governing the content and format of appellate briefs are mandatory. Voris v. Voris, 2011 IL App (1st) 103814, ¶ 8. Only where the violations preclude or interfere with our review is dismissal of the appeal appropriate. In re Detention of Powell, 217 Ill.2d 123, 132 (2005). Nonetheless, we have the discretion to strike a brief and dismiss an appeal for failure to ...


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