Illinois Appellate Court Rules That Substitution of Judge Statute Applies to Plaintiffs and Defendants

In a personal injury lawsuit filed in Cook County concerning the pedestrian-vehicle collision that severely injured 2-year-old Angela Williams, the attorney representing Williams nonsuited the lawsuit in order to refile it with a jury demand. The plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the second amended complaint in April 2017 before refiling it days later, this time with a jury demand.

The same motion judge was assigned to the case. A month later, the defendant, Gregory Leonard, moved to substitute the motion court judge. The judge denied Leonard’s motion based on his interpretation of the Illinois Supreme Court case of Bowman v. Ottney, 2015 IL 119000.

Because the motion court judge thought that if he was wrong, it would hamper the progress of this case, he allowed the parties to file an interlocutory appeal. The issue on appeal was interpretation of Section 2-1001(a)(2) of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, which gives the parties the right to substitute judges once without cause before substantive case issues had been decided.  The Illinois Supreme Court in Bowman, held that the provision should not be used for “judge shopping” by plaintiffs.

The Illinois Supreme Court noted that depending on the situation, a refiled case can be considered a new and separate action, but not for the purposes of Section 2-1001(a)(2).

On appeal, Leonard argued that the Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling in Bowman applied only to plaintiffs, not defendants.

The Illinois Appellate Court in this case found that Section 2-1001 applies to both plaintiffs and defendants. However, no right of substitution of judge will be allowed if this particular judge had already made a substantive ruling.

Angela Williams, et al. v. Gregory Leonard, et al., 2017 IL App (1st) 172045.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling catastrophic injury lawsuits, nursing home abuse cases and automobile accident cases for individuals, families and the loved ones who have been injured, harmed or killed by the negligence of another for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Palos Heights, Palos Hills, Chicago Ridge, Orland Park, Chicago (Andersonville, Albany Park, Lakeview, Kenwood, Jackson Park, Humboldt Park, Pilsen, Roscoe Village, Wrigleyville), Burbank, Lockport, Lisle, Waukegan, Bolingbrook and Batavia, Ill.

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