Lake Envtl., Inc. v. Arnold, No. 118110.

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtChief Justice GARMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Citation39 N.E.3d 992
PartiesLAKE ENVIRONMENTAL, INC., Appellee, v. Damon T. ARNOLD, Director of Public Health, et al., Appellants.
Decision Date24 September 2015
Docket NumberNo. 118110.

39 N.E.3d 992

LAKE ENVIRONMENTAL, INC., Appellee
v.
Damon T. ARNOLD, Director of Public Health, et al., Appellants.

No. 118110.

Supreme Court of Illinois.

Sept. 24, 2015.


39 N.E.3d 993

Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, Springfield (Carolyn E. Shapiro, Solicitor General, and Linda Boachie–Ansah and Laura Wunder, Assistant Attorneys General, Chicago, of counsel), for appellants.

David L. Antognoli, of Goldenberg Heller Antognoli & Rowland, P.C., Edwardsville, for appellee.

OPINION

Chief Justice GARMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

¶ 1 After years of protracted litigation, Lake Environmental, Inc. filed a motion for sanctions against the Illinois Department of Public Health (Department) and its director, Damon Arnold1 , in his official capacity, pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 137 (eff. July 1, 2013). After a hearing, the circuit court of St. Clair County denied the motion. The court provided no explanation for its decision. The circuit court also denied Lake Environmental's motion for reconsideration on the issue. On review, the appellate court concluded that the circuit court erred by failing to provide an explanation of its decision to deny the motion for sanctions. The appellate court thus remanded the case with instructions that the circuit court provide its reasoning for denying the motion. The Department appealed to this court, pursuant to Rule 315. Ill. S.Ct. R. 315 (eff. Jan. 1, 2015).

¶ 2 BACKGROUND

¶ 3 In 2008, the Department of Public Health issued an emergency stop work order to Lake Environmental based on alleged violations of the Department's regulations committed during an asbestos cleanup job at Scott Air Force Base. The Department also removed Lake Environmental's

39 N.E.3d 994

name from the list of state-approved asbestos abatement contractors. Several months later, the Department dismissed the stop work order proceedings voluntarily, after finding that the violations had been remedied.

¶ 4 In 2010, the Department notified Lake Environmental that it intended to revoke its asbestos abatement contractor license based on the alleged violations that occurred at the Scott Air Force Base job. The director of the Department, upon the recommendation of the administrative law judge, granted summary judgment for the Department and revoked Lake Environmental's license.

¶ 5 In the meantime, the Department filed a civil lawsuit against Lake Environmental seeking monetary penalties for the 2008 violations. The circuit court found that the Department should have sought such penalties during the 2008 administrative proceedings and granted summary judgment for Lake Environmental based on the doctrine of res judicata.

¶ 6 Lake Environmental then filed a petition for administrative review challenging the Department's decision to revoke its license. Lake Environmental argued that the attempt to revoke its license was barred by res judicata because the Department had voluntarily dismissed the emergency stop work order action. Alternatively, Lake Environmental argued that the Department lacked authority to seek revocation based on alleged violations of federal regulations. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Lake Environmental after concluding that the Department was barred under the doctrine of res judicata from revoking Lake Environmental's license based on the 2008 conduct at issue in the original emergency stop work order proceeding.

¶ 7 Lake Environmental then moved for sanctions based on its argument that the Department should have known that its claim would be barred by res judicata and thus that its continued defense against Lake Environmental's petition for administrative review violated Illinois Supreme Court Rule 137. Rule 137 requires that any pleading, motion, or other document filed in court be “well grounded in fact and * * * warranted by existing law or a good-faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law,” and not brought for any improper purpose. Ill. S.Ct. R. 137(a) (eff. July 1, 2013). The rule allows for a court, on motion or on its own initiative, to impose sanctions against a party or its attorney for violating these requirements. Id.

¶ 8 The circuit court held a hearing on the motion and issued an order stating only that the motion was denied. Rule 137 expressly requires that the circuit court provide an explanation of its decision any time it imposes sanctions under the rule. The rule does not address any such requirement when the court denies a motion for sanctions. Ill. S.Ct. R. 137(d). The circuit court also denied Lake Environmental's motion for reconsideration on the issue. Lake Environmental appealed. The appellate court, relying on Second District precedent, concluded that the circuit court must provide an explanation for its decision on a motion for sanctions pursuant to Rule 137, regardless of whether the sanctions are imposed or denied. In the absence of such an explanation, the appellate court found it could not review whether the denial of sanctions was proper and thus remanded the case to the circuit court with instructions that it provide an explanation for its decision. We allowed

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the Department's petition for leave to appeal. Ill. S.Ct. R. 315 (eff. July 1, 2013).

¶ 9 ANALYSIS

¶ 10 Before this court, Lake Environmental argues that the appellate court's decision ought to be understood not as a ruling on the requirements of Rule 137, but as an exercise of the appellate court's authority under Rule 366. Rule 366 provides that the appellate court has authority to “enter any judgment and make any order that ought to have been given or made, and make any other and further orders and grant any relief, including a remandment * * * that the case may require.” Ill. S.Ct. R. 366(a)(5) (eff. Feb. 1, 1994). Lake Environmental asserts that the appellate court lacked a sufficient record upon which to determine whether the circuit court abused its discretion and therefore that it was not an abuse of the appellate court's discretion to remand the case to the circuit court.

¶ 11 However, it is clear from the language of the appellate court's decision that its holding was based solely on its interpretation of Rule 137. The court, in its written decision, reviewed and adopted the conclusions of several opinions from the Second District in which the appellate court has interpreted Rule 137 as requiring that circuit courts provide an explanation for their decisions on motions for sanctions, regardless of whether they allow or deny the motion. The appellate court made no reference to having reviewed the record and found it lacking. The opinion concludes: “Because the trial judge in the case at bar provided no explanation for his denial of sanctions, his order must be reversed and this cause remanded.” 2014 IL App (5th) 130109, ¶ 9, 383 Ill.Dec. 90, 13 N.E.3d 841. Therefore, we find that the appellate court...

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27 practice notes
  • People v. Fretch, No. 2-15-1107
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • March 16, 2017
    ...person would take the view adopted by the trial court. Lake Environmental, Inc. v. Arnold , 2015 IL 118110, ¶ 16, 396 Ill.Dec. 166, 39 N.E.3d 992.¶ 48 The trial court here found that the other-acts evidence was pertinent to defendant's intent in the alleged act of exposing his penis to G.G.......
  • In re Larocque, Nos. 2–16–0973 & 2–16–0987 cons.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • May 31, 2018
    ...of Rule 137 sanctions is also questionable law in light of Lake Environmental, Inc. v. Arnold , 2015 IL 118110, ¶ 14, 396 Ill.Dec. 166, 39 N.E.3d 992, which clarified that a trial court is not required to offer any explanation if it decides to deny a motion for Rule 137 sanctions. Rosenfeld......
  • McCarthy v. Taylor, Docket No. 123622
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • June 20, 2019
    ...governed by the same principles as statutory interpretation. Lake Environmental, Inc. v. Arnold , 2015 IL 118110, ¶ 12, 396 Ill.Dec. 166, 39 N.E.3d 992 ; People v. Santiago , 236 Ill. 2d 417, 428, 339 Ill.Dec. 1, 925 N.E.2d 1122 (2010). Our goal is to ascertain and give effect to the drafte......
  • Father & Sons Home Improvement II, Inc. v. Stuart, No. 1–14–3666.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • March 31, 2016
    ...based upon unsupported allegations of fact or law.’ ” Lake Environmental, Inc. v. Arnold, 2015 IL 118110, ¶¶ 13, 39, 396 Ill.Dec. 166, 39 N.E.3d 992 (quoting Fremarek v. John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co., 272 Ill.App.3d 1067, 1074, 209 Ill.Dec. 423, 651 N.E.2d 601 (1995) ); see also Es......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
27 cases
  • People v. Fretch, No. 2-15-1107
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • March 16, 2017
    ...person would take the view adopted by the trial court. Lake Environmental, Inc. v. Arnold , 2015 IL 118110, ¶ 16, 396 Ill.Dec. 166, 39 N.E.3d 992.¶ 48 The trial court here found that the other-acts evidence was pertinent to defendant's intent in the alleged act of exposing his penis to G.G.......
  • In re Larocque, Nos. 2–16–0973 & 2–16–0987 cons.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • May 31, 2018
    ...of Rule 137 sanctions is also questionable law in light of Lake Environmental, Inc. v. Arnold , 2015 IL 118110, ¶ 14, 396 Ill.Dec. 166, 39 N.E.3d 992, which clarified that a trial court is not required to offer any explanation if it decides to deny a motion for Rule 137 sanctions. Rosenfeld......
  • McCarthy v. Taylor, Docket No. 123622
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • June 20, 2019
    ...governed by the same principles as statutory interpretation. Lake Environmental, Inc. v. Arnold , 2015 IL 118110, ¶ 12, 396 Ill.Dec. 166, 39 N.E.3d 992 ; People v. Santiago , 236 Ill. 2d 417, 428, 339 Ill.Dec. 1, 925 N.E.2d 1122 (2010). Our goal is to ascertain and give effect to the drafte......
  • Father & Sons Home Improvement II, Inc. v. Stuart, No. 1–14–3666.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • March 31, 2016
    ...based upon unsupported allegations of fact or law.’ ” Lake Environmental, Inc. v. Arnold, 2015 IL 118110, ¶¶ 13, 39, 396 Ill.Dec. 166, 39 N.E.3d 992 (quoting Fremarek v. John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co., 272 Ill.App.3d 1067, 1074, 209 Ill.Dec. 423, 651 N.E.2d 601 (1995) ); see also Es......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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