Madison - St. Clair Record

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

St. Clair County circuit clerk opposes summary judgment, says duty to mail court orders does not exist

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Mar 14, 2018

St. Clair County Circuit Clerk Kahalah Clay says a man has “morphed” her duty to provide a docket sheet into a duty to mail court orders in a suit alleging she failed to notify him that his suit against the City of Belleville had been dismissed.

St. Clair County Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson dismissed the complaint on Feb. 20, but gave plaintiff Larry Price 30 days to re-file his complaint.

Gleeson set the case for status conference on April 30 at 9 a.m.


Clay filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on Jan. 5 through attorneys with Becker Hoerner Thompson & Ysursa PC in Belleville, arguing that she was not required to furnish copies of the prior ruling to Price’s attorney.

Price filed a response to Clay's motion to dismiss on Feb. 5.

He argues that Clay’s assertion that she was served with his complaint on Dec. 11 is in contrast to the Sheriff’s log, which shows that she was served on Dec. 7. Therefore, he says her motion to dismiss lacks credibility.

Price argues that a question arises as to whether Clay’s response was untimely filed.

“The Defendant should be required to explain WHY the Plaintiff’s November 27, 2017, summons was withheld for 8 days by the Circuit Clerk’s before being released to the Sheriff for servicing?” the response states.

Price also argues that Clay is “attempting to paint a ‘Hold Harmless’ picture that a nexus does not exist with what the Defendant thinks her duties to the public are, vs. what is required by law and other rules.”

Calling Clay’s filings “fabricated,” Price argues that she continues to fail to perform her duties. 

“By intentionally withholding the Plaintiff’s Summons from the Sheriff for 8 days and falsifying a summons receipt date to the Court, Plaintiff opines the Defendant has discredited herself with this Court,” the response states.

“Attorneys for both parties in legal matters are reliant upon their clients being truthful. Here we have a situation where the Defendant’s misstated in her Motion to Dismiss the day she was served with the Plaintiff’s lawsuit. In turn, the falsified date has been filed with the Court in an endeavor to secure a favorable ruling for the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss,” it continues.

In the alternative, Price seeks summary judgment “based upon the Defendant’s documented negligence and unethical conduct.”

“Plaintiff points out that the Circuit Clerk has ignored her responsibility of keeping the Plaintiff informed as to the progress of his Pro Se lawsuit against the Defendant while intentionally delaying the servicing of his summons by the Sheriff,” the motion states.

Clay filed a response in opposition to Price’s motion for summary judgment on Feb. 14, arguing that her duties are ministerial.

Citing Illinois statute, Clay argues that her duties include attending court sessions, preserving files, keeping and preserving records, among other duties as required by law or court orders.

Clay states that Price “somehow morphs” the circuit clerk’s duty to maintain a daily docket sheet into a duty to mail individual litigants copies of court orders.

“These two concepts are entirely different,” the response states. “A daily docket sheet, commonly available in every court room, lists the cases scheduled for that courtroom’s morning or afternoon docket. Mailing individual litigants copies of their court orders is an entirely separate task, and not one that Circuit Clerk’s Office is required to do by any Twentieth Judicial Circuit Local Rule.”

Price filed a petition for relief against Clay on Nov. 27.

He argues that Clay failed to notify him or his counsel that a prior complaint against the City of Belleville had been dismissed by former circuit judge Robert LeChien on Aug. 2, 2017. LeChien later died on Aug. 31. 

As a result, Price claims Clay’s negligence caused him to pay more than $1,800 in additional attorney fees that were needed to file inquiries and motions to the court “that would not have been necessary had the Circuit Clerk’s Office performed the duties they are mandated by law to perform.”

Price explains that he filed a complaint against the City of Belleville following a Dec. 21, 2016, FOIA request seeking “access to review the plans and specifications that was approved by the City of Belleville for the issuance of the City’s Building Permit to the Holfbraugaus Project” and “any changes that were made to the approved construction after the City issued the Building Permit.” Specifically, Price alleges that “the City failed to timely respond to the FOIA request” and that “the City has asserted an invalid exemption to the FOIA”

LeChien granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss on Aug. 2. 

“Of course, considering that the subject project is a private building, such a denial is appropriate …” LeChien held. 

LeChien explained that projects not constructed or developed in whole or in part with public funds are exempted from FOIA

The plaintiff argueed that Belleville's extension of sewer services to the general project site somehow affects the exemption

“The fact remains that, because it is not a redevelopment project cost for which tax-increment financing incentives are provided, the subject building is not constructed with public funds,” LeChien wrote. “Taken to its logical extreme, Plaintiff’s contention that the extension of infrastructure such as sewer service re-defines a private project as public would subject construction plans of every home in various residential developments across St. Clair County to public disclosure, which is clearly an absurd result that this Court is required to avoid in statutory interpretation.”

However, Price and his counsel in the case at issue, Eric M. Rhein of Belleville, alleged they did not learn about the order dismissing the suit until Oct. 24 through an email from defense counsel.

Price claims the St. Clair County Circuit Clerk failed to send or mail the order to him or Rhein.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 17-L-695

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Organizations in this Story

Becker, Hoerner, Thompson & Ysursa St. Clair County Circuit Court St. Clair County Circuit Court Clerk