The Church of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ v. City of Markham, Illinois

Federal 7th Circuit Court
Civil Court
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
Case Number: 
No. 18-1432
Decision Date: 
January 17, 2019
Federal District: 
N.D. Ill., E. Div.
Reversed and remanded

Dist. Ct. erred in dismissing as moot plaintiff-church’s action under Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) alleging that defendant-City’s zoning ordinance improperly treats religious uses of property on unequal terms with analogous secular uses, where defendant denied plaintiff conditional use permit to operate church in zoned residential area, under circumstances where plaintiff claimed it did not need conditional use permit to operate church in residential home. While Dist. Ct. dismissed case as moot because plaintiff had obtained parking variances that were consistent with use of home as church, plaintiff’s obtaining of said variances was only tangentially related to plaintiff’s main claim that concerned zoning use classifications and not parking variances. Moreover, plaintiff RLUIPA lawsuit was not moot, where lawsuit concerned issue as to whether operating church on subject property was either permitted or conditional use, which remained open question in spite of defendant’s grant of parking variances. Also, Dist. Ct. could not find as merely speculative plaintiff’s claim for damages, since plaintiff could establish at least nominal damages arising out of defendant’s initial efforts to preclude plaintiff from operating church.