Illinois Appellate Court Clarifies Jurisdiction Over Prior Interlocutory Orders in 304(a) Appeals

July 13, 2014 10:19 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

In JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. East-West Logistics, L.C.C., 2014 IL App (1st) 121111, the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, confronted the question of whether a party appealing a summary judgment order pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 304(a) (eff. Feb. 26, 2010), could also, in that same appeal, challenge prior interlocutory orders even though claims against other parties remained pending. The appellate court concluded that the interlocutory orders were appealable with the Rule 304(a) finding so long as each interlocutory order was a procedural step in the progression leading to the summary judgment order. 

The case stemmed from an unpaid loan that two companies and their owner had guaranteed. The lender, Chase, sued all three, later substituting the owner’s estate, who died during the litigation. In multiple interlocutory orders, the trial court struck the estate’s affirmative defenses, dismissed the estate’s counterclaims, and ordered it to pay discovery costs to Chase.

Ultimately, the court granted summary judgment in favor of Chase and against the estate on the one count pending against it. Two other counts remained against other defendants, but the summary judgment order included a finding under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 304(a). A few months later, Chase voluntarily dismissed the remaining counts against the other parties with prejudice, and the trial court entered a final order stating that all pending claims between all parties had been resolved. 

The estate timely filed a notice of appeal following the entry of the summary judgment order containing the Rule 304(a) finding, and in that appeal, appealed all the preceding interlocutory orders. It did not, however, file a second or amended notice of appeal upon the entry of the final judgment. As a result, Chase argued that the reviewing court only had jurisdiction over the summary judgment order, which contained a Rule 304(a) finding, and not the prior interlocutory orders, which could be appealed only after the trial court entered a final judgment. 

In addressing the jurisdictional challenge, the reviewing court noted that Chase did not dispute that the summary judgment order with a Rule 304(a) finding was a final order as to the estate, and further, only claims against other defendants had remained. For that reason, the court concluded that it had jurisdiction over the interlocutory orders relating to the estate. East-West Logistics, 2014 IL App (1st) 121111, ¶¶ 25-26 (citing Valdovinos v. Luna-Manalac Medical Center, Ltd., 307 Ill. App. 3d 528, 538 (1999) (noting that an appeal from a final judgment draws into issue all prior interlocutory orders which constituted a procedural step in the progression leading to the entry of the final judgment from which an appeal has been taken). Further, citing Sacramento Crushing Corp. v. Correct/All Sewer, Inc., 318 Ill. App.3d 912, 920 (2000), the court held that the orders dismissing the estate’s affirmative defenses and counterclaims, as well as the judgment order awarding discovery costs against the estate, were steps in the progression to the trial court granting summary judgment. Therefore, the reviewing court had jurisdiction to review not only the summary judgment order, but the prior orders as well.

Recommended Citation: Charles E. Harper, Illinois Appellate Court Clarifies Jurisdiction Over Prior Interlocutory Orders in 304(a) Appeals, The Brief, (July 13, 2014), http://applawyers-thebrief.blogspot.com/2014/07/illinois-appellate-court-clarifies.html.

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