Remember when you were in school and your teachers had all those rules when it came to writing reports and essays? The font had to be the right size and you needed annotated footnotes and a bibliography (did I just date myself with that one?), among a host of other things you thought were silly. An Illinois Appeals Court has dismissed a plaintiff’s appeal of a judgment awarded to a debt collector because the brief that was filed failed to include a table of contents and other statutory requirements.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Portfolio Recovery Associates v. Moore can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff was sued by the defendant back in 2020 for an unpaid debt. The plaintiff — who has represented herself throughout the proceedings — answered the complaint and filed a counterclaim, denying she owed any debt to the defendant or the original creditor. The plaintiff claimed her account was protected by an insurance product she purchased that should have covered the debt while she was hospitalized back in 2014. A judge granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss the counterclaim, which the plaintiff appealed. The defendant won the underlying collection suit, which the plaintiff added to her original appeal.
While the appeals were filed in a timely manner, their format was not what was required under rules issued by the Illinois Supreme Court. Even self-represented litigants are required to follow the rules, the Appeals Court noted. Those rules include — providing a table of contents, a statement of the applicable standard of review for each issue, with citations, a statement of jurisdiction that confers jurisdiction upon the reviewing court along with the facts of the case which bring it within this rule, a statement of facts that contain information necessary to understanding the case, and an argument that contains the contentions of the appellant.
The plaintiff’s “brief failed to include any of these required elements,” the Appeals Court wrote. “There is no proper table of contents, no statement of the applicable standard of review, and no proper statement of jurisdiction. Furthermore, with but very few exceptions, her brief contains no specific references to the record on appeal and contains absolutely no citation to authority at all. In fact, the argument contained in her brief consists of a series of unsupported, repetitive assertions that we find difficult if not impossible to comprehend or effectively address.”