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Johnson v. Saenz

Appellate Court of Illinois
725 N.E.2d 774 (2000)


Facts

Carol Johnson (plaintiff) sued Bertha Saenz (defendant) in an Illinois state court for personal injuries resulting from a car accident. Under Illinois law, the case was subject to mandatory arbitration. Along with Johnson’s complaint, Saenz was served with a summons to appear at the Winnebago County courthouse for the arbitration. Due to a continuance, the arbitration was rescheduled in the arbitration center, which was located in a building down the street from the courthouse. Saenz’s attorney was present at the arbitration, but Saenz did not personally appear, in violation of a court rule. A majority of the arbitration panel decided for Johnson, and an award of $19,500 was entered in her favor. After the arbitration, Saenz’s attorney went to the courthouse on another matter and saw Saenz sitting in a courtroom. Saenz, who had a poor command of English, had mistakenly gone to the courthouse. A court employee had directed her to a particular courtroom and had not instructed her to go to the arbitration center. Saenz filed a notice to reject the arbitration award, which Johnson opposed on the ground that Saenz had failed to personally appear at the arbitration as required. The court agreed with Johnson and barred Saenz from rejecting the award. Saenz appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Colwell, J.)

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