Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Illinois

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In a 2004 Chicago altercation, Vanecko punched Koschman in the face, causing Koschman to fall back and strike his head on the sidewalk. Koschman died from his injuries. In 2004-2011, law enforcement investigated. No charges were filed. In 2011, the Koschman family sought the appointment of a special prosecutor, alleging that Vanecko was a nephew of then-Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and a grandson of former Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley. In 2012, the court appointed Webb as special prosecutor, 55 ILCS 5/3-9008. In 2012, on petition of the special prosecutor, the criminal court impaneled a special grand jury. A court order placed under seal “all Grand Jury materials.” The special grand jury issued 160 subpoenas and collected more than 22,000 documents and indicted Vanecko for involuntary manslaughter. In 2014, Vanecko pled guilty; the court unsealed the report and released it to the public. The trial court rejected subsequent requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 ILCS 140/1, for the sealed grand jury documents. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court, which rejected disclosure of most of the FOIA requests but remanded to the circuit court for an in camera inspection of a specific category of documents to determine which may be disclosed. A lawful court order takes precedence over the disclosure requirements of FOIA; a requester must first have the court that issued the injunction modify or vacate its order. If the issuing court refuses, the requester may challenge the refusal in a direct appeal. View "In re Appointment of Special Prosecutor" on Justia Law

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In 2012, then-Governor Quinn nominated Gregg to be a salaried member of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board (IPRB). Gregg submitted a statement of economic interests for the preceding calendar year, indicating that in 2011, he was mayor of Harrisburg. Asked to identify any gift valued over $500 and its source, Gregg wrote “None.” At the time, Gregg was recovering from an illness. Gregg did not complete a statement of economic interests for calendar year 2012. In 2013, Gregg resigned as mayor of Harrisburg. A former Harrisburg city treasurer notified the Illinois Department of Corrections that Gregg failed to include in his statement of economic interests a medical lift chair received as a gift. IPRB legal counsel investigated; neither the IPRB nor the Governor’s office took further action. In November 2013, the Illinois Senate approved Gregg’s appointment for a six-year term. In 2014, Gregg filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. Governor Rauner took office in 2014 and removed Gregg from the IPRB based on his misstatements and omissions on the statement of economic interest and his bankruptcy petition. The circuit court found that Gregg’s removal was judicially reviewable and determined that Rauner wrongfully terminated Gregg’s appointment. The Illinois Supreme Court disagreed, holding that Rauner’s decision to remove Gregg from the IPBR was not subject to judicial review. The Illinois Constitution, article V, section 10 provides: “The Governor may remove for incompetence, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office any officer who may be appointed by the Governor.” The IPRB is not one of those rare agencies whose functions require complete independence from gubernatorial influence. View "Gregg v. Rauner" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, participants in public pension funds, sued, challenging the constitutionality of three reforms in Public Act 97-651, which altered articles 8, 11, and 17 of the Illinois Pension Code (40 ILCS 5/8, 11, 17) and modified the calculation of annuities. The circuit court invalidated two provisions eliminating the right to earn union service credit for leaves of absence beginning after the amendments' effective date as violating the Illinois Constitution's (Ill. Const. 1970, art. XIII, 5) pension-protection clause but upheld the constitutionality of the third reform. The Illinois Supreme court affirmed regarding the elimination of the right to earn service credit for a union leave of absence; for participants who were already members on the Act's effective date, the ability to earn service credit on leave of absence for labor organization employment is a "benefit" that "cannot be diminished or impaired." The court reversed the dismissal of a claim that the change in the law to deny the use of a union salary under section 8-226(c) or 11-215(c)(3) to calculate the “highest average annual salary” violate the pension clause. The court also reversed the rulings on the that resulted from the circuit court’s construction of section 8-226(c)(3) to include defined contribution plans within the definition of “any pension plan.” View "Carmichael v. Laborers' & Retirement Board Employees' Annuity & Benefit Fund of Chicago" on Justia Law

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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