Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Sixth Division
LISA J. GILLARD, Plaintiff-Appellant,
NORTHWESTERN MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, PRENTICE HOSPITAL, STARBUCKS CORPORATION, UNIVERSAL PROTECTIONS SERVICES, FRESH MARKET CAFÉ, d/b/a Morrison's, and PREMIER SECURITY CORPORATION, Defendants-Appellees.
from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 16 L 9575 Honorable
Clare Elizabeth McWilliams and Irwin Solganick, Judges
PRESIDING JUSTICE DELORT delivered the judgment of the court,
with opinion. Justices Connors and Harris concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 This appeal arises from a tort action brought by plaintiff,
Lisa J. Gillard, against defendants, Northwestern Memorial
Hospital, Prentice Hospital, Starbucks Corporation
(Starbucks), and Universal Protection Services, Fresh Market
Café, d/b/a/ Morrison's, and Premier Security
Corporation (Premier Security). Gillard appeals the circuit
court's dismissal of her fourth amended complaint and the
denial of two motions to reinstate the case. With the
exception of Starbucks, all of the defendants have moved for
sanctions, arguing that this appeal is frivolous and that
Gillard has engaged in an egregious pattern of meritless
serial litigation. We affirm the orders of the circuit court
and grant the motions for sanctions.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 On September 26, 2016, Gillard shoved a security guard at
Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The legal ramifications of
this altercation are difficult to overstate. That event set
off a series of lawsuits resulting in at least 10 criminal
and civil appeals before this court. So although the issues in
this appeal are relatively simple and straightforward, we
cannot properly address them without a review of
Gillard's litigation over the last few years.
4 A. This Case
5 This is Gillard's second civil lawsuit against the very
same defendants. In the first case, she alleged that the
defendants "harassed, aggressively stalked, and incited
with fear of violence to harm and injure her person and
profession" during various visits to the facilities at
Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Prentice
6 While that case was pending, Gillard continued to frequent
the hospitals' facilities. September 26, 2016, was one
such occasion. That evening, a security guard asked Gillard
to leave after she verbally abused one of his coworkers. An
altercation ensued, and Gillard shoved the security guard in
the chest. In response, security personnel issued a written
notice that Gillard was considered a trespasser and that she
was not welcome on hospital property. The notice stated:
"If you violate this notice you will be arrested and
prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. You will receive
no further warning. Do not enter the land or building of
Northwestern Memorial Hospital." Security personnel also
called the police. Officers of the Chicago Police Department
responded to the call and arrested Gillard for criminal
7 Gillard filed this case two days after her arrest. She
filed a pro se complaint against the defendants,
seeking $300 million dollars in damages for defamation and
intentional infliction of emotional distress. She alleged
that the defendants issued the written trespass notice and
had her arrested in retaliation for bringing the earlier
lawsuit. She also alleged that the trespass notice was a
libelous publication and that defendants' claims that she
committed a criminal battery on a security guard were
"false and defamatory." Gillard attached a copy of
the written trespass notice as an exhibit to her complaint.
8 Before any of the defendants answered the initial
complaint, Gillard filed an amended complaint. The amended
complaint was substantially similar to the original complaint
but only claimed defamation per se. Gillard then
filed a motion for leave to file a second amended complaint,
which the circuit court granted. Gillard's second amended
complaint restored a claim for intentional infliction of
9 The defendants moved to consolidate this case with
Gillard's earlier case against them. Gillard opposed
consolidation on the grounds that the first lawsuit was
already proceeding apace, and that consolidation would allow
the defendants to avoid existing deadlines in that case. She
also argued that although the parties in each case were the
same, the underlying facts, causes of action, and injuries
were different. The circuit court denied the motion to
10 Rather than answer the second amended complaint, the
defendants variously moved to dismiss it under sections 2-615
and 2-619 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS
5/2-615, 2-619 (West 2016)). They argued, inter
alia, that the trespass notice did not contain any false
statement and that the complaint did not allege sufficient
facts identifying the sort of extreme and outrageous conduct
required to state a claim for intentional infliction of
emotional distress count. Certain defendants also argued that
the second amended complaint did not contain any specific
allegations related to their conduct.
11 The case was briefly dismissed for want of prosecution,
but that dismissal was vacated on Gillard's motion. With
the case back on the docket, the court granted the motions to
dismiss without prejudice and gave Gillard leave to file a
third amended complaint. Gillard's third amended
complaint repleaded the counts for defamation per se
and intentional infliction of emotional distress and added
new claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress and
false light. Gillard also increased her monetary demand to
12 Again, the defendants individually filed motions under
sections 2-615 and 2-619 of the Code. Gillard failed to
appear on a series of court dates, and the court dismissed
the case for want of prosecution for a second time. Again,
Gillard moved to vacate the dismissal, and again the court
reinstated the case.
13 Before the motions to dismiss could be heard, Gillard
moved for substitution of judge as of right and for cause.
Another judge heard and denied the motion for substitution.
Nevertheless, the assigned judge then recused himself from
all cases involving Gillard.
14 The case was reassigned to a different judge in the law
division. Once again, Gillard moved for substitution of judge
before the motions to dismiss could be heard. And again, the
motion to substitute was denied, but the assigned judge
recused herself from all cases involving Gillard.
15 Around this time, Gillard filed a tort complaint against
several Cook County sheriff's officers assigned to duty
on the twenty-second floor of the Daley Center. Consequently,
all of the law division motion call judges recused themselves
from all of Gillard's pending cases. Her cases, including
this one, were all assigned to Judge Clare Elizabeth
16 The court heard oral argument on the pending motions to
dismiss and entered an order granting the motions without
prejudice. The court granted leave for Gillard to file a
fourth amended complaint, which is the version at issue here.
17 Gillard's fourth amended complaint sought $3 billion
in damages and the termination of several of defendants'
employees. Gillard pleaded claims for defamation per
se (counts I and II), intentional infliction of
emotional distress (count III), negligent infliction of
emotional distress (count IV), and false light (count V).
18 By the time Gillard filed the fourth amended complaint,
her criminal case had concluded. After a bench trial, Gillard
was convicted of criminal battery and sentenced to one year
of court supervision and ordered not to have any contact with
Northwestern Memorial Hospital except in the case of medical
emergency. People v. Gillard, 2018 IL App (1st)
171121-U, ¶ 1 (Gillard I).
19 The defendants again moved to dismiss the case on section
2-615 and section 2-619 grounds. They argued, among other
things, that Gillard's conviction for battery established
conclusively that any statements the defendants had made
about Gillard shoving a security guard were not false. They
also argued that the fourth amended complaint, like the
previous complaints, did not plead adequate facts to support
any of her claims. The court set a briefing schedule on the
motions to dismiss, ordering Gillard to file her response
brief on or before September 11, 2018.
20 Importantly to our ultimate disposition of this appeal,
Gillard did not respond to the motions to dismiss. Rather,
she filed a motion to substitute Judge McWilliams for cause.
She alleged that Judge McWilliams "is a part of
'ring of conspiracy' by judges, conspiring to deprive
Ms. Gillard of her life and liberty rights as well as her
individual and constitutional rights under the law."
Another judge heard and denied the motion for substitution.
21 Undaunted, Gillard filed a civil complaint against Judge
McWilliams, alleging civil rights violations and civil
conspiracy. Gillard v. McWilliams, 2019 IL App (1st)
182217-U, ¶ 5. Gillard used the lawsuit against Judge
McWilliams as the basis for several additional
"emergency motions" to have the case reassigned.
She alleged that her pending lawsuit required Judge
McWilliams to recuse herself pursuant to Rule 63(C)(1) (Ill.
S.Ct. R. 63(C)(1) (eff. Feb. 2, 2017)). She also alleged that
"[Judge] McWilliams is 'mentally ill,' thereby,