Madison - St. Clair Record

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Fifth District dismisses attempt to overturn decision in favor of plumbing firm


By John Breslin | Feb 21, 2020

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MOUNT VERNON – A woman who disputed a judgment against her in a legal battle with a plumbing company did not deliver any evidence that a circuit court erred in finding against her, an appeals court has ruled.

Reba Lockett appealed to the Fifth District Appellate Court against the decision awarding Darwyn's Plumbing $6,203 and court costs of $192.

In a judgment affirming Madison County Associate Judge Philip Alfeld, the appellate panel concluded, "Defendant failed to provide evidence establishing that the circuit court did not review her evidence, and the ruling of the circuit court was not against the manifest weight of the evidence."

The panel, with Justice Overstreet authoring, and presiding Justice Thomas Welch and Justice John Barberis concurring, was not persuaded by her argument that the evidence did not support the judgment and that the court failed to review all documents supporting a counterclaim.

In the underlying case, the plumbing firm took the defendant to court over an unpaid bill of $9,203 for work carried out to repair a sewer line breakage in her basement. Lockett filed a counterclaim of $10,000, alleging she was billed for services not performed and for damage to property.

"We begin by noting that the record does not contain a report of proceedings from that trial," Overstreet wrote in the judgment. "It is the appellant’s duty to provide a complete record on appeal, including transcripts of the relevant proceedings or, if no verbatim transcript is available, a bystander’s report or an agreed statement of fact."

The judge went on to note that the work order, signed by the defendant, stated that the company was not responsible for any landscaping, dirt removed, added, or settling. She did not complain about the quality of work until the plaintiff brought the bill to her house.

"Although the defendant frames her argument on appeal as the circuit court’s failure to consider all of the documentary evidence she provided, the essence of her argument is that the evidence does not support a judgment for the plaintiff," Overstreet wrote. "Based on the defendant’s own exhibits and the other evidence in the record, and in light of the defendant’s failure to provide a transcript, we cannot say that the court’s finding that the plaintiff performed work on her property and 'excepted' any damage to landscaping, etc., was against the manifest weight of evidence."

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Illinois Fifth District Appellate Court