Illinois Appellate Court: To Challenge Multiple Administrative Decisions, a Party Must File a Complaint Specific to Each Decision

January 19, 2017 1:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

By Josh Wolff
Research Attorney, Illinois Appellate Court, First District

In Finko v. City of Chicago Department of Administrative Hearings and Department of Revenue, 2016 IL App (1st) 152888, the petitioner, Andrew Finko, had received two parking tickets, one on July 10, 2014, and another 18 days later. Finko contested the tickets by mail. An administrative law judge (ALJ) found that the parking violations had occurred and issued separate orders for each ticket. The City of Chicago Department of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) adopted the ALJ’s decisions.

Finko subsequently filed a pro se complaint in the circuit court for administrative review, listing both ticket numbers and attaching copies of the two DOAH’s orders as exhibits. Two months after Finko filed his complaint, the circuit court issued an order which referenced only the first of his tickets. In response, the City of Chicago filed a complete record of the proceedings to support its position on only the first ticket, including a copy of the ticket and photographs of the street and street signs from the day the ticket was issued. The City did not file such a record for the second ticket.

Several weeks later, Finko filed a motion to consolidate and to compel the City to file the record of proceedings for the second ticket. The city responded, arguing that, although Finko was contesting both tickets, he filed only one complaint for administrative review instead of two, which contravened administrative law. The circuit court denied Finko’s motion, in part, because he did not file a complaint specific to the second ticket. The court eventually ruled on Finko’s first ticket, finding that he did not commit a parking violation and reversing the DOAH’s decision.

Finko subsequently appealed the court’s denial of his motion to consolidate and its refusal to consider his challenge to the DOAH’s decision on his second ticket.

The appellate court observed that the issue was governed by section 3-103 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/3-103 (West 2014)), which stated that “[e]very action to review a final administrative decision shall be commenced by the filing of a complaint” within 35 days of the decision. The court further found that, based on the plain language of this section, a party must file a complaint for review of “a final administrative decision,” and nothing in the section allowed for the filing of a single complaint for review of multiple final administrative decisions. Section 3-103 thus required Finko to file a complaint for administrative review for each of his tickets, and because he did not, the circuit court had no jurisdiction to review his challenge to his second ticket.

The appellate court also rejected Finko’s contention that substantial compliance with section 3-103 was sufficient. The appellate court accordingly affirmed the circuit court’s judgment. 

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