Articles Posted in Illinois Supreme Court

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Burge was a Chicago police officer, 1970 to 1993, and served as supervisor of the violent crimes unit. In 1997, Burge was granted pension benefits by the Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago. A 2003 civil rights lawsuit alleged torture and abuse by officers under Burge’s command. Burge denied, under oath, having any knowledge of, or participation in, the torture or abuse of persons in custody. In 2008, Burge was convicted of perjury, 18 U.S.C. 1621(1), and obstruction of justice, 18 U.S.C. 1512(c)(2), and sentenced to four and one-half years’ imprisonment. His convictions were affirmed. Burge has not been indicted for conduct which occurred while he was still serving on the Department. In 2011, the Board held a hearing to consider whether, under the Illinois Pension Code, 40 ILCS 5/5-227, Burge’s pension benefits should be terminated because of his federal felony convictions. Section 5-227 states that “[n]one of the benefits … shall be paid to any person who is convicted of any felony relating to or arising out of or in connection with his service as a policeman.” Burge maintained that his felony convictions related solely to the giving of false testimony in a civil lawsuit filed years after his retirement from the force. The divided Board concluded that “the motion was not passed.” “Burge continued to receive benefits. No administrative review was sought. The Attorney General, on behalf of the state, sued Burge and the Board, under section 1-115 of the Pension Code. The trial court held that deciding whether to terminate Burge’s pension was a “quintessential adjudicative function” that rested exclusively within the original jurisdiction of the Board, subject to review under the Administrative Review Law. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, reinstating the dismissal.Burke View "Madigan v. Burge" on Justia Law

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Public Act 97-695 (eff. July 1, 2012), amended section 10 of the State Employees Group Insurance Act of 1971, 5 ILCS 375/10, by eliminating the statutory standards for the state’s contributions to health insurance premiums for members of three of the state’s retirement systems. The amendment requires the Director of Central Management Services to determine annually the amount of the health insurance premiums that will be charged to the state and to retired public employees. It is not limited to those who become annuitants or survivors on or after the statute’s effective date. The amendment was challenged by members of the affected entities: State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS), State Universities Retirement System (SURS), and Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), as violation the pension protection clause, the contracts clause, and the separation of powers clause of the Illinois Constitution. Certain plaintiffs added common-law claims based on contract and promissory estoppel. The Illinois Supreme Court, on direct review, reversed dismissal, stating that health insurance subsidies are constitutionally protected by the pension protection clause and rejecting an argument that only the retirement annuity itself is covered. View "Kanerva v. Weems" on Justia Law

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Nelson, on behalf of media companies, submitted a request to Kendall County under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 ILCS 140/1, to copy all emails sent and received by two assistant states’ attorneys in January 2010, via county email. The county advised him to submit his request to the state’s attorney’s office. Nelson demanded that the county comply within 5 days of the original request. The county asserted a need for consultation that precluded meeting the deadline. Nelson requested review by the Public Access Counselor, Office of the Attorney General, under 5 ILCS 140/9.5. That office declined to act because the state’s attorney’s office had responded; although some information was denied as exempt, the state’s attorney had received approval for that decision and Nelson had not asked for review. Nelson filed suit and filed another FOIA request, excluding emails that were limited to discussions: with law enforcement personnel concerning pending cases; with defense counsel in pending cases; or with county board members or elected county officials. The circuit court dismissed, holding that the judicial branch is beyond the reach of the FOIA. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. Case law consistently recognizes that the state’s attorney’s office is part of the executive branch, which is subject to FOIA. View "Nelson v. County of Kendall" on Justia Law

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Sheridan Liquors operated with a City of Peoria liquor license. Adnan owned the store; his brothers, Mike and Jalal managed the business, which included a check-cashing service. Mike and Jalal were indicted under the Money Laundering Control Act, 31 U.S.C. 5324(a)(3). To support the check-cashing operation, they withdrew large amounts of cash from Sheridan Liquors’ bank account and, knowing of federal reporting requirements, structured the withdrawal of more than $4 million to evade the requirements. Mike was convicted. Jalal fled the country. The city charged violation of a code section that prohibits any liquor licensee or its agent from engaging in activity in or about the licensed premises that is prohibited by federal law, claiming that the brothers conspired to unlawfully structure financial transactions. Sheridan Liquors maintained that Mike’s federal conviction should not have preclusive effect against it because Adnan was never permitted to present a defense in the federal proceeding. Sheridan argued that its insurance coverage had limits of $10,000 for cash on the premises and that structuring the transactions below $10,000 was not done to evade reporting requirements. The city presented testimony regarding loitering, litter, and potential drug use around the store. The Illinois Liquor Control Commission and the trial, appellate, and supreme courts affirmed revocation of the license, finding that Adnan’s due process rights were not violated. The court noted the 148-page transcript of the two-and-one-half-hour local hearing and that Sheridan had an opportunity to present evidence and defenses. Procedural due process does not guarantee an outcome, but only a meaningful opportunity to be heard. View "WISAM 1, Inc. v. IL Liquor Control Comm'n" on Justia Law

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The Illinois Department of Labor sent Jack’s Roofing a notice of investigation of possible violation of the Employee Classification Act, 820 ILCS 185/3.25 by misclassifying employees as independent contractors. Jack’s provided the Department with requested information. Preliminary determination found misclassification of 10 individuals for eight to 160 days and calculated a potential penalty of $1,683,000. The Department requested a response within 30 days for consideration before final determination. Less than a month later, the Department sent notice of a second investigation Jack's sought injunctive relief and a declaratory judgment that the Act is unconstitutional as violating: the special legislation clause of the Illinois Constitution because it subjects the construction industry to more stringent employment standards than other industries; the due process clauses of the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions because it does not provide an opportunity to be heard and is impermissibly vague; the U.S. Constitution's prohibition against bills of attainder because it is a legislative act that inflicts punishment without a judicial trial; and the equal protection clauses of both constitutions because no other industry is subjected to the same standards when seeking to hire independent contractors. On remand, the court denied relief, finding the Act valid and enforceable. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed in part, rejecting facial constitutional challenges. A procedural due process challenge to enforcement provisions has been rendered moot by the recent amendments to the Act, which must be applied to plaintiffs in the future. The court also affirmed that section 10 of the Act is not unconstitutionally vague. Remaining constitutional challenges to the Act were forfeited. View "Bartlow v. Costigan" on Justia Law

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Two Chicago firefighters suffered duty-related injuries in the 1980s and later died. Their widows each received an ordinary widow’s pension from the Retirement Board of the Firemen’s Annuity and Retirement Benefit Fund of Chicago. The two widows were later awarded annuities available to widows of firemen who died in the line of duty, retroactive to the date of death of each spouse, with interest, because the injuries were permanent and had prevented them from ever returning to active duty. The widows claimed that the calculation of their annuities (based on the current salary of the position last held by the deceased) should include duty availability pay, which is generally intended to compensate firefighters for being available for duty. This type of compensation was created in the 1990s, after these firemen’s accidents, and neither ever received it. Their argument, based on Pension Code language added in 2004, was rejected by the Board and the trial court. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the denial. If duty availability pay may be used for pension calculation, it must be pay that was actually received by the firemen. View "Hooker v. Ret. Bd. of the Firemen's Annuity & Benefit Fund of Chicago" on Justia Law

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Hartney, a fuel oil retailer with a home office in Forest View, in Cook County, accepted purchase orders in the Village of Mark, in Putnam County, through a business with which it contracted. No Hartney employees were involved there. By so structuring sales, Hartney avoided liability for retail occupation taxes of Cook County, Forest View, and the Regional Transportation Authority. Hartney’s interpretation of the law was consistent with regulations published at the time. However, The Illinois Department of Revenue determined, through audit, that Hartney’s sales were attributable to the company’s Forest View office, rather than the Mark location reported by the company, and issued a notice of tax liability. Hartney paid penalties of $23,111,939 under protest and filed suit. The court agreed that the bright-line test for the situs of sale is where purchase orders are accepted. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court, court disagreed. The court found the “Jurisdictional Questions” regulations of the Administrative Code inconsistent with the statutes and case law. The legislature has not adopted a single-factor test for the situs of retail activity. The court’s own precedent calls for fact-intensive inquiry where there is a composite of many activities, and the legislature, by consistently employing the “business of selling” language, has effectively invoked that precedent. The Department of Revenue must abate Hartney’s penalties and tax liability for the relevant period because Hartney’s actions were consistent with its regulations in effect at the time. View "Hartney Fuel Oil Co. v. Village of Forest View" on Justia Law

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The Village of Bement, Piatt County, has a five-year contract, under which E.R.H. Enterprises operates and maintains the Village’s potable water facility and parts of its water delivery infrastructure. The Department of Labor issued a subpoena to E.R.H.’s attorney seeing employment records as part of an investigation under the Prevailing Wage Act, 820 ILCS 130/0.01. E.R.H. asserted that it was exempt from the Act as a public utility. The trial court ruled in favor of the Department and ordered E.R.H. to provide the requested documents, noting that the company was not regulated by the Illinois Commerce Commission. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the appellate court, finding that E.R.H. is simply an outside contractor. View "People v. IL Dep't of Labor" on Justia Law

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In 1998 Prazen retired as superintendent of the City of Peru electrical department. He had more than 27 years of service and purchased five years of age-enhancement credit. Prazen had an unincorporated electrical business, which was incorporated just before he retired. Before he retired, the City entered into an agreement with his corporation for operation of the City’s electrical department, including management and supervision. First year compensation under the contract was about $7,000 higher than Prazen’s prior annual salary. The relationship lasted until 2009, when the corporation was dissolved. In 2010, the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund notified Prazen that, after participating in the early retirement incentive plan, he had violated the statutory prohibitions (40 ILCS 5/7-141.1(g)) against returning to work. The Fund recalculated his years of service as 27 and claimed he should repay $307,100 as a statutory forfeiture. The circuit court agreed. The appellate court reversed and the Illinois Supreme Court agreed. The work done between 1999 and 2009 was done by a separate corporate entity and was not precluded by statute. If the legislature had wanted to specifically prohibit this, it could have said so. The statute does not show intent to prohibit outsourcing to a retired employee’s corporation and the legislature did not grant the Trustees of the Fund authority to find that a corporation was a “guise.” The court noted that, earlier in the period under consideration, the Board had expressed the view that what the arrangement was p View "Prazen v. Shoop" on Justia Law

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Boyd, a female bartender filed a complaint with the Cook County Commission on Human Rights alleging that she was sexually harassed by her employer, Crittenden. The Commission entered awarded her $41,670 in lost wages, $5,000 in compensatory damages, $5,000 in punitive damages, and attorney fees and costs. The circuit court affirmed. The appellate court upheld the order and grant of compensatory damages, but reversed the award of punitive damages. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. Although Cook County is a home rule unit, and although home rule units may authorize their local units and boards to award punitive damages, the ordinance at issue does not expressly authorize punitive damages. The Commission is an administrative agency, with no common law powers. Its authority is limited to what is granted in the ordinance. Punitive damages are not favored in the law and more protections are afforded in litigation than are available in administrative proceedings. View "Crittenden v. Cook Cnty. Comm'n on Human Rights" on Justia Law