CHICAGO — Saying they feel for the family of a boy who was severely injured when he fell through metal grates into a hole at the Flossmoor Public Library, a state appeals court has nonetheless rejected the family's appeal, as justices said they cannot allow the family to continue with their suit after missing strict filing deadlines.
Sylvia Vines and Sellars Vines, parents of Sellars Vines II, had sued the village of Flossmoor and the Flossmoor Library.
In March 2014, Sellars Vines, 14, left the Flossmoor Library and was standing outside on a ventilation grate with another boy, when the grate gave way and he fell 20 feet. He punctured a lung, fractured his scapula and broke three ribs, according to court documents. He was hospitalized for two weeks and then underwent rehabilitation.
His parents sued the village and library. On Aug. 31, 2016, the case was dismissed after the defendants moved for summary judgment, and that decision was upheld by the three-justice panel of the Illinois First District Appellate Court.
Justice Michael B. Hyman authored the court's opinion. Justices Aurelia Pucinski and Mary Anne Mason concurred.
Hyman noted the plaintiffs missed the Dec. 14 deadline for filing an appeal and didn’t file until Dec. 21. By Jan. 17, the library moved for dismissal, citing lack of jurisdiction and noting the deadline for filing a late notice of appeal had passed.
“That same day, counsel filed a 'Motion to Amend' the Dec. 21, 2016, notice of appeal," Hyman said in the decision. "A different panel of this court denied the Library’s motion to dismiss on Jan. 31, 2017. That same panel, on Feb. 15, 2017, denied the Village’s motion to dismiss and granted the Vineses’ motion to amend."
However, Hyman said the “defendants caught the oversight and took proper advantage of the appellate rules. We have no choice but to dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.”
“We are sensitive to the injuries suffered by Sellars, but we do not have the authority to excuse the filing requirements governing appeals," Hyman said in the decision. "Fairness, efficiency and predictability require that there be strict deadlines for our jurisdiction in civil cases.”
The Vines are represented in the action by attorneys with the firm of Power Rogers & Smith, of Chicago, according to Cook County court records.
The Flossmoor Library is defended by the Law Office of Loretta Griffin, of Chicago. The village is represented by the firm of Chilton Yambert Porter, of Chicago.