Larry Thomas received $12,000 as his share of the settlement of a personal injury lawsuit. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services placed on lien against the settlement based on past due support he owed. Thomas argued that his settlement was exempt pursuant to section 12-1001(h)(4) of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/12- 1001(h)(4) (West 2012)). The trial court found in favor of the lien and the Appellate Court has affirmed that judgment.
At hearing, Thomas argued that he had sued the city for personal injury, and that 735 ILCS 5/12-1001 exempts $15,000.00 of the proceeds of a lawsuit for bodily personal injury from collection or debts. Thomas presented a copy of a Release of Settlement Agreement which showed he was named as a plaintiff in a civil law suit. However, nothing in that document indicates that the purpose of the settlement payout was for personal injury to him. Under the Illinois Administrative Code, Thomas bore the burden of establishing a defense to the administrative lien. It was ruled that he had not asserted a valid defense to the administrative lien under the Illinois Administrative Code.
What I found interesting however, is that Thomas would pay (presumably) an attorney to fight the initial hearing, and then file an appeal when he lost, all to get out of having to pay his child support. It surely cost more to fight it, than to pay the $15,000 he had already been ordered to pay. I’ve been a lawyer long enough to know that there are two sides to every story, but aside from a lawyer just wanting to attack the statute to prove it is wrong, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around someone who bothers to go to this extent to avoid paying his child support. I know, I shouldn’t be surprised.