Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Illinois
by
The plaintiffs own property on the non-navigable Mazon River in Grundy County and want to kayak on the River through the defendants' neighboring properties. They sought a declaration that they had the right as riparian owners to kayak along the entire length of the Mazon River, including through property owned by the defendants, “f[r]ee and clear from any claim of trespass.” The Mazon River is 28 miles long and is a tributary of the Illinois River.The circuit court, appellate court, and the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in favor of the defendants. Neither precedent nor Illinois common law grants a riparian owner on a non-navigable river or stream the right to use that waterway to cross the property of another riparian owner without that owner’s permission. The distinction between property boundaries on a lake versus a river or stream has been recognized in Illinois law for over a century. The Illinois common law “reasonable use” doctrine of water by riparian owners applies to direct consumptive or diversionary uses of the water, not the use of the surface water to enter the property of another riparian owner. View "Holm v. Kodat" on Justia Law

by
On February 15, 2018, GAN filed a petition for a tax deed to acquire property it purchased at Cook County’s 2016 annual tax sale for the tax year 2014. On April 24, 2018, GAN assigned its interest in the property to Blossom63. On May 6, 2018, Longmeadow, the owner of the property, transferred its interest in the property to Devonshire. On May 17, Devonshire sought to intervene in the tax deed proceedings and moved to vacate Blossom63’s tax deed on the ground Blossom63 failed to strictly comply with the notice requirements of the Property Tax Code, 35 ILCS 200/22-5.On May 18, the circuit court granted the petition for a tax deed. The county clerk issued Blossom63 a tax deed. On June 19, 2019, the circuit court granted Devonshire’s motion to vacate the order issuing a tax deed to Blossom63. The appellate court reversed, finding Blossom63’s notice strictly complied with the Tax Code. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. Blossom63 strictly complied with section 22-5 by listing the delinquent tax year for which the sale was held without listing the additional delinquent tax years for which it paid taxes to complete the sale. View "In re Application of the County Collector" on Justia Law

by
In 2011, PNC filed a foreclosure complaint against Kusmierz. PNC retained Metro to serve the summons. Magida, a Metro employee, attempted to serve Kusmierz at the subject Lombard address but the property was a vacant lot. Magida served Kusmierz in Palatine. Days later, PNC obtained the appointment of Metro as a special process server. PNC then filed affidavits of service. Kusmierz failed to appear. On February 28, 2012, the court entered an order of default and a judgment of foreclosure and sale. PNC complied with all statutory notice requirements, and the property was sold at a judicial sale back to PNC. The court confirmed the judicial sale. Notices of the proceedings were mailed to the Palatine address. In 2013, third parties purchased the property from PNC for $24,000 and constructed a home on the property with mortgage loans totaling $292,650.In 2018, more than seven years after being served with the foreclosure complaint and summons, Kusmierz sought relief from void judgments under 735 ILCS 5/2-1401(f), alleging improper service because the process server was not appointed by the court at the time of service, in violation of section 2-202(a). The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint, applying both laches and the bona fide purchaser protections in section 2-1401(e) of the Code of Civil Procedure. View "PNC Bank, National Association v. Kusmierz" on Justia Law

by
The School Board sought equitable relief from Crest Hill ordinances creating a real property tax increment financing (TIF) district and attendant redevelopment plan and project, pursuant to the Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act (65 ILCS 5/11-74.4-1). The Board complained that Crest Hill violated the TIF Act by including parcels of realty in the redevelopment project area that were not contiguous. An excluded parcel is owned by the utility company, is located outside the incorporated boundaries of the municipality and the boundaries of the redevelopment project area, and physically separates the parcels the municipality found to be contiguous for purposes of including them in the redevelopment project area.The circuit court granted Crest Hill summary judgment. The Appellate Court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the reversal. A public-utility-right-of-way exception to the contiguity requirement for annexation, found in the Municipal Code (65 ILCS 5/7-1-1), does not apply as an exception to contiguity required by the TIF Act. This case does not involve contiguous properties running parallel and adjacent to each other in a reasonably substantial physical sense, wherein a public utility owns a right-of-way, or easement, to pass through one or both of the physically adjacent properties. View "Board of Education of Richland School District No. 88A v. City of Crest Hill" on Justia Law

by
The real estate taxes on Brown’s mineral rights were not paid. In 2013, the Hamilton County collector sold the delinquent taxes. Castleman extended the taxes’ redemption date to October 10, 2015, and filed a petition for a tax deed on June 22, 2015. An October 2015 order under Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/22-40(a)) directed the clerk to issue a tax deed to Castleman. Castleman assigned the tax sale certificate to Groome. Brown sold the mineral rights to SI by quitclaim deed. In November 2015, SI moved to vacate the section 22-40(a) order. The trial court dismissed for lack of standing. Meanwhile, Groome recorded a tax deed in February 2016. In June 2017, SI sought a writ of mandamus against the Hamilton County clerk who conceded that the 2016 Groome deed did not comport with the underlying section 22-40(a) order, which directed the deed to be issued to Castleman. The court granted SI’s requests. Castleman and Groome were not parties in the mandamus proceedings.The appellate court found the motion to vacate the section 22-40(a) order "a nullity.” The Hamilton County clerk issued Castleman a “Corrective Tax Deed” in October 2017, in compliance with the original section 22-40(a) order. SI filed a “Section 22-85 Motion to Void Tax Deed” and a “[Section] 2-1401/22-45 Petition to Vacate the October 2015 Order Directing Issuance of Tax Deed.” The appellate court affirmed the dismissal of both counts.The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. A tax deed issued and was recorded within the mandatory time limit. The deed’s failure to name the proper party created a conflict between the deed and the section 22-40(a) order. While timely filing may result in the tax deed becoming “absolutely void,” 35 ILCS 200/22-85, the conflict with the order does not. The court’s mandamus order is properly viewed as reforming and correcting the 2016 tax deed to comport with the section 22-40(a) order. View "In re Application for a Tax Deed" on Justia Law

by
In filing mortgage foreclosure cases, the plaintiffs each paid a $50 “add on” filing fee under section 15-1504.1 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of section 15-1504.1 and of sections 7.30 and 7.31 of the Illinois Housing Development Act, 20 ILCS 3805/7.30, 7.31, which created foreclosure prevention and property rehabilitation programs funded by the fee.The trial court, following a remand, held that the fee violated the equal protection, due process, and uniformity clauses of the Illinois Constitution of 1970. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, finding that the fee violates the constitutional right to obtain justice freely. The $50 filing charge established under section 15-1504.1, although called a “fee,” is, in fact, a litigation tax; it has no direct relation to expenses of a petitioner’s litigation and no relation to the services rendered. The court determined that the plaintiffs paid the fee under duress; the voluntary payment doctrine did not apply. View "Walker v. Chasteen" on Justia Law

by
The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act took effect in 2014, 410 ILCS 130/999, “to protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, as well as their physicians and providers, from arrest and prosecution, criminal and other penalties, and property forfeiture if patients engage in the medical use of cannabis.” The Department of Agriculture (DOA), charged with enforcing the provisions of the Act related to registering and overseeing medical cannabis cultivation centers, adopted Administrative Rules.Medponics petitioned for administrative review of a DOA decision, awarding a permit to Curative, to operate a medical cannabis cultivation center in Aurora. Medponics alleged that the location of Curative’s proposed facility violated the Act because it was located within 2500 feet of the R-1 and R-5 districts in Aurora, both of which Medponics alleged were zoned exclusively for residential use. DOA found Curative’s proposed location satisfied the location requirement because multiple nonresidential uses were authorized in Aurora’s R-1 and R-5 districts. The circuit court reversed the DOA’s decision.The appellate court ordered the permit reinstated to Curative. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. DOA’s interpretation of the location requirement is not erroneous, unreasonable, or in conflict with the Act; the definition is reasonable and harmonizes with the purpose of the Act. View "Medponics Illinois LLC v. Department of Agriculture" on Justia Law

by
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

by
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

by
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