Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Illinois

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The Supreme Court of Illinois reversed the circuit court's decision granting landowners' motion to dismiss based on section 8-406.1 of the Public Utilities Act, holding that the circuit court lacked the necessary jurisdiction to review the legality and constitutionality of the Commission's administrative proceedings. In this case, the circuit court's sole rationale for granting those motions was its conclusion that the Commission's proceedings were in violation of due process. Because the legality and constitutionality of the Commission's proceeding was beyond the circuit court's power to decide, its answer to that question could not form the basis for dismissing the complaints here. View "Ameren Transmission Co. of Illinois v. Hutchings" on Justia Law

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Monson was shopping in Danville. Walking to her car, she felt her foot hit a piece of concrete, tripped and fell onto the sidewalk, sustaining injuries. Public Works Director Ahrens made final decisions about which sections would be repaired during a project to inspect and repair sidewalks that ended in March 2012. Ahrens considered the concrete’s condition; variations between slabs; the path of pedestrian travel; the area’s intended use; proximity to other structures; and available time and cost. There was no policy addressing these factors. Ahrens could not recall inspecting the section but stated, "we … looked at every slab” and that the section where Monson fell was “either not prioritized” or “replacement could not fit with the allowable time and budget ... I used my discretion.” In Monson’s lawsuit, the court granted the city summary judgment, citing the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (745 ILCS 10/2-109, 2-201). The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. A negligence claim based on a municipality’s violation of the duty to maintain its property can be subject to discretionary immunity under section 2-201 if the employee held either a position involving the determination of policy or a position involving the exercise of discretion and the act or omission giving rise to the injuries was a determination of policy and an exercise of discretion; ministerial acts are not immune. Decisions involving repairs to public property can be discretionary, so a public entity claiming immunity for an alleged failure to repair a defective condition must present sufficient evidence that it made a conscious decision not to perform the repair. Danville has not done so. View "Monson v. City of Danville" on Justia Law

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Perry filed suit under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking the disclosure from the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation of information concerning a complaint against his structural engineer’s license. After the circuit court ruled on Perry’s motion for summary judgment, section 2105-117 of the Department of Professional Regulation Law took effect, which, if applicable, would exempt the type of confidential source information sought by Perry from disclosure. The appellate court affirmed the denial of Perry’s motion to reconsider. During the pendency of the Institute’s separate FOIA lawsuit against the Department, seeking information about complaints against licensees, 225 ILCS 410/4-24 was added to the Barber, Cosmetology, Esthetics, Hair Braiding, and Nail Technology Act, and, if applicable, would exempt the type of information sought by the Institute from disclosure. The circuit court granted the Institute summary judgment. The Illinois Supreme Court consolidated the cases and held that the amendments do not apply to the pending cases. Illinois’s retroactivity analysis governs where a change of law becomes effective during the pendency of a lawsuit. The legislature did not clearly prescribe whether sections 2105-117 and 4-24 should be applied to pending lawsuits, so courts must consider whether the changes are procedural or substantive. As both sections are substantive changes to the law, the amendments apply prospectively only. View "Perry v. Department of Financial and Professional Regulation" on Justia Law

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Erie is a Chicago “Federally Qualified Health Center” (FQHC), 42 U.S.C. 254b (2012). FQHCs rely heavily on federal grants and Medicaid reimbursement. Erie Employees are federal employees under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 42 U.S.C. 233(a). Erie was founded as a project between Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH) and Erie Neighborhood House in 1957. NMH provides financial support and technical assistance, but Erie physicians seeking NMH privileges are required to apply for them. In 2005, Yarbrough went to the Erie after searching for a clinic that would not require insurance coverage. Yarbrough was informed that she would have her ultrasounds done at Northwestern and would likely deliver her baby at NMH. Based upon information she received during the visit, Yarbrough believed that Erie and NMH were the same entity. Yarbrough sued NMH. based on her daughter’s premature birth, alleging medical negligence. The Illinois Supreme Court answered a certified question: A hospital cannot be held vicariously liable under the doctrine of apparent agency set forth in Gilbert v. Sycamore, for the acts of the employees of an unrelated, independent clinic that is not a party to the litigation. Yarbrough sought treatment at Erie but looks to impose liability on NMH. Erie is neither owned nor operated by NMH. While Erie receives some charitable assistance from NMH, it relies heavily on federal money. Erie does not utilize the Northwestern name, Northwestern-related branding, or Northwestern’s trademark purple color. View "Yarbrough v. Northwestern Memorial Hospital" on Justia Law

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Cohen was riding his bicycle on Lakefront Trail, a shared-use path that runs along the shore of Lake Michigan, when his front wheel caught in a crack in the pavement and he fell. Cohen sued the Chicago park district, alleging it acted willfully and wantonly in failing to maintain the path and was responsible for his injuries. The circuit court granted the park district summary judgment, concluding that it was immune from suit under the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/3-107(a), which grants absolute immunity to local public entities for injuries caused by a condition of a “road which provides access to fishing, hunting, or primitive camping, recreational, or scenic areas” or was immune from suit under section 3-106, which immunizes local public entities for injuries occurring on recreational property, except when the local public entity engages in willful and wanton conduct proximately causing the injuries. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed in part. Section 3-107(a) is inapplicable The district is, however, immune from suit under section 3-106. Lakefront Trail is not open to public, motorized traffic and is not a “road” within the meaning of section 3-107(a). The district’s actions were not willful or wanton. Cracks in paved surfaces are unavoidable in climates such as Chicago’s. The risk of injury from the crack was not an extraordinary and unusual risk; there were no prior injuries involving the crack. View "Cohen v. Chicago Park District" on Justia Law

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The plaintiff filed a complaint against Lake County and Highland Park for personal injuries arising out of a bicycling accident on the Skokie Valley Bike Path. The circuit court granted the defendants summary judgment, citing the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (745 ILCS 10/3-107(b), which provides immunity with respect to “an injury caused by a condition of: (a) Any road which provides access to fishing, hunting, or primitive camping, recreational, or scenic areas and which is not a (1) city, town or village street, (2) county, state or federal highway or (3) a township or other road district highway. (b) Any hiking, riding, fishing or hunting trail.” Plaintiff appealed against the city only. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. The Bike Path is not a “trail” as that word is ordinarily and popularly used; the words “hiking,” “fishing,” and “hunting” dictate a narrow construction of the term “trail.” If section 3-107(b) stated that immunity applied to “any jogging, riding, in-line skating, or stroller trail,” a shared-use path such as the Skokie Valley Bike Path would be a “riding trail.” However, the inclusion of the words “hiking,” “fishing,” and “hunting” in the same sentence as “riding” indicates that the legislature intended to apply blanket immunity only to primitive, rustic, or unimproved trails. View "Corbett v. The County of Lake" on Justia Law

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The Illinois Commerce Commission granted a certificate of public convenience and necessity to Rock Island for construction of a high voltage electric transmission line between O’Brien County, Iowa, and a converter station adjacent to Commonwealth Edison Company’s Grundy County, Illinois substation. Rock Island is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wind Line, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Clean Line, which is owned in part by Grid America, a subsidiary of National Grid, which owns and operates more than 8600 miles of high-voltage transmission facilities. Rock Island has never constructed a high voltage transmission line and does not yet own, control, operate, or manage any plants, equipment, or property used or to be used in the transmission of electricity or for any other purpose related to utilities; it has an option to purchase real property in Grundy County. The appellate court reversed, holding that the Commission had no authority under the Public Utilities Act, 220 ILCS 5/1-101, to consider Rock Island’s application because the company did not qualify as a public utility under Illinois law. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. Whatever Rock Island’s motives for seeking a certificate of public necessity and convenience, it does not qualify as a public utility; eligibility for a certificate of public convenience and necessity unambiguously requires present ownership, management, or control of defined utility property or equipment. View "Illinois Landowners Alliance, NFP v. Illinois Commerce Commission" on Justia Law

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Gaither, a La Salle County State’s Attorney special investigator and part of a team (SAFE) intended for “drug interdiction team primarily on Interstate 80,” conducted a traffic stop against each defendant on I-80; each stop resulted in the discovery of a controlled substance. Each defendant moved to suppress evidence contending that Gaither lacked the authority to conduct traffic stops because State’s Attorney Towne failed to comply with 55 ILCS 3-9005(b)’s mandatory procedures in hiring Gaither or that section 3-9005(b) did not authorize Gaither to conduct traffic stops. The statute provides: “The State’s Attorney of each county shall have authority to appoint one or more special investigators to serve subpoenas, make return of process and conduct investigations which assist the State’s Attorney in the performance of his duties.” The circuit court granted each defendant’s motion to suppress, holding that section 3-9005(b) required strict compliance with its background verification procedures before Gaither’s appointment and that the requirements were not met. The appellate court found that the conduct of the SAFE unit and Gaither exceeded the scope of section 3-9005(b). The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. To construe section 3-9005(b) as the state urges would promote confusion between the functions of general law enforcement and assisting a State’s Attorney in the performance of his duties. The State’s Attorney’s common-law duty to investigate suspected illegal activity did not apply because Towne made no showing that law enforcement agencies inadequately dealt with such investigation or that any law enforcement agency asked him for assistance. View "People v. Ringland" on Justia Law

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Illinois High School Association (IHSA), which governs interscholastic athletic competitions for public and private secondary schools, is not a “public body” under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 ILCS 140/2. Founded in 1900, IHSA is a private, not-for-profit, unincorporated association with over 800 public and private high school members. IHSA establishes bylaws and rules for interscholastic sports competition, enforces those rules, and sponsors and coordinates post-season tournaments for certain sports in which member schools choose to compete. Any Illinois private or public high school may join IHSA if it agrees to abide by IHSA rules. There is no requirement that public schools constitute a certain percentage of IHSA membership and no requirement that public schools join IHSA. IHSA does not govern all sports or extracurricular activities of the member schools. It does not supervise intramural sports or most club sports. It is not involved in regular season interscholastic contests among the member schools. The Better Government Association submitted a FOIA request to IHSA for all of its contracts for accounting, legal, sponsorship, and public relations/crisis communications services and all licensed vendor applications for two fiscal years. The trial, appellate, and Illinois Supreme Court agreed that IHSA is a not-for-profit charitable organization and not subject to the FOIA. View "Better Government Association v. Illinois High School Association" on Justia Law

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Stone Street discovered that a judgment had been recorded against its property for failure to pay $1050 in fines and costs imposed by Chicago’s department of administrative hearings for violations of the building code more than a decade earlier. Stone Street sued, arguing that the original administrative proceedings were a nullity and could not serve as the basis for the judgment because it had not been given the requisite notice and had no opportunity to contest the alleged violations before judgment was entered. While notice was never given to Stone Street, a person named Johnson entered a written appearance in the administrative proceeding that culminated in the fine. Johnson represented that he was there on behalf of Stone Street, but Johnson, who died before the litigation arose, was not an attorney, had no affiliation of any kind with the company, and did not live in the property. The Illinois Supreme Court held that, bbecause Stone Street was never properly served with notice and because Johnson had no authority to appear on the company’s behalf, the Department failed to acquire personal jurisdiction over it. The Department’s 1999 judgment was therefore void ab initio and could be attacked at any time, either directly or collaterally. View "Stone Street Partners, LLC v. City of Chicago Department of Administrative Hearings" on Justia Law