In three related decisions, the Appellate Court upheld a trial court’s ruling in favor of a municipality in three lawsuits brought by a resident claiming the municipality damaged his property. Ferrari v.Village of Glen Carbon, 2023 IL App (5th) 210373-U; Ferrari v. Village ofGlen Carbon, 2023 IL App (5th) 210374-U; Ferrari v. Village of Glen Carbon,2023 IL App (5) 210375-U.
A resident brought several small claims actions against a municipality alleging that actions of Village employees and agents resulted in damages to the resident’s property and seeking monetary damages. Three of the resident’s
claims were consolidated and heard together in a single hearing by the trial court.
In the first case, the resident claimed he incurred damages when Village employees allegedly trimmed back and killed bushes on
the resident’s property. The trial court ruled that the Village was not liable for damages
because Village employees have a common law privilege
to trim the residents’ bushes in order to maintain public roadways.
In the second case, the resident argued
that Village employees trespassed and caused damage to his property when repairing a public
roadway. The trial
court noted that although Village employees had a legal privilege to temporarily
access the resident’s property to make repairs to a public roadway, the Village’s actions in leaving its equipment at the resident’s property for several days constituted a “trespass.” However,
the trial court only awarded nominal damages of $1.00 because the trespass was incidental to needed
repairs of a public roadway.
In the third case, the resident claimed the Village
was liable for damages to the resident’s car when the Village accessed the property to
mow the resident’s grass when the resident failed to maintain its lawn in accordance with Village requirements. The trial court determined the Village had a right to access the
resident’s property, but that the Village was negligent and
damaged the resident’s car, and the court awarded damages to cover the resident’s costs of repair.
On appeal of all three rulings, the resident argued the trial court
erred in its rulings and violated the resident’s Sixth Amendment rights when it denied him an opportunity to conduct a second cross-examination of a Village
witness and refused to allow the resident to introduce evidence rebutting the
witness’s testimony. The Appellate Court rejected the resident’s arguments, finding that the trial court record that was submitted by the resident was incomplete and the resident had waived the Sixth Amendment claim.
Additionally, the resident also argued on appeal that the trial judge was biased in favor of the Village
and engaged in an impermissible ex-parte communication with the Village’s
attorney and improperly advised and assisted the Village’s attorney with its defense. The Appellate Court rejected the resident’s bias arguments, holding that the resident’s vague allegations of bias were unsupported by the record and insufficient to “overcome the presumption that the trial judge was fair and
Post Authored by Tyler Smith & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink