Second lawsuit brought over Kane County circuit clerk fees

  • Thomas Hartwell says the lawsuits against his office are on hold until an appellate court rules on a Cook County case.

    Thomas Hartwell says the lawsuits against his office are on hold until an appellate court rules on a Cook County case.

Updated 8/9/2017 4:25 PM

A second lawsuit has been filed which claims the Kane County circuit court clerk's office has improperly charged and collected fees on non-final court orders.

Officials aren't too worried and are waiting on an appellate court ruling from Chicago on a similar case that was dismissed by a lower court.


Kane County Circuit Court Clerk Thomas Hartwell said he could not comment on specifics of either lawsuit, but added county officials were waiting to see how a three-judge panel rules on an appeal and if the Cook County case is reinstated.

Earlier this year, Raul Tejeda of Gilberts filed suit against Hartwell's office, seeking class-action status for the thousands of people who have paid fees over the years.

Under the state's Clerk of Courts Act, the lawsuit argues, filing fees may be imposed and collected for petitions to vacate or modify final judgments and orders.

The fees cannot be charged with ongoing, or interlocutory, orders in litigation and Hartwell's office has done just that, the lawsuit argues.

The lawsuit states that from 2011 to 2015, an average 107,000 pieces of litigation per year were filed in Kane County and the number of affected people could be in the thousands.

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Larry Drury, the attorney representing Cook County resident Alejandro Valencia in the most recent lawsuit, basically had the same argument as put forth in the lawsuit filed by Jeffrey Berman, Tejeda's lawyer.

Drury did not return a phone message. That case is next due in court Oct. 10 and seeks unspecified damages.

Berman said it was difficult to say whether the second lawsuit could help achieve class-action status. "I don't think the filing of another lawsuit would have a significant impact on our case," he said.

The other lawsuit is next due in Kane County court Sept. 19 and seeks a repayment of fees to all those affected. It is unclear whether the appellate panel will have ruled by that date.

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