Appellate Court Analyzes Effect of Successive Motions to Vacate Settlement on Time to File Notice of Appeal

March 01, 2022 4:10 PM | Carson Griffis (Administrator)

By:  Carson R. Griffis*

In Parker v. Liberty Insurance Underwriters, Inc., 2022 IL App (1st) 200812, the appellate court highlighted the risks that filing successive postjudgment motions, including sanctions motions, may pose to ensuring that an appeal is perfected.

Jimette Parker and Liberty Insurance Underwriters, Inc., reached an agreement to settle Parker’s lawsuit against Liberty.  The circuit court then dismissed Parker’s action with prejudice, but retained jurisdiction to enforce the settlement’s terms. 

A few days later, Liberty filed a motion to enforce the agreement claiming that Parker refused to sign some of the documents memorializing their agreement.  In response, Parker moved to vacate the settlement and the dismissal of his action.  The court granted Liberty’s motion to enforce the settlement and rejected Parker’s request to vacate it.  Parker then filed a second motion to vacate the settlement, but withdrew that motion a few weeks later. 

More than 30 days after the court had denied Parker’s first motion to vacate the settlement, he filed a motion for sanctions under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 137.  The circuit court denied that motion, finding that it lacked jurisdiction.  Three days later, Parker filed a notice of appeal that listed the denials of his first motion to vacate and his sanctions motion as the orders he was appealing.

The appellate court held that it lacked jurisdiction because Parker’s notice of appeal was untimely.  To begin, the court noted that the dismissal of Parker’s action with prejudice based on the parties’ settlement was a final judgment because it disposed of all of Parker’s claims.  It thus construed the first motion to vacate the settlement as a postjudgment motion.  And once the circuit court denied that motion, Parker had 30 days to either file a notice of appeal or a Rule 137 sanctions motion. 

Because successive postjudgment motions do not toll the time to file a notice of appeal or a sanctions motion, however, Parker’s decision to file a second motion to vacate the settlement did not stop the clock on his time to appeal.  Parker’s sanctions motion and notice of appeal were thus untimely.

*Carson Griffis is an Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Appeals Division of the Office of the Illinois Attorney General.  No comments made in this post are made on behalf of the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, nor do they reflect the views or opinions of the Office of the Illinois Attorney General.

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