Is Service of a Decision on the Plaintiff's Attorney Rather Than the Plaintiff Sufficient to Be Effective ?

In Nudell v. Forest Preserve, 333 Ill. App. 3d 518, 776 N.E.2d 715, 267 Ill. Dec. 343 (2002), the plaintiff argued in the appellate court that service was ineffective because the decision had not been mailed to him personally. The appellate court disagreed: "Supreme Court Rule 11(a) (145 Ill. 2d R. 11(a)) provides that 'if a party is represented by an attorney of record, service shall be made upon the attorney.' Therefore, service of the decision on the plaintiff's attorney, rather than the plaintiff, was sufficient." Nudell, 333 Ill. App. 3d at 522. Although the court did not rule that service on the plaintiff would have been insufficient, that is the logical extension of the court's reasoning, inasmuch as Rule 11's requirement that service be made upon the attorney is stated in mandatory terms. Moreover, in Nudell, the supreme court noted that the decision had been served on the plaintiff's attorney (Nudell, 207 Ill. 2d at 412), and although that court did not specifically address the Rule 11 issue, the outcome of the appeal is consistent with the view that Rule 11 applies to service of the decision of an administrative agency. Accordingly, Nudell appears to be distinguishable because in that case the administrative decision was properly served in accordance with Rule 11, whereas in this case the Commission did not comply with that rule. The Commission has not addressed this facet of Nudell, even though the issue was raised below and the trial court ruled in plaintiff's favor on the jurisdiction question. As such, the Commission has failed to show that the trial court erred in denying its motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.