Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fourth Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 16 L 716 Honorable
John C. Griffin, Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE ELLIS delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Burke and Justice Gordon concurred
in the judgment and opinion.
1 Generally, if a party to an action in the circuit court is
sent to mandatory arbitration and does not prevail-or does
not prevail to its satisfaction-that party may reject the
award and demand a trial. Illinois Supreme Court Rule 93
(eff. Jan. 1, 1997) gives that party 30 days after the filing
of the award to file a rejection. Since 2014, by local rule,
the circuit court of Cook County has instituted a mandatory
arbitration program (for certain commercial cases valued at
$75, 000 or less) that allows a party only seven
business days to reject the arbitration award and demand.
2 The threshold question here is whether that local rule,
seemingly in conflict with an Illinois Supreme Court rule, is
thus invalid. We hold that the rule is valid, because the
Illinois Supreme Court authorized the Cook County mandatory
arbitration program and thus approved any deviations between
that program's rules and the supreme court's rules.
3 We further hold that plaintiff, who failed to object within
seven day of the award's entry, is thus bound by that
judgment and may not voluntarily dismiss his lawsuit to avoid
4 We affirm the circuit court's judgment in all respects.
7 Plaintiff Terrell Jones obtained an automobile insurance
policy in October 2014 from defendant State Farm Mutual
Automobile Insurance Company (State Farm). A few months
later, plaintiff filed a claim, stating that his insured
vehicle and personal property in the vehicle had been stolen.
State Farm ultimately denied the claim, based on what it
alleged to be intentional misrepresentations and concealments
made by plaintiff concerning the claim.
8 Plaintiff filed a complaint in the circuit court of Cook
County, alleging breach of contract and bad-faith denial of
insurance coverage. The case was assigned to a commercial
calendar in the circuit court's law division. After the
bad-faith count was dismissed, the case was referred to
commercial calendar mandatory arbitration. On December 2,
2016, an award in favor of defendant was entered. Nineteen
days later, on December 21, 2016, plaintiff filed his
rejection of that award.
9 On December 30, 2016, plaintiff moved to voluntarily
dismiss the complaint. The court concluded that
plaintiff's rejection of the award was untimely, and he
thus did not have a right either to proceed to trial or to
voluntarily dismiss his case. The court entered judgment on
the arbitration award. This appeal followed.
11 The mandatory arbitration system was first authorized by
the General Assembly in 1986 (Pub. Act 84-844 (eff. Jan. 1,
1986) (adding Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 110, ¶ 2-1001A,
now codified at 735 ILCS 5/2-1001A)) and implemented the
following year by the Illinois Supreme Court via the adoption
of Illinois Supreme Court Rules 86 through 95. See
Stemple v. Pickerill, 377 Ill.App.3d 788, 790-91
(2007); Kolar v. Arlington Toyota, Inc., 286
Ill.App.3d 43, 45 (1996), aff'd sub nom.,
Cruz v. Northwestern Chrysler Plymouth Sales, Inc.,
179 Ill.2d 271 (1997). See generally Ill. S.Ct. Rs. 86 to 95
(eff. June 1, 1987). Under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 86(a)
(eff. Jan. 1, 1994), the supreme court may approve a judicial
circuit's request to implement a mandatory arbitration
program and, in fact, may direct judicial circuits to do so
even if they do not so request.
12 The circuit court of Cook County first chose to implement
a mandatory arbitration program in 1990, with the approval of
the Illinois Supreme Court. See Cruz, 179 Ill.2d at
273. That program, governed by part 18 of the Circuit Court
Rules of Cook County, is not at issue in this appeal. See
generally Cook County Cir. Ct. Rs. 18.1 to 18.11.
13 In 2014, Cook County proposed a mandatory arbitration
program for certain commercial cases. In an order dated
September 25, 2014, the Illinois Supreme Court approved the
request of the circuit court of Cook County to implement a
two-year pilot program of mandatory arbitration for
commercial cases assigned to the commercial calendar section
of the law division, where the amount in controversy was $75,
000 or less. See Ill. S.Ct., M.R. 9166 (eff. Oct. 1, 2014).
14 Following the supreme court's approval, the local
rules implementing this program were adopted by a majority of
the judges of the circuit court of Cook County on November
26, 2014, and made effective December 1, 2014. See Cook
County Cir. Ct. R. 25.17 (Dec. 1, 2014). The rules are found
in part 25 of the Circuit Court Rules of Cook County, titled
"Law Division Mandatory ...