Supreme Court Summaries

Opinions filed October 19, 2006


No. 100383 Paul v. Gerald Adelman & Associates

Appellate citation: Nos. 1-04-0189, 1-04-0214 cons. (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).

JUSTICE FITZGERALD delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Justices Kilbride, Garman, and Karmeier concurred in the judgment and opinion.

Chief Justice Thomas and Justices Freeman and Burke took no part in the decision.

This plaintiff, a physician, had two civil lawsuits dismissed by the circuit court of Cook County for want of prosecution. She had once been in medical practice with her husband, also a physician, and they had set up a professional corporation and a joint pension plan. After divorce proceedings were commenced, plaintiff brought suit in 1995 against several defendants who had provided administrative, actuarial, insurance and other services to the joint pension plan, alleging, among other things, fraudulent transfers of assets out of the joint plan into a new pension plan belonging individually to her estranged spouse.

Plaintiff filed for bankruptcy in 1996. Her cases were placed on the circuit court's "bankruptcy calendar," while, in federal court, her cases became part of the bankruptcy estate under the control of the trustee. In October of 2001, the circuit court dismissed the cases from its docket for want of prosecution, an event which plaintiff, and the attorney who had filed the cases, alleged they were not notified of. They became aware of the dismissals after the bankruptcy court released the cases in March of 2003. At this time, files the plaintiff needed to proceed on her claims were still being held by her attorney's former law firm for nonpayment of fees due to her bankruptcy. After the files were released that summer, plaintiff filed petitions in the autumn of 2003 to vacate the dismissals and reinstate her cases. The circuit court granted the relief requested, and the appellate court affirmed.

In this decision, the Illinois Supreme Court agreed with the results reached below, except insofar as the appellate court had reached issues of damages and preemption which were not before it. The supreme court found that the plaintiff had shown due diligence concerning her original actions and her petitions to vacate and had shown that she had a meritorious claim.