This is generally called DWP - or Dismissed for Want of Prosecution. Usually, this comes up on a case management call or a Motion for which the Plaintiff fails to appear when properly notified. If you bring a Motion to Dismiss - and put out proper notice - the Plaintiff will likely appear. I have never seen a DWP motion brought by a defendant - although I suppose it is technically possible.
I hope this helps.
Steven A. Leahy
Please note that the above is not intended as legal advice, it is for educational purposes only. No attorney-client relationship is created or is intended to be created hereby. You should contact a local attorney to discuss and to obtain legal advice.
A court has inherent power to dismiss a case where there has been inexcusable delay on the part of the plaintiff. Even if there have been several years of inactivity on the case and you prevail on such a motion, under Illinois law, the plaintiff would have a right to re-file pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/13-217 (http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=073500050K13-217). That doesn't necessarily mean, however, that the motion should not be brought. You may want to sit down with an attorney to discuss. Good luck.
The other attorneys provided you with good answers. If it is a foreclosure case you're talking about, whether or not you want to bring the motion may depend on what you think is causing the delay. Are you working on a loan modification? Many times, the bank's attorneys will put litigation on hold if you are working on a loan modification, and you might not want to disrupt that process. If they just have gotten lazy and not brought anything to court regarding your case, go ahead and file a motion for want of prosecution, but prepared that the plaintiff will almost definitely show up on the day your motion is scheduled for and ask the judge for an opportunity to continue to proceed with prosecution, which the judge will probably grant them.
The information in this answer is not intended as legal advice nor do I intend to create an attorney-client relationship with any reader simply by answering this question or contributing as a member of AVVO.