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Alwan v. Kickapoo-Edwards Land Trust

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

January 3, 2018

WILLIAM N. ALWAN, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
KICKAPOO-EDWARDS LAND TRUST, CENTENNIAL TRUST, VILLENEAUVE TRUST and DENNIS P. LAHOOD, Defendants. THOMAS RAFOOL, Executor of the Estate of Joseph E. Rafool, Deceased, and WILLIAM N. ALWAN, Plaintiffs,
v.
DAVID COURI, VILLENEAUVE DEVELOPMENT COMPANY PARTNERSHIP, CENTENNIAL LAND TRUST AND PARTNERSHIP, and KICKAPOO-EDWARDS LAND TRUST AND PARTNERSHIP, Defendants, Phillip E. Couri, Intervenor-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit Nos. 07-L-334 08-L-20s., Peoria County, Illinois.Honorable Lisa Y. Wilson Judge, Presiding

          JUSTICE O'BRIEN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices McDade and Schmidt concurred in the judgment and opinion. _

          OPINION

          O'BRIEN JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Plaintiff William N. Alwan brought actions alleging defendant partnerships, Dennis LaHood, and David Couri improperly terminated him from the partnerships. The trial court found that the Uniform Partnership Act (1997) (805 ILCS 206/100 et seq. (West 2016)) applied to the complaint. Phillip E. Couri (Couri), who is representing his interests pro se as a partnership member, argued the Uniform Partnership Act (805 ILCS 205/1 (West 1996)) applied. The trial court certified a question for appellate review regarding which act applied and Couri appealed under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 308 (eff. July 1, 2017). We affirm.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 Plaintiff William Alwan filed a complaint against the defendant partnerships, Kickapoo- Edwards Land Trust, Centennial Trust, Villeneauve Trust, and Dennis LaHood, the partnerships' managing partner (No. 07-L-334). In his complaint, Alwan alleged he was improperly terminated as a partner and denied income, profits, and access to the partnership records. Alwan, along with plaintiff Thomas Rafool, executor of the estate of Joseph E. Rafool, deceased, filed a second complaint against defendants Kickapoo-Edwards Land Trust and Partnership, Centennial Land Trust and Partnership, Villeneauve Development Company Partnership, and David Couri (No. 08-L-20). Both complaints are filed against the same partnership defendants, despite the differences in the names in the captions. The cases were consolidated in the trial court.

         ¶ 4 Centennial Trust ceased doing business in 2013, and Kickapoo-Edwards Land Trust stopped operations in 2014. In June 2015, Alwan moved to disqualify Couri from representing the partnerships due to a conflict of interest. Following a hearing, the trial court granted Alwan's motion and disqualified Couri from representing the partnerships. Couri and the partnerships moved for reconsideration, which was heard and denied. A new attorney filed an appearance for the partnerships and Couri filed an appearance as an interested party as a member of two of the partnerships. Alwan moved to strike Couri's pro se appearance.

         ¶ 5 The trial court entered an order on October 24, 2016, with the following findings: the partnerships were created under the Uniform Partnership Act (805 ILCS 205/1 (West 1996)) (1917 Act); none of the partnerships took affirmative steps to fall under the Uniform Partnership Act (1997) (1997 Act) (805 ILCS 206/100 et seq. (West 2016)); and the 1917 Act governed. The trial court also found that Couri was an interested party and denied Alwan's request to strike Couri's appearance. Alwan moved for reconsideration, which the trial court granted in part. On reconsideration, the court found that the 1997 Act applied and certified a question for appellate review:

"Whether application of the Uniform Partnership Act of 1997, 805 ILCS 206/1206(b), becomes mandatory for all partnerships, including existing partnerships formed in 1976-1978, pursuant to the Partnership Act of 1917, 805 ILCS 205/1 et seq., that failed to take any action or elect to be governed by the Uniform Partnership Act of 1997."

         ¶ 6 Couri sought leave to appeal to this court pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 308 (eff. July 1, 2017). We granted leave. No other parties have appealed.

          ¶ 7 ANALYSIS

         ¶ 8 On appeal, Couri argues that the 1917 Act applies and the trial court erred when it determined that the 1997 Act was applicable. Couri submits that the trial court's retroactive application of the 1997 Act served to diminish vested rights he had under the 1917 Act, thus making the trial court's application of the 1997 Act improper and violative of his due process rights.

         ¶ 9 A party may appeal an interlocutory order not otherwise appealable when the trial court finds the order involves a question of law on which there is substantial ground for a difference of opinion and the termination of the litigation will be materially advanced by an immediate appeal. Ill. S.Ct. R. 308(a) (eff. July 1, 2017). When considering a certified question on review, the court is limited to the question presented. McGurk v. Lincolnway Community School District No. 210, 287 Ill.App.3d 1059, 1062-63 (1997) (citing Thompson v. Walters, 207 Ill.App.3d 531, 533 (1991)). We review de novo questions certified under Rule 308. Merritt v. Department of State Police, 2016 IL App (4th) 150661, ¶ 13.

         ¶ 10 When interpreting a statute, the court gives the statutory language its plain and ordinary meaning to determine the legislature's intent. Hayashi v. Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation, 2014 IL 116023, ¶ 16. Where the language is unambiguous, a court should not read exceptions, limitations, or conditions into the statute's plain language. Id. Clear and unambiguous language must be applied without relying on other aids of ...


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