Downtown Disposal Servs. Inc. v. City of ChicagoAnnotate this Case
Chicago issued plaintiff, Downtown Disposal, notices for violating ordinances pertaining to dumpsters and requiring Downtown Disposal to appear at administrative hearings on various dates. When Downtown Disposal failed to appear, the department of administrative hearings entered default judgments for costs and penalties. Van Tholen, president of Downtown Disposal, moved to set aside the judgments, alleging the company did not receive notice. At a consolidated hearing, Van Tholen advised the hearing officer that for five years, Downtown Disposal had made several attempts to change its address on file with the city, but the city had not changed its records. The hearing officer rejected the argument. Van Tholen filled out and signed pro se complaints for administrative review, using preprinted forms supplied by the clerk’s office. Attorney Boonstra later filed appearances on behalf of Downtown Disposal. The trial court dismissed, holding that actions filed by nonattorneys on behalf of a corporation are null and void. The appellate court reversed and remanded. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. An attorney’s signature was not jurisdictional and its absence did not render the proceedings null and void. Application of the nullity rule would be harsh since no purpose underlying the rule was implicated and an alternative remedy was available.