Local Government Lowdown

Get insights and analysis on all the latest Illinois government legal news from Tressler’s local attorneys.

Tressler is proud to welcome Michael Vargas as an associate in the Government Practice Group in our Chicago office. Michael concentrates his practice on the representation of Illinois municipalities, park districts, school districts and other units of local government in transactional matters. He has experience representing school districts in day-to-day employment and student-related matters including employee investigations, negotiating with various unions, drafting and negotiating procurement contracts, student discipline and teacher discipline.

In addition, Michael has counseled clients regarding the Open Meetings Act, Freedom of Information Act, Illinois School Student Records Act and new legislation.

“I am very excited to join Tressler
Continue Reading Michael Vargas Joins Tressler’s Government Practice Group

In the recent case of Martin v. City of Chicago, 2023 IL App (1st) 221116 (November 15, 2023) 3d Div., Cook Co., the Appellate Court addressed the issue of public entity liability for injuries caused by defective sidewalks. The Plaintiff, Sarah Martin, alleged that she sustained injuries after falling into a hole in a sidewalk in Chicago. Martin filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging that the city was negligent in maintaining the sidewalk in a safe condition. The trial court considered the case as one of premises liability and instructed the jury to determine if the Plaintiff was
Continue Reading Do You Own a Sidewalk? Appellate Court Gives Public Entities Another Win in Sidewalk Defect Cases

A recent First District Illinois Appellate Court ruling in the case of Lara Stachler v. The Board of Education of the City of Chicago, 2023 IL App (1st) 221092, rejected the plaintiff-appellant’s assertion that the Illinois Human Rights Act entitles an employee to accommodations for pregnancy-related medical conditions even when the accommodation would preclude the employee from performing the essential functions of her job. The court further held that an employee must advise her employer when an employer-provided private room to breastfeed or express breastmilk is inadequate.

Upon return from maternity leave to her work as a speech-language pathologist with
Continue Reading Granting Request for Remote Work to Employee Due to Pregnancy-Related Conditions Not Required Where it Would Eliminate Key Function of Her Position

Local Government May Take Property Without Compensation if the Taking is Necessary to Protect Public Health and Safety

A recent Seventh Circuit decision re-affirmed precedent that, so long as the proper procedures are followed, local governments may take private property so long as the taking is necessary to protect public health and safety. In the recent case of Willow Way, LLC v. Village of Lyons, Illinois, No. 22-1775, the Court considered a dispute over the Village’s demolition of a dilapidated house on property owned by Willow Way, LLC. Willow Way argued that the demolition was a taking without compensation
Continue Reading A Case of Nuisance Abatement and Substantive Due Process

In Lehhy, et al. v City of Carbondale, 2023 IL APP  220542 the Plaintiff alleged that the City’s administrative fees were unconstitutional and that the City was reimbursed twice for the costs through administrative/ordinance fees and the Illinois Criminal and Traffic Assessment Act (Act).

The ordinance at issue addresses the towing and impounding of vehicles involved in a crime and provides two levels of administration fees. The City Code makes Level One a fee of $400 and Level Two a fee of $200. The complaint alleged that the City’s ordinance setting forth administrative fees had no reasonable relationship to
Continue Reading Municipal Towing and Administrative Fees Found to be Constitutional

We are excited to announce that Tressler attorney Andrew Paine will be competing as a member of the U.S. National Amputee Soccer Team at the 2023 Amp Football Cup. The team will square off against Poland, England, Japan and Costa Rica in Warsaw, Poland on September 16-17, 2023.“As some of you know, in March of 2022 I was in a snowmobile accident that resulted in significant injuries, including the amputation of my right leg just above the knee,” said Andrew Paine. “Now, a little more than a year later, I am honored and humbled to represent the United States as
Continue Reading Attorney Andrew S. Paine to Compete at the 2023 Amputee Football Cup in Poland

The Public Access Counselor (“PAC”) recently provided clarification of a difficult issue: the release of records involving juveniles. The PAC issued a binding opinion where it found that a Village did not violate the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) by withholding police reports involving both an adult arrestee and a minor arrestee in response to a FOIA request. 2023 PAC 76670. The Village cited the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (“JCA”) when it denied certain records and withheld the reports in their entirety. The JCA protects the confidentiality of juvenile law enforcement and municipal ordinance violation
Continue Reading Recent PAC Decision Upholds Denial of Disclosure of Juvenile Police Reports

In Bitsky v. City of Chicago, et al., 2023 IL App (1st) 220266, the court reaffirmed its adherence to prior Illinois precedent which allows a contractor to avoid liability for a premises claim where it carefully follows specifications set by the state. In Bitsky, the plaintiff brought claims sounding in premises liability against the City of Chicago (the “City”), a general contractor and multiple subcontractors following a slip and fall on an alleged defective public sidewalk. The City and the general contractor both settled, but the subcontractors all moved for summary judgment on the grounds that they (i) carefully
Continue Reading Contractor’s Reliance on City’s Design Specifications Defeats a Premises Liability Claim

On June 15, 2023, in Michelle Giese v. City of Kankakee, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the City of Kankakee in a federal civil rights lawsuit. Plaintiff, Michelle Giese, a lieutenant in the fire department, alleged she was attacked by another firefighter while responding to a fire at a senior living facility. The City suspended the other firefighter for twenty-four hours without pay, ordered him to complete an anger management course and directed him to avoid working the same shift as Plaintiff for three months. Plaintiff alleged she experienced ongoing physical and mental injuries from
Continue Reading Firefighter’s Monell and Title VII Retaliation Claims Against City Tossed Out of Court

On May 15, 2023, the U.S. Department of Education (“Department of Education”) released updated guidance on constitutionally protected school prayer and religious expression in the public school setting. This guidance was issued after the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, which upheld a high school football coach’s right to pray after football games. Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, 142 S. Ct. 2407 (2022). The guidance is intended to “provide information on the current state of the law concerning constitutionally protected prayer and religious expression in public schools.”

To assist schools in applying the ruling in this recent Supreme Court decision,
Continue Reading Updated Guidance from the Department of Education on Prayer and Religious Expression

A recent ruling from the Illinois Supreme Court has important implications for municipalities and developers that enter into annexation agreements and for those who purchase a portion of the property that was subject to the annexation agreement.  

In Village of Kirkland v. Kirkland Properties Holdings Co, LLC I, 2023 IL 128612, the Village of Kirkland entered into an annexation agreement in 2003 with the then-owners of 115 acres of unincorporated land. The agreement required the landowners to construct certain public improvements on the property, including roadways, and to provide the Village with a letter of credit to secure
Continue Reading Supreme Court Upholds Municipality’s Ability to Enforce Annexation Agreement on Successor Owners

In City of Danville v. C.A. Collins Enterprises, the Fifth District Appellate Court recently reversed the Circuit Court of Vermilion County’s issuance of a deed to the City of Danville, finding that the circuit court improperly interpreted section 11-31-1(d) of the Illinois Municipal Code. This section provides an expedited process for courts to issue judicial deeds to municipalities for abandoned properties. For a property to be declared abandoned under the section, it must meet the following conditions:

1) the property has been tax delinquent for two or more years or bills for water service have been outstanding for two or
Continue Reading Fifth District Appellate Court Reverses Circuit Court’s Decision Regarding Abandonment of Historic Danville Tower

In Ory v. City of Naperville, 2023 IL App (3d) 220105, the court provided further insight into the requirements of actual or constructive notice in a premises liability case. In Ory, the plaintiff brought claims sounding in negligence and premises liability against the City of Naperville (the “City”) following a slip and fall on an alleged defective public sidewalk. The plaintiff alleged that the City was negligent in failing to correct a height differential in the sidewalk as it had either actual or constructive notice of the height differential. The City moved for summary judgment arguing that it had
Continue Reading Plaintiff’s Failure to Show Actual or Constructive Notice Defeats a Premises Liability Case

The Seventh Circuit ruled in favor of the school district and found that a high school teacher did not have the right to ignore the school’s transgender name and pronoun policy because of his religious beliefs. Kluge v. Brownsburg Community School Corp., No. 21-2475 (April 7, 2023) S.D. Ind., Indianapolis Div.

In 2017, Brownsburg Community School Corporation (“School”) implemented a new policy to use transgender students’ chosen names and pronouns. John Kluge, a music teacher at the School, refused to abide by the new policy, claiming it violated his religious beliefs. Teachers were instructed to call all students by
Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Upholds Discharge of Teacher Over Transgender Name Policy

Here is a brief update on the proposed Tax Increment Financing (TIF) legislation and economic development legislation. The primary TIF Legislation proposed is the Senate Committee Amendment 2 to SB 1391 (Sen. Gillespie, D-Arlington Heights). This legislation includes a number of proposed changes that would be harmful to TIF, including, among many other things, an expansion of the purview of the Joint Review Board (JRB) of TIF districts, granting the JRB veto-like powers over the creation and extension of TIF districts. The good news is that SB 1391 was not heard in committee and thus, should not advance. However, there are
Continue Reading Update on Proposed TIF and Economic Development Legislation

110 Larkin LLC et al. v. Weber, 2023 IL App (3d) 210606 arose from a tax rate objection in which the Plaintiffs alleged that the Woodridge Park District (WPD) imposed an unlawful levy in 2017 that resulted in an illegal excess accumulation in its corporate sub-fund. The Plaintiffs asserted that WPD levied $3,910,740 for “corporate purposes” in 2017. The Plaintiffs contended that this 2017 levy resulted in WPD’s “corporate sub-fund” containing 3.5 times the average annual expenditure of that specific fund.  Excess accumulation claims are analyzed by adding the fund’s balance at the beginning of the fiscal year and the
Continue Reading Appellate Court Finds in Favor of Park District on Tax Objection by Reviewing General Fund Accumulations Rather than Corporate Sub-Fund