The First District Appellate Court of Illinois issued a judgment on August 7, 2015 giving Wentzel Law another win on behalf of its clients.
Wentzel Law represented two attorneys who had represented an individual, Sam Pappas, in a divorce and custody dispute. One of Sam’s two attorneys issued subpoenas for depositions and documents to two third parties, Michael Bousis and Eleni Bousis.
The subpoenas sought depositions and documents relating to interactions and financial activity between Michael and Eleni and Sam’s wife Maria. Michael was the alleged boyfriend of Sam’s wife, and Eleni was Michael’s mother, who allegedly encouraged and financed the affair.
Michael and Eleni moved to quash the subpoenas. A hearing was held and the court granted the motion to quash in part by striking certain requests such as “all correspondence between you and Maria.” The court ordered Michael and Eleni to otherwise comply with the subpoenas.
More than six months later, Sam’s other attorney sent profane text messages to an acquaintance that denigrated Michael and Eleni. One of the text messages, sent at 2 a.m., read, “Ps [sic] tell Eleni and mike [sic] that I’ll see them in circuit court, and make sure his sons see what a gambling fat cheating joke he is and will always be.” Michael and Eleni filed a motion for sanctions against both attorneys arguing that the text messages showed the subpoenas had been sent with an improper purpose, i.e. to harass and embarrass Michael.
The trial court denied the motion for sanctions. The trial court noted that Supreme Court Rule 137 requires a reasonable inquiry. “However, the inquiry required by the rule must be reasonable under the circumstances that exist at the time the pleading is signed, not retroactively with the benefit of hindsight,” the court said. The trial court found that Sam’s attorney did conduct a reasonable inquiry and that the subpoenas she signed were well-grounded in fact and warranted by existing law.
Michael and Eleni appealed that decision, claiming the circuit court erred in denying their motion for sanctions without holding an evidentiary hearing. They argued that an evidentiary hearing must be held whenever a party seeks sanctions based on a claim that pleadings were filed for an improper purpose.
However, the appellate court found that a trial court properly based its determination upon evidence that were matters of record, which justified foregoing an evidentiary hearing. The appellate court also found that the signing of the subpoenas was objectively reasonable at the time they were signed.
At Wentzel Law, we have successfully represented and advised parties in cases of all types.