“The Devil is in the Details”: Midwest Commercial Funding v. Kelly, No. 2023 IL 128260.
By Melinda S. Kollross
This recent Illinois Supreme Court decision issued on March 23, 2023, illustrates how bad things can happen when parties don’t pay attention to the “details” that make up a large part of the practice of law.
This case concerned a dispute between two judgment creditors over lien priority. Midwest Commercial Funding and Heather Williams were each creditors of the notorious R. Kelly and served citations to discover assets on Sony Music Holdings which paid music royalties to Kelly.
Midwest served its citation on Sony before Williams did, and Sony received Midwest’s citation before receiving that sent by Williams. The problem was that Midwest emailed its citation to Sony, and that method of emailing a citation was not authorized by any rule or statute regarding citations. Williams followed the law and sent her citation by registered mail, return receipt requested, through the United States Postal Service (USPS).
The consequences of Midwest failing to do things the right way were plain to the Court: “The electronic service by Midwest on August 19, 2020, was not an authorized method of service in a citation proceeding. As provided by rule and statute, Williams’s service of citation was received by Sony on August 24, 2020, as established by the USPS return receipt. Williams’s lien is entitled to priority.”
Learning Point: Midwest shows that no matter how many years you might have practiced in a certain area, it’s still “good practice” to review the rules and statutes pertinent to the work you are about to perform. Had Midwest reviewed the rules and law regarding citations, it would have succeeded, and its lien would have been entitled to priority.