Justia Real Estate & Property Law 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
Berry v. City of Chicago
Named plaintiffs filed a two-count class-action complaint on behalf of “all residents of the City of Chicago who have resided in an area where the City has replaced water mains or meters between January 1, 2008, and the present.” The complaint raises claims of negligence and inverse condemnation in relation to the replacement of water meters and water main pipes, as well as the partial replacement of lead service lines that run between the water mains and residences throughout Chicago. The complaint claimed the city’s actions created an increased risk that lead will be dislodged or leach from the residents’ individual service lines. The appellate court reversed the dismissal of the complaint.The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the dismissal. The complaint did not allege that anyone is suffering from any physical impairment, dysfunction, or physically disabling consequence caused by the city's actions. An increased risk of harm is not, itself, an injury consistent with the traditional understanding of tort law. The plaintiffs have alleged only that the replacement of water mains and meters has made the proposed class members’ property “more dangerous.” The concept of “dangerousness” is not susceptible to objective measurement and, thus, cannot by itself constitute damage under the Illinois takings clause. View "Berry v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law
Raab v. Frank
The Grossens own but do not live on, Parcel A, adjacent to Parcel B, leased by Frank. The parcels are separated by a common fence. Frank has used Parcel B for pasturing cattle since 2009 and, under his lease is responsible for maintaining the fences on the parcel. When Frank repaired the fence he did not notify the Grossens. In 2011, Frank’s cattle escaped to a nearby road, where Raab collided with a cow. Raab sued, citing the Animals Running Act. Frank filed a third-party complaint against the Grossens under the Contribution Act, citing the Fence Act, negligence, and breach of contract. The cow that injured Raab escaped through a portion of the fence the Grossens were obligated to maintain under a contract between previous owners. The circuit court approved a $225,000 settlement agreement between Raab and Frank; determined that the Animals Running Act barred any contribution from nonowners or nonkeepers of livestock and that Frank’s failure to notify the Grossens of known deficiencies in the fence barred liability under the Fence Act; and held that a breach of the fence contract could not create that liability to Raab, so the contract could not be the basis for contribution. The appellate court reversed in part.The Illinois Supreme Court held that common law does not provide a basis to hold a nonowner or nonkeeper of livestock liable in tort for damage caused by a neighbor’s animals; the Animals Running Act is not a source of a duty for nonowners and nonkeepers to restrain neighboring cattle. Since Frank has not otherwise established potential tort liability, breach of contract does not give rise to liability under the Contribution Act. View "Raab v. Frank" on Justia Law
1550 MP Road LLC v. Teamsters Local Union No. 700
The Property of Unincorporated Associations Act, 765 ILCS 115/2, requires a labor union to notify its members and obtain their approval before entering into an agreement to lease or purchase real estate. The circuit court held that an agreement is enforceable despite a union’s failure to follow these requirements because the Act is silent as to the consequences of noncompliance. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. Where a party lacks the legal authority to form a contract, the resulting contract is void ab initio. Absent compliance with the statutory prerequisites, an unincorporated association has no power to execute a valid real estate contract. The apparent authority doctrine is not relevant. A contract that is void ab initio is treated as though it never existed and, thus, cannot be enforced by either party. View "1550 MP Road LLC v. Teamsters Local Union No. 700" on Justia Law
Sienna Court Condominium Assoc. v. Champion Aluminum Corp.
The owners of units in Sienna Court Condominiums, a newly-constructed 111-residential-unit Evanston property sued, alleging that the developer, TR, sold the units with latent defects that resulted in water infiltration and other conditions that rendered the individual units and common areas unfit for habitation. The complaint alleged breach of an express warranty and breach of an implied warranty of habitability against TR, the general contractor, the architect and engineering design firms, material suppliers and several subcontractors. TR and the general contractor were bankrupt. The unit owners obtained relief from the automatic bankruptcy stay. TR and the general contractor had two separate insurance policies, each providing coverage of $1 million per occurrence with $2 million aggregate limits. Plaintiffs had recovered approximately $308,000 from TR through a warranty escrow fund required by Evanston ordinance. Subcontractors and the material suppliers asserted that they were not subject to an implied warranty of habitabililty. The circuit court denied their motion to dismiss. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, holding that a purchaser of a newly constructed home may not assert a claim for breach of an implied warranty of habitability against a subcontractor who took part in the construction of the home, where the subcontractor had no contractual relationship with the purchaser. View "Sienna Court Condominium Assoc. v. Champion Aluminum Corp." on Justia Law
Madigan v. Wildermuth
The Attorney General filed a complaint in which Count IV alleged that Wildermuth, an attorney, and Kleanthis, a veteran of the real estate business, engaged in acts and practices that violated section 3-102 of the Illinois Human Rights Act by a pattern and practice of discrimination in the offering of loan modification services to Illinois consumers. The complaint alleged that defendants advertised that they would succeed where other loan modification providers had failed, help consumers save their homes and obtain significant reductions in their monthly payments. The circuit court of Cook County denied defendants’ motion to dismiss but certified for interlocutory appeal the question: “Whether the State may claim a violation under the Illinois Human Rights Act pursuant to a reverse redlining theory where it did not allege that the defendant acted as a mortgage lender.” The appellate court answered the question in the affirmative. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed in part, stating that it is not necessary to allege that one is a mortgage lender to sustain a claim for a violation of the statute. The court concluded, nonetheless, that Count IV should have been dismissed, rejecting the state’s argument that the defendants engaged in a “real estate transaction” by providing “financial assistance for ... maintaining a dwelling.” Defendants’ services cannot be considered necessary; they were not “necessary conduits” through which funds flow, nor did they act as real estate brokers. View "Madigan v. Wildermuth" on Justia Law
Carle Foundation v. Cunningham Township
Plaintiff (Carle Foundation) owns four Urbana parcels of land that are used in connection with the operation of plaintiff’s affiliate, Carle Foundation Hospital. Before 2004, the parcels were deemed exempt from taxation under the Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/15-65(a) because their use was for charitable purposes. From 2004-2011, the Cunningham Township assessor terminated plaintiff’s charitable-use tax exemption. For tax years 2004-2008, plaintiff filed unsuccessful applications with the county board of review to exempt the parcels. Plaintiff filed no applications for tax years 2009-2011. In 2007, plaintiff filed suit. In 2012, Public Act 97-688 (section 15-86) took effect, establishing a new charitable-use exemption specifically for hospitals. Plaintiff argued that section 15-86 applies retroactively. The court agreed, but held that it was “obvious that resolution of the question of whether the standard established by section 15-86(c) applies to plaintiff’s claims will not resolve the merits of those claims.” The appellate court reversed, finding that section 15-86 violated the Illinois Constitution. The Illinois Supreme Court vacated, holding that the court lacked appellate jurisdiction because the trial court erred in entering an order under Rule 304(a). Plaintiff’s exemption claims and plaintiff’s request for a declaration as to what law governs those claims matters are “so closely related that they must be deemed part of a single claim for relief.” View "Carle Foundation v. Cunningham Township" on Justia Law
Murphy-Hylton v. Lieberman Management Services, Inc.
Plaintiff lived in a Klein Creek condominium in Carol Stream. After a 20-inch February 2011 snowstorm, the association's landscaping service cleared the complex’s sidewalks. Eleven days later, plaintiff left her unit and fell on a sidewalk, breaking her leg, knee, and hip. She filed suit, claiming that she fell on an unnatural accumulation of ice. She alleged negligence in failing to properly direct the drainage of water and melted snow, failing to repair defective sidewalks, and failing to repair downspouts to prevent an unnatural accumulation of ice on the sidewalk, and noncompliance with construction and maintenance codes. The condominium association's president stated that he was aware of water collecting on and around sidewalks in other areas of the complex, especially during heavy rainstorms, but was not aware of water pooling in the area behind the building where plaintiff fell. The property managers stated that they were unaware of drainage issues at the back of the buildings. The court found the claim barred by the immunity provided to residential owners and operators under the Snow and Ice Removal Act. 745 ILCS 75/0.01. The appellate court reversed, reasoning that the immunity did not apply because there were no allegations of negligence relating to snow or ice removal efforts. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. The Act provides immunity from claims for injuries allegedly caused by icy sidewalks resulting from negligent snow and ice removal efforts, but it does not extend to claims for injuries allegedly caused by icy sidewalks that result from an otherwise negligent failure to maintain the premises. View "Murphy-Hylton v. Lieberman Management Services, Inc." 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
Fattah v. Bim
In 2005, Masterklad built a house in Glenview, including a brick patio that extended off the rear of the house. Because the ground underneath the patio sloped down, dirt and gravel were placed underneath it to support the bricks and make them level with the house's rear entrance. A retaining wall was built to contain the fill. In 2007, the house was sold by Masterklad to a Lubeck for $1,710,000. In the contract Lubeck “knowingly, voluntarily, fully and forever,” waived the implied warranty of habitability in exchange for an express warranty provided by Masterklad, with a one-year term. In 2010, Lubeck sold the house to Fattah, for $1,050,000, with a document stating that the house was being sold “as is” and that the seller made no representations or warranty regarding its condition. In 2011, parts of the retaining wall around the rear patio gave way and part of the patio collapsed. The owner sued. The circuit court found that the patio wall had given way due to latent defects in its construction, but that plaintiff could not recover because Masterklad had executed a valid, enforceable waiver of the implied warranty of habitability with Lubeck. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. The implied warranty of habitability may not be extended to a second purchaser of a house when a valid, bargained-for waiver of the warranty has been executed between the builder-vendor and the first purchaser. View "Fattah v. Bim" on Justia Law