The circuit court abused its discretion when, acting sua sponte, dismissed with prejudice the plaintiff’s personal injury action when neither she nor her attorney appeared for trial.
After granting previous continuances, the circuit court advised the parties that the matter would not be continued further except for good cause shown. But prior to the trial date, the plaintiff’s counsel became very ill, sought another continuance on that basis, and advised the defendant as much. The plaintiff provided the court with details of counsel’s illness, including vomiting and diarrhea, his medical treatment, and his communications with opposing counsel. He was unable to ingest food or water or to stand for longer than 5 minutes.
After dismissal, the circuit court’s decision to deny the motion for reconsideration even after learning the nature of counsel’s illness was unduly harsh. The record contains no indication that counsel’s illness was feigned or that a continuance was sought solely to delay or evade a trial. And counsel’s efforts to communicate his medical condition to the appellees and the circuit court are undisputed.
Reversed and remanded.