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Peraino v. County of Winnebago

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

March 30, 2018

ROBERT PERAINO, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
THE COUNTY OF WINNEBAGO; THE WINNEBAGO COUNTY HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT; JOSEPH A. VANDERWERFF, the Winnebago County Engineer; THE ROCKFORD TOWNSHIP HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT; DANIEL P. CONNESS, the Rockford Township Highway Commissioner; THE VILLAGE OF CHERRY VALLEY; THE VILLAGE OF CHERRY VALLEY PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT; and CHUCK FREEMAN, the Village of Cherry Valley Public Works Director, Defendants The County of Winnebago, Defendant-Appellee.

          Rehearing denied April 30, 2018

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County, No. 13-L-169; the Hon. J. Edward Prochaska, Judge, presiding.

          W. Randal Baudin, of Crystal Lake, for appellant.

          Joseph P. Bruscato, State's Attorney, of Rockford (John P. Giliberti, Assistant State's Attorney, of counsel), for appellee.

          Panel JUSTICE SPENCE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Jorgensen and Schostok concurred in the judgment and opinion..

          OPINION

          SPENCE JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Plaintiff, Robert Peraino, attempted to electronically file a motion to reconsider shortly before midnight on the day it was due, but he failed to timely upload the motion, and it was file-stamped at 12:03 a.m. the next day. Plaintiff then sought to have the motion to reconsider deemed filed on the due date based on a local court rule, but the trial court denied his request. Plaintiff appeals from this ruling. However, we conclude that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to make such a ruling and that we also lack jurisdiction to consider the merits of this appeal. We therefore vacate the trial court's ruling and dismiss plaintiff's motion seeking to backdate the motion to reconsider. See People v. Bailey, 2014 IL 115459, ¶¶ 28-29.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 On June 12, 2013, plaintiff filed a complaint against defendant, the County of Winnebago (County), and others who were later voluntarily dismissed. He alleged that he was injured in a motorcycle crash caused by a defective roadway.

         ¶ 4 The County moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted the motion on December 2, 2016. A motion to reconsider would have been due on January 3, 2017, because the thirtieth day after the order was a Sunday and the following day was a court holiday. See 735 ILCS 5/2-1203(a) (West 2016); 5 ILCS 70/1.11 (West 2016).

         ¶ 5 Plaintiff electronically filed a motion to reconsider that was file-stamped on January 4, 2017.

         ¶ 6 On January 5, 2017, plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file his motion to reconsider nunc pro tunc to January 3, 2017. He alleged that, due to an illness and deadlines for other cases, his attorney was not able to complete the motion to reconsider until 11:55 p.m. on January 3, 2017. He alleged that, during the e-filing process, the I2File website would not upload the motion, and the motion was not considered accepted or filed by the system until 12:03 a.m. on January 4, 2017. Plaintiff cited local court rule 22.01, and specifically rule 22.01(N), titled "SYSTEM OR USER ERRORS, " which provides, inter alia, that "[i]f the electronic filing is not filed with the Clerk because of *** technical problems experienced by the filer, *** the Court may upon good cause shown enter an order permitting the document to be subsequently filed effective as of the date filing was first attempted." 17th Judicial Cir. Ct. R. 22.01(N) (July 25, 2016). Plaintiff also cited Illinois Supreme Court Rule 183 (eff. Feb. 16, 2011). Plaintiff attached to the motion the affidavit of a paralegal at his attorney's office, who described her attempt to upload the motion beginning at about 11:58 p.m.

         ¶ 7 The County filed a response in opposition, arguing against the merits of plaintiff's motion for leave.

         ¶ 8 The trial court denied plaintiff's motion on April 20, 2017. It stated as follows. The motion to reconsider did not get filed before 12 a.m. on January 4, 2017, due to user error by plaintiff through his attorney. The attorney's assistant might have had some difficulty understanding what she needed to do in terms of uploading documents, but there were no technical defects in the software or electronic filing system. Local court rule 22.01(N)(2) did not define "technical problems." However, the local rules about e-filing were modeled on the Supreme Court of Illinois Electronic Filing User Manual (Manual) (see Ill. S.Ct., M.R. 18368 (eff. Feb. 3, 2014)). The Manual included the term "technical failure, " which excluded a failure of the user's equipment. The trial court did not think that "technical problems" included a user problem because that definition would be overly broad and would open up a Pandora's box of similar motions. "[U]nder the facts of this case, there ...


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