ABBY BAUMAN and DAVE ANDERSON, Cotrustees of the Fifth Amended and Restated R. Mack Brown Revocable Trust, Dated October 19, 2016, as Successor in Interest to R. Mack Brown, Deceased, d/b/a Golfview Apartments, Plaintiffs and Counterdefendants-Appellants
WAYNE PATTERSON and JOAN SCHNEIDER, Defendants, (Wayne Patterson, Defendant, Counterplaintiff, and Third-Party Plaintiff-Appellee; Dennis Brooks, Individually, Third-Party Defendant-Appellant). ABBY BAUMAN and DAVE ANDERSON, Cotrustees of the Fifth Amended and Restated R. Mack Brown Revocable Trust, Dated October 19, 2016, as Successor in Interest to R. Mack Brown, Deceased, d/b/a Golfview Apartments, Plaintiffs and Counterdefendants-Appellants,
WAYNE PATTERSON and ANY UNKNOWN OCCUPANTS, Defendants, (Wayne Patterson, Defendant, Counterplaintiff, and Third-Party Plaintiff-Appellee; Dennis Brooks, Individually, Third-Party Defendant-Appellant).
from the Circuit Court of McLean County Nos. 10-LM-638,
11-LM-9 Honorable David Butler
PRESIDING JUSTICE HARRIS delivered the judgment of the court,
with opinion. Justice Steigmann concurred in the judgment and
opinion. Justice Turner dissented, with opinion.
1 This litigation began with actions to evict Wayne Patterson
from an apartment. Dennis Brooks filed an action as an agent
of the landlord, R. Mack Brown, and Brown filed his own
action. Thus, two eviction actions against Patterson were
filed in the McLean County circuit court.
2 Patterson in turn filed counterclaims against Brooks and
Brown, alleging they converted his belongings while enforcing
a judgment for possession of the apartment-a judgment that,
after its enforcement, was vacated because of defective
service of process. (Brown died after Patterson filed his
action, and on appeal, we have allowed cotrustees of
Brown's revocable trust, Abby Bauman and Dave Anderson,
to be substituted for him.) The final expression of the
conversion claim was Patterson's fourth amended
counterclaim, which consisted of one count against Brooks and
another count against Brown.
3 Brooks and Brown moved for summary judgment on the fourth
amended counterclaim, and Patterson cross-moved for summary
judgment. After consolidating the two cases, the circuit
court denied the motions by Brooks and Brown, and the court
granted the motion by Patterson-but only as to liability,
reserving the issue of damages for a trial. Thus, it was
"deemed established" that Brooks and Brown had
converted Patterson's chattels, but the amount of damages
resulting from the conversion was to be determined in a
trial. 735 ILCS 5/2-1005(d) (West 2016).
4 After entering the partial summary judgment in
Patterson's favor, the circuit court granted a motion by
him to voluntarily dismiss, without prejudice, his fourth
amended counterclaim. See id. § 2-1009.
Consequently, the trial on damages never occurred.
5 Brooks and Brown (through his personal representatives,
Bauman and Anderson) appeal in the two cases, thereby
generating four appeals, which we have consolidated. We
dismiss all four appeals for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction because (1) a voluntary dismissal renders
appealable only prior orders that are final in nature and (2)
none of the rulings on the cross-motions for summary judgment
were final in nature.
6 I. BACKGROUND
7 A. McLean County Case No. 10-LM-638
8 In September 2010, in McLean County case No. 10-LM-638,
Dennis Brooks, as the agent of R. Mack Brown, the owner of
Golfview Apartments, filed a civil complaint against Wayne
Patterson and Joan Schneider. (Brooks was represented by
counsel.) The complaint was pursuant to the Forcible Entry
and Detainer Act (735 ILCS 5/9-101 to 9-321 (West 2010)), and
it sought (1) possession of an apartment leased to Patterson
and (2) overdue rent.
9 Patterson filed an answer, affirmative defenses, and a
counterclaim. The counterclaim, which alleged conversion, was
against Brown and also against Brooks, "individually and
as [the] agent for" Brown. In substance, it was a
counterclaim against Brown combined with a third-party
complaint against Brooks in his individual capacity.
10 Brooks voluntarily dismissed his complaint, but
Patterson's counterclaim remained pending.
11 R. Mack Brown died on February 8, 2017. On June 15, 2017,
we granted a motion to substitute Brown with Abby Bauman and
Dave Anderson in their capacities as cotrustees of the Fifth
Amended and Restated R. Mack Brown Revocable Trust, Dated
October 19, 2016. The caption in these consolidated appeals
originally listed the trust as a party, but because a trust
is a fiduciary relationship rather than a legal person (see
National City Bank of Michigan/Illinois v. Northern
Illinois University, 353 Ill.App.3d 282, 288 (2004);
Dennet v. Kuenzli, 936 P.2d 219, 228 (Idaho Ct. App.
1997)) and because a relationship cannot be a party to an
appeal, the cotrustees, Bauman and Anderson, are now listed
as parties in lieu of the trust. We also have changed the
caption to reflect that Brooks is sued only in his individual
capacity since we have ordered that Bauman and Anderson,
rather than Brooks, will serve as Brown's personal
representatives. So, Bauman and Anderson are sued in their
representative capacities, and Brooks is sued in his
12 B. McLean County Case No. 11-LM-9
13 In McLean County case No. 11-LM-9, Brown, the landlord,
filed an eviction action against Patterson and unknown
occupants. This case was substantially identical to McLean
County case No. 10-LM-638 except that Brown, rather than
Brooks, was the plaintiff. The complaint was pursuant to the
Forcible Entry and Detainer Act, and Brown sought possession
of the same apartment.
14 Again, Patterson filed an answer, affirmative defenses,
and a counterclaim against Brown and Brooks for conversion.
As in the other case, the conversion was allegedly of
Patterson's personal property that remained in the
apartment when Brown took possession of the apartment
pursuant to a judgment.
15 In August 2011, the trial court resolved Brown's
complaint against Patterson by granting Brown possession of
the apartment, but ...