Where a party appeals an order that did not dispose of all the issues between the parties and no finding was made under Supreme Court Rule 304(a) that there is no just reason to delay enforcement or appeal, the appellate court lacks jurisdiction to consider the appeal.

The 1st District Appellate Court affirmed in part and dismissed in part an appeal in part from a decision by Cook County Circuit Judges Alexander P. White and Thomas More Donnelly.

The underlying dispute in the instant case is an extensive eminent domain matter at issue since 2006, however, the orders at issue in this appeal relate to the withdrawal and then the return of preliminary compensation funds deposited by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

IDOT filed a complaint seeking to condemn a portion of property in August 2006. Peter Kattos was the owner of two trusts who, in turn, owned two parcels within the subject property. After IDOT initiated quick-take proceedings, Kattos filed a petition to withdraw the $3.2 million which had been set aside as preliminary compensation.

IDOT objected to the money being distributed without a precise accounting or an agreement to refund excess funds or retain some amount for the demolition of the buildings on the property.

The trial court held a hearing and then granted the petition to withdraw without specifying precise amounts in an order mandating payment for Marquette Bank, Kattos and counsel for Kattos, Neal & Leroy LLC.

The order also required all withdrawing parties to agree to refund any money withdrawn in excess of the final, just compensation. The money was withdrawn and distributed and shortly thereafter Neal & Leroy ceased representing Kattos.

On April 27, 2017, the trial court entered a final judgment setting the compensation for the property at $1.5 million and ordering the return of the excess $1.58 million which had been withdrawn.

Neal moved to contest the trial court’s jurisdiction. Kattos, meanwhile, sought to appeal the order. Neal argued that Kattos’ appeal would divest the trial court of jurisdiction on the issue of Neal’s personal jurisdiction and the trial court agreed to vacate the order as regards Neal to allow Kattos’ appeal to proceed and found Neal not to be a party to the case, granting their motion to vacate and denying IDOT’s request to file a response.

IDOT appealed. On Sept. 26, 2018, the trial court entered an order holding that the interest on the judgment against Kattos began accruing as of April 27, 2017. On Oct. 24, 2018, he appealed and IDOT cross-appealed.

IDOT argued that the trial court erred in permitting Neal to withdraw preliminary compensation funds because they were not at that point yet entitled to attorney fees and, therefore, should be required to refund excess preliminary compensation funds.

The appellate court disagreed, noting that whether Neal had an enforceable claim on the money was not at issue. The question is whether the court had personal jurisdiction over Neal, a firm which was not party to the proceedings simply because they had been paid by Kattos out of the money withdrawn. Kattos remained responsible for the money.

The appellate court then turned to Kattos’ appeal, where he argued that the trial court erred in starting the prejudgment interest prior to a precise determination of which party owed what amount.

The appellate court, sua sponte, considered the jurisdiction of the appeal before them.

The appellate court noted that the order being appealed did not resolve all claims between the parties, emphasizing that IDOT filed a motion to strike the attorney fees in question two weeks after the Oct. 24, 2019, order. Nor did the trial court make an explicit finding under Rule 304(a) that there was no just reason to delay enforcement or appeal.

The appellate court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction over Kattos’ appeal or IDOT’s cross-appeal.

The appellate court, therefore, dismissed an appeal and affirmed the circuit court’s decision.

Illinois Department of Transportation v. Greatbanc Trust Co., et al.

2018 IL App (1st) 171393

Writing for the court: Justice Aurelia Pucinski

Concurring: Justices James Fitzgerald Smith and Mary Ellen Coghlan

Released: Nov. 12, 2019