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Castaneda v. Ingram

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division

March 16, 2018

ROSA CASTANEDA, as Independent Administrator of the Estate of Rufino H. Sanchez, Deceased;
v.
WILLIAM INGRAM and M&M TRANSPORT SERVICES, INC., Defendants-Appellees and JESUS SANCHEZ, as Special Administrator of the Estate of Rufino H. Sanchez, Deceased, Plaintiffs, Rosa Castaneda, Plaintiff-Appellant.

          Rehearing denied May 17, 2018

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 13-L-5241; the Hon. James P. McCarthy, Judge, presiding.

          Dean J. Caras, of Caras Law Group, of Chicago, for appellant.

          James P. McCarthy and Patricia M. Kelly, of Gunty & McCarthy, and Paul V. Esposito and Melinda S. Kollross, of Clausen Miller P.C., both of Chicago, for appellees.

          Panel JUSTICE HALL delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Lampkin and Rochford concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          HALL JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 This is an appeal from a circuit court order denying a posttrial motion for a new trial on a survival claim following an unfavorable jury verdict on the estate's survival action brought against defendants William Ingram and M&M Transport Services, Inc., pursuant to the Survival Act (755 ILCS 5/27-6 (West 2012)). The survival claim arose out of a fatal rear-end collision where a truck driven by Ingram crashed into the rear end of an SUV driven by decedent, while the SUV was stopped in traffic.

         ¶ 2 The appeal raises a number of arguments seeking to show that the circuit court erred in denying the motion for a new trial on the survival claim. However, for the reasons that follow, we find that we lack jurisdiction over this appeal and dismiss it.

         ¶ 3 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 4 On May 20, 2013, the decedent's son, Jesus Sanchez, as special administrator of his father's estate, filed suit against defendants in the law division of the circuit court of Cook County, seeking relief under the Wrongful Death Act (740 ILCS 180/0.01 et seq. (West 2012)) and the Survival Act (755 ILCS 5/27-6 (West 2012)) (case No. 2013 L 5241). Sanchez had not yet opened a probate estate, and the law division appointed him special administrator. Defendants initially denied liability, but on June 16, 2016, they admitted liability and agreed to try the case on damages only.

         ¶ 5 In July 2016, a probate estate for the decedent was opened (case No. 2016 P 4266), and on July 14, 2016, Rosa Castaneda was appointed independent administrator of the estate to prosecute the survival claim.[1] Sanchez prosecuted the wrongful death claim as special administrator.[2]

         ¶ 6 On July 26, 2016, a jury returned a verdict in favor of estate on the wrongful death action, but returned a verdict in favor of defendants on the survival claim. The circuit court law division entered judgments on the jury verdicts.

         ¶ 7 Castaneda died on August 15, 2016, before the filing of any posttrial motions. On August 24, 2016, Castaneda's attorney filed a posttrial motion in her name, as independent administrator, requesting a new trial on the survival claim. However, the attorney failed to report Castaneda's death to the circuit court of the law division or to defendants. On December 6, 2016, the circuit court denied the posttrial motion.

         ¶ 8 On January 5, 2017, Castaneda's attorney filed a notice of appeal in her name as independent administrator, asking our court to reverse the circuit court's order of December 6, 2016. Once again, Castaneda's attorney failed to ...


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