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Government LawyersThe newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Government Lawyers

June 2009, vol. 10, no. 4

Summary of recent decisions

Illinois Cases

Animal Control Act

Wilson v. City of Decatur, No. 4-08-0566 (4th Dist., April 28, 2009). Reversed and remanded.

Trial court erred when it dismissed plaintiff’s complaint for injuries she sustained when city’s police dog got loose from its handler and bit her. Section 16 of the Animal Control Act imposes strict liability on city as owner of the dog, which is not subject to the Tort Immunity Act.

Civil Procedure

Walsh v. Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, No. 1-08-3167 (1st Dist., March 20, 2009). Affirmed.

In trial for preliminary injunction in which plaintiff alleged that defendant, municipal corporation, wrongfully rejected its low bid for construction project because it failed to sign Project Utilization Plan, as required by the defendant, trial court’s allowance of defendants’ section 2-1110 motion for dismissal at the close of plaintiff’s case is not against the manifest weight of the evidence. Section 2-1110 motion requires the trial court to first determine whether, as a matter of law, the plaintiff has made a prima facie case, which decision is reviewed de novo. If it concludes that plaintiff has made a prima facie case, then trial court must weigh the evidence and determine whether sufficient evidence remains to prove the plaintiff’s case. Requirement of signature on Utilization Plan is material to bidding process and was repeatedly and consistently communicated to potential bidders.

Counties

Adames v. Sheahan, No. 105789 & 105851 cons. (Ill. S. Ct., March 19, 2009). Appellate court reversed.

Appellate court erred when it concluded that evidence was sufficient to find that police officer’s negligent storage of his service weapon at home, resulting in the death of a child who was shot by the officer’s son, was committed in the course of his employment. It was not the kind of conduct officer was employed to perform, incident to his employment, or for the benefit of his employer. Therefore, the appellate court should have affirmed the summary dismissal of plaintiff’s complaint against the sheriff allegingrespondeat superior. In addition, count against gun manufacturer for failure to warn and design defect is barred by the provisions of Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

Burnette v. Stroger, No. 1-08-2908 (1st. Dist., March 30, 2009). Certified questions answered.

Public Defender of Cook County has standing to contest decisions by President of Cook County Board to order layoff of specified personnel of public defender’s office and to order designated employees in that office to take unpaid furlough. Further, the president of the county board exceeded his authority when he sent letters of termination to employees of public defender’s office and ordered certain employees to take unpaid furlough.

Municipal Law

Raintree Homes, Inc. v. The Village of Long Grove, No. 2-06-1105 (2d Dist., April 15, 2009). Affirmed.

Trial court correctly held that non-home-rule municipality exceeded its statutory authority when it enacted ordinance imposing impact fees, for schools and open lands, on builders when they applied for permit to build new residences because ordinances were not uniquely and specifically targeted to the developer’s activity. Further, the trial court did not err when it rejected the village’s voluntary payment defense; because business compulsion forced the plaintiff to pay the impact fees, without protest, under duress; and its finding that the plaintiff did not pass on the impact fees to its customers is not against the manifest weight of the evidence. However, because the village did not commit fraud in enacting the ordinance, or withhold an essential service, the trial court did not err when it refused to impose prejudgment interest.

Public Administrators

Grimes v. Saikley, No. 4-08-0336 (4th Dist., March 10, 2009). Affirmed.

Because public administrator would not have been involved in decedent’s estate were he not public guardian, complaint alleging that he negligently performed his duty as administrator is barred in circuit court by sovereign immunity. Further, legal malpractice claim against public administrator’s attorney was properly dismissed because: attorney for estate owes no duty to estate’s beneficiary; legal malpractice claims cannot be assigned; and complaint fails to allege facts sufficient to conclude that defendant attorney actively assisted in purported wrongful acts or was regularly aware of alleged wrongful acts on part of former executor and her family.

School Law

Garlick v. Oak Park and River Forest High School District #200, No. 1-08-2017 (1st Dist., March 30, 2009). Reversed and remanded.

Trial court erred when it dismissed parent’s complaint alleging that defendant school district violated School Records Act when it refused to allow him to have copy of his daughter’s Advanced Algebra test booklet, containing his daughter’s name, notes and calculations, but only allowed him to review and hand copy a redacted copy of the test booklet. The entire test booklet qualifies as a student record subject to disclosure within meaning of Act.

Taxes

In re Application of the County Treasurer and County Collector of Cook County, Illinois, No. 1-08-0092 (1st Dist., March 31, 2009). Reversed.

After plaintiff purchased taxes for 2000 and 2001 on subject property at a tax sale in 2003 and applied for tax deed, it was not entitled to have taxes for 11 years, spanning years both before and after the years sold to plaintiff, sold at 2005 tax sale, merged into its tax deed, without first redeeming the taxes sold to a third party at the 2005 sale, pursuant to the provisions of section 22-40(a) of Property Tax Code. Therefore, trial court erred when it entered order merging taxes for those years into tax deed.

In re The Application of the County Treasurer and Ex Officio County Collector of Cook County Illinois v. Dunn, No. 1-08-1445 (1st Dist., April 30, 2009). Reversed.

Trial court erred when it granted property owner an equitable redemption of property and refused to quash tax buyer’s petitions to quash tax redemption, because property owner failed to make any payment within extended time for redemption but instead challenged clerk’s computation of estimate. Owner could have taken advantage of the remedy set forth in section 21-380 of the Property Tax Code and paid the estimate under protest.

Federal Cases

Eminent Domain

City of Joliet, Ill. v. New West, L.P., Nos. 08-3032 & 08- 3033 Cons. (4/9/09). Appeal, N.D. Ill., E. Div. Affirmed.

Dist. Ct. did not err in denying defendants-landowners’ request to dismiss plaintiff-city’s condemnation action that had been removed to federal court where said request was based on allegation that certain provisions of National Housing Act and Multifamily Assisted Housing Reform Act precluded plaintiff from using its eminent domain powers to condemn subject apartment complex that contained section 8 housing units. Fact that defendants had entered into section 8 contracts with HUD did not preclude plaintiff’s use of its condemnation powers since said powers did not conflict with any rule of law established by either statute. Moreover, while plaintiff’s use of its condemnation power might reduce number of low-income housing units, neither federal statute contained “clear statement” of national decision to displace eminent domain powers of local entity.

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*These summaries were prepared by Adrienne W. Albrecht for the ISBA Illinois E-Mail Case Digests, which are free e-mail digests of Illinois Supreme and Appellate Court cases and which are available to ISBA members soon after the decision is released, with a link to the full text of the slip opinion on the Illinois Reporter of Decision’s Web site. These summaries have been downloaded and reorganized according to topic by Ed Schoenbaum for Government Lawyers, with permission.


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