Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Illinois
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Prate, a construction contractor, sought coverage through the Illinois Assigned Risk Plan, which provides workers’ compensation insurance coverage through a risk pool administered by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). Liberty was assigned as Prate’s carrier. After determining that Prate’s subcontractor, ARW, did not have workers’ compensation insurance, Liberty assessed Prate an additional premium of $127,305. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, which provides dispute resolution services for NCCI, declined to rule on the dispute, citing insufficient information. Prate appealed to the Department of Insurance (DOI) under Insurance Code section 462. One of Prate’s arguments was that ARW had no employees and that all work on Prate projects was performed by RTS, which had workers’ compensation insurance. The DOI’s hearing officer agreed with Liberty on all issues. The circuit court affirmed. While an appeal was pending, the appellate court issued its ruling in a dispute between Liberty and a trucking company, finding that DOI did not have the authority to resolve a dispute concerning employment status.The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the trial court decision. The DOI had the authority to resolve the dispute under 215 ILCS 5/462. While section 462 does not apply to all insurance premium disputes but only to those involving the application of a rating system to a party’s insurance, the existence of a single factual dispute does not preclude review under section 462. View "Prate Roofing and Installations, LLC v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Corp." on Justia Law

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O’Connell began working for the County in 1999 and became a participant in the Benefit Fund, with the County transferring a portion of his salary to the Fund as his employee contribution (40 ILCS 5/9-108). In 2001, O’Connell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In 2017, after exhausting his paid leave, O’Connell obtained an ordinary disability benefit (50% of his salary). The Board stated that based on his years of service, the benefit would expire in August 2021. The County separated him from the position effective July 1, 2019. The Board ceased paying the ordinary disability benefit to O’Connell; the County ceased making contributions to the Fund on O’Connell’s behalf.O’Connell filed suit, alleging that the Illinois Pension Code and the pension protection clause of the Illinois Constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. XIII, 5) entitled him to continued ordinary disability benefit payments even though the County had terminated his employment. The appellate court reversed the dismissal of his complaint. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. O’Connell maintained standing to seek relief for reinstatement of his ordinary disability benefit by the Board and of contributions by the County and stated a sufficient cause of action for declaratory judgment and for mandamus. Once the Board grants the employee the ordinary disability benefit, Pension Code section 9-157 then enumerates triggering events, which do not include termination of employment, that halt the benefit. View "O'Connell v. County of Cook" on Justia Law

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In 2016, nearly 80% of Illinois voters voted to amend the Illinois Constitution; section 11, titled “Transportation funds,” was added to the state revenue article and provides that money generated from taxes, fees, excises, and license taxes on transportation infrastructure or operations shall only be spent on transportation purposes. Plaintiffs, contracting firms in the public transportation construction and design industry, sought declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that Cook County, a home-rule unit, was violating the Amendment by diverting “revenue from transportation-related taxes and fees to the County’s Public Safety Fund” and impermissibly spending the revenue on non-transportation related purposes.The circuit court dismissed the complaint, finding that the plaintiffs lacked standing and that the complaint failed to state a violation of the Amendment. The appellate court reversed on the issue of standing but affirmed that no violation of the Amendment had been stated. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the dismissal. The plaintiffs have associational standing and the money derived from the Cook County Transportation Taxes is subject to the Amendment. The Amendment did not create an exemption for home-rule units, home-rule taxes, or home-rule expenditures. The court found no issue with the manner in which home-rule units have had their power limited in the transportation context. View "Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association v. County of Cook" on Justia Law

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The plaintiff was injured after a high-speed chase, during which officers were following a car that had been reported stolen; officers had gotten within 10 feet of the car in a parking lot and had ordered the driver out of the car at gunpoint. The driver sped off and hit the plaintiff. The Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/4-106(b), provides local public entities and public employees with absolute immunity from liability for “[a]ny injury inflicted by an escaped or escaping prisoner.”The appellate court held that the defendants, several police officers and their government employers, did not have immunity under section 4-106(b) for the plaintiff's injuries because the person the police officers were chasing was not “an escaped or escaping prisoner” within the meaning of the Act. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. A mere show of authority by police officers is not sufficient to establish physical custody. The driver’s freedom of movement was directly controlled or limited to a particular place; he was not “held in custody” in the parking lot within the plain and ordinary meaning of that phrase, and was not an “escaped or escaping prisoner” when he subsequently hit the plaintiff. View "Robinson v. Village of Sauk Village" on Justia Law

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Schultz filed a wrongful death and survival action, alleging that the defendants engaged in willful and wanton conduct by refusing to dispatch 911 services, which resulted in the decedent’s (his wife) death. Schultz had called 911, asking that police stop his wife from driving because she was intoxicated. The defendants allegedly first dispatched police to the wrong location and then refused to contact police after Schultz called back. The circuit court dismissed, finding that the defendants had absolute immunity from civil liability under section 4-102 of the Tort Immunity Act and that the decedent's negligence was the sole proximate cause of her injuries and death. The appellate court affirmed, finding that the Emergency Telephone System Act (ETS), 50 ILCS 750/15.1(a), did not apply to situations in which a 911 dispatcher allegedly failed or refused to dispatch emergency services but is limited to “provid[ing] an immunity for failures within that infrastructure and technology itself” and “was not designed to supersede the immunities set forth in the Tort Immunity Act.”The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal. The limited immunity of section 15.1(a) of the ETS Act governs this claim, but dismissal was appropriate because the decedent’s conduct was the sole proximate cause of her death. View "Schultz v. St. Clair County" on Justia Law

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In the March 2020 primary election, McHenry Township voters rejected a proposition to dissolve the township. Months later, the township’s board of trustees adopted a resolution to place a nearly identical proposition on the November 2020 general election ballot. The McHenry County Clerk refused to place the proposition on the ballot, notifying the township that the proposition violated the statutory prohibition against “the same proposition” appearing on the ballot more than once within 23 months, 10 ILCS 5/28-7.The circuit court dismissed a mandamus petition. The appellate court reversed the dismissal, holding that, regardless of whether the proposition was prohibited from appearing on the November 2020 ballot, the clerk lacked the statutory authority to make that determination and was obligated to perform the ministerial act of placing the proposition on the ballot. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, noting that the township is no longer pursuing dissolution.Section 28-5 provides that a county clerk is authorized to give notice that the public question may not be placed on the ballot only when the question is prohibited by “the limitations of section 28-1.” The prohibition against placing the same proposition on the ballot more than once in 23 months is set forth in section 28- 7, not section 28-1. The court did not consider whether the proposition actually violated section 28-7. View "McHenry Township v. County of McHenry" on Justia Law

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Sigcho-Lopez, the alderman for Chicago’s 25th Ward, filed a complaint with the Illinois State Board of Elections, alleging that his predecessor’s (Solis) campaign committee unlawfully paid Solis's personal legal fees from campaign funds. The Board dismissed Sigcho-Lopez’s complaint. On administrative review, the appellate court affirmed the dismissal.The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. Legal fees incurred to pay for a public official’s criminal defense against investigations or charges of public corruption do not amount to a per se prohibited personal debt under the plain language and spirit of Election Code section 9-8.10(a)(3); whether legal defense fees amount to a personal debt that does not defray the customary and reasonable expenses of an officeholder in connection with the performance of governmental and public service functions must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Solis was not indicted but worked with federal investigators using his official capacity to expose public corruption. Considering the evidence before the Board, its conclusion that Solis’s legal fees amounted to a proper expenditure not prohibited as “satisfaction or repayment” of personal debt but incurred “to defray the customary and reasonable expenses of an officeholder in connection with the performance of governmental and public service functions” was not clearly erroneous. View "Sigcho-Lopez v. Illinois State Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Public Safety Employee Benefits Act (820 ILCS 320/1), states that “an important State interest” requires that an employer “who employs a full-time law enforcement, correctional or correctional probation officer, or firefighter, who ... suffers a catastrophic injury or is killed in the line of duty shall pay the entire premium of the employer’s health insurance plan for the injured employee, the injured employee’s spouse, and for each dependent child.” The Act does not define “catastrophic injury,” which the Illinois Supreme Court has found “synonymous with an injury resulting in a line-of-duty disability under section 4-110 of the [Illinois Pension] Code”Peoria’s ordinance was amended to define “catastrophic injury” as “[a]n injury, the direct and proximate consequences of which permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work.” The term “gainful work,” which does not appear in the Act, is defined as “[f]ull- or part-time activity that actually is compensated or commonly is compensated.”The Union sought a declaratory judgment that the amendment violates the Act. The circuit court granted the Union summary judgment. The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. The ordinance’s definitions are inconsistent with the requirements of the Act and are therefore preempted; the ordinance is not a valid exercise of Peoria’s home rule authority. View "International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 50 v. City of Peoria" on Justia Law

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Mancini Law Group sent a commercial Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request (5 ILCS 140/1) to the Schaumburg Police Department seeking disclosure of all traffic accident reports for all motor vehicle accidents that occurred within the Village between June 30, 2017, and July 13, 2017. The Department provided redacted accident reports, asserting that FOIA section 7(1)(b) exempted driver’s license numbers, personal telephone numbers, home addresses, and personal license plates; the Department relied upon section 7(1)(c) in redacting dates of birth and policy account numbers. The names of drivers and witnesses were unredacted.The circuit court held that the Department had established that the information at issue was exempt and rejected Mancini’s argument that the Department was precluded from asserting that the information was exempt because it voluntarily provided unredacted traffic accident reports to LexisNexis, a third-party vendor approved by the state for assisting the Department with its Illinois Vehicle Code mandatory reporting obligations.The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. The Department is not precluded from asserting that the redacted information is exempt under sections 7(1)(b) and 7(1)(c). An Illinois public body does not have the ability to waive an individual’s interest in his personal or private information that is contained in a document subject to a FOIA request. it is irrelevant whether the Department could have chosen to fulfill its mandatory reporting obligations in a different way. View "Mancini Law Group, P.C. v. Schaumburg Police Department" on Justia Law

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School districts sought a judgment declaring that the Governor and the State of Illinois, have a constitutional obligation to provide them with the funding necessary to meet or achieve the learning standards established by the Illinois State Board of Education. Plaintiffs asked the court to enter judgment for the necessary amounts and for the court to “[r]etain jurisdiction to enforce such schedule of payments.”The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the suit. The plaintiffs abandoned their claims against the State; the Governor is not a proper defendant because he does not have authority to grant the relief requested by the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs acknowledged that an appropriation of public funds may come only from the General Assembly. This case does not involve an actual controversy between the parties as required to grant declaratory relief. View "Cahokia Unit School District No. 187 v. Pritzker" on Justia Law