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No Specificity Required for Post-Trial Motion in Non-Jury Case

01 Jan 2003

The Supreme Court held that neither the Code of Civil Procedure, nor the Supreme Court Rules impose a specificity requirement for a timely filed post-trial motion in a non-jury case. Kingbrook, Inc. v. Pupurs et al., No. 92162, 2002 Ill. LEXIS 940 (Oct. 18, 2002). In Kingbrook, the plaintiff timely filed a bare bonesĀ motion to reconsider after the defendant obtained summary judgment. The motion contained no substance at all and simply requested that the summary judgment ruling be reconsidered. It was denied. On appeal, the Illinois Appellate Court dismissed the appeal holding that the notice of appeal was not timely filed because the motion to reconsider was insufficient to qualify as a post-trial motion that would toll the time for filing a notice of appeal. However, the Supreme Court reversed. Looking to the plain language of Section 2-1303(a) and Rule 303(a), the Court reasoned that no language addresses the contents of the post-trial motion in a non-jury case in direct contrast to the provisions governing post-trial motions in jury cases, which do set forth certain required elements. The Court rejected a body of appellate court decisions that had imposed a specificity requirement. The Court concluded that the Supreme Court precedent upon which the appellate decisions relied was not controlling one decision involved dicta and the other a post-trial motion in a jury case. The Court acknowledged problems with allowing non-specific post-trial motions that may be filed merely for delay, but reasoned that litigants should not be required to guess about the amount of specificity of a post-trial motion. In a special concurring opinion, Justice Garman urged the legislature to amend the statute to resolve the dilemma.

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