Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of Illinois
Tzakis v. Maine Township
The plaintiffs filed suit concerning flood damage to their Maine Township property after heavy rains in September 2008, alleging that public entities breached duties owed to them with respect to a stormwater drainage system located near their properties. Plaintiffs claimed that certain actions by the defendants increased water flow to the area and that there has been major flooding in the past. After a 2002 event, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources discovered “numerous bottlenecks and obstructions to flow as the causes of the invasive flooding” in the community. The trial court dismissed, finding that the defendants owed no duty to plaintiffs under the public duty rule and plaintiffs had not alleged any special duty. In the meantime, the Illinois Supreme Court (Coleman) abolished the public duty rule, which provided that a local governmental entity does not owe any duty to individual members of the public to provide adequate governmental services. The trial court found that the new law set forth in Coleman should not be retroactively applied.The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. Coleman clearly established a new principle of law, overturning decades of existing precedent. Given these circumstances and the two rationales for abolishing the public duty rule, the new law announced in Coleman would not be thwarted by its prospective application. Prospective application avoids substantial inequitable results for defendants who have relied upon the public duty rule throughout the long course of this litigation. View "Tzakis v. Maine Township" on Justia Law
County of Will v. Pollution Control Board
In 2010, the Illinois General Assembly directed the Pollution Control Board to adopt rules for the use of clean construction or demolition debris (CCDD) and uncontaminated soil (US) as fill material at clean construction or demolition debris fill operations. The rules were to include “standards and procedures necessary to protect groundwater.” The legislature provided “an inexhaustive list of 12 ways to do so that the Board may consider,” including groundwater monitoring. The rules ultimately promulgated by the Board required stronger “front-end” testing and certification requirements for CCDD and US but not a “back-end” groundwater monitoring requirement. The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the Board’s decision. Objectors failed to establish that the Board’s decision was arbitrary and capricious for relying upon an improper factor when it considered whether CCDD and US are waste. The courts rejected an argument that the Board ignored the costs of groundwater monitoring and the hazards of older and noncompliant fill. When acting in its quasi-legislative capacity, the Board has no burden to support its conclusions with a given quantum of evidence; the court rejected an argument that the Board’s decision was arbitrary and capricious for offering an explanation that was counter to the evidence or implausible. View "County of Will v. Pollution Control Board" on Justia Law
Hampton v. Metro. Water Reclamation Dist.
Plaintiffs, a class of property owners, sought compensation from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, alleging flooding on their properties caused by the District’s diversion of stormwater into nearby creeks. The District cited a 1948 Illinois Supreme Court decision, Pratt, as holding that a temporary flooding cannot constitute a taking under the Illinois Constitution. The trial court denied a motion to dismiss and certified a question based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 holding that temporary flooding can constitute a taking under the federal constitution, Arkansas Game & Fish Comm’n v. United States. The appellate court held that Arkansas Game overruled Pratt. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. The Illinois takings clause provides greater protection for property owners than its federal counterpart, in providing a remedy for property that is damaged, but, what constitutes a taking is the same under both clauses. The holding in Arkansas Game is relevant to the determination of whether government-induced temporary flooding is a taking under the Illinois Constitution. That holding, however, does not conflict with Pratt. Pratt did not hold that temporary flooding can never constitute a taking, but only that the flooding, in that case, did not amount to a taking. Similarly, the facts alleged by plaintiffs are not sufficient to allege a taking. The complaint does not allege that the flooding “radically interfered” with use and enjoyment of the properties. The parties did not address whether the properties were "damaged." View "Hampton v. Metro. Water Reclamation Dist." on Justia Law