Lawsuit: Wheaton City Hall, developer conspired to prevent couple from finishing work on home addition

By Scott Holland | Oct 14, 2015

A Wheaton couple have filed suit against the city and their neighbor, a suburban housing developer, who the couple alleged have conspired to prevent them from completing an addition to their home.

Jatin “Jay” Patel and Dipika Naik, who are Indian, filed the five-count complaint in federal court in Chicago earlier this week, naming as defendants the city, its code official Joe Kreidl and home builder Joseph Keim, owner and president of Keim Corporation.

The trouble goes back to their 2014 plans for an addition, for which they retained an architect, general contractor and subcontractors. The city issued a building permit in early August 2014, costing the plaintiffs about $2,000 in permit and plan review fees. Work began in November, and the project passed several early inspections for footings and foundation walls.

On Dec. 2, however, despite passing a foundation backfill inspection, the city later called contractor Rose Development to give notice of a stop work order due to the new roof “impacting side yard setback requirements.” Kreidl issued a written stop work order the same day. The plaintiffs submitted a new plan, which the city approved later that month, lifting the stop work order.

As backfilling and rough carpentry continued, another stop work order came through just prior to installation of plywood. This order, which Kreidl issued Feb. 25, referenced a violation of floor-to-area ratio — a project component the complaint stated is typically covered during initial permit review.

The plaintiffs said Keim “has repeatedly targeted and harassed plaintiffs for a variety of frivolous reasons in relation to” their home. They alleged he pressured the city to halt the project, and city officials “operate as a puppet” for Keim in regards to building and zoning issues.

Repeated attempts at resolution between the homeowners and city officials went nowhere, the Patels alleged, and in late July Mayor Michael J. Gresk and the City Council opted against lifting the stop work order. With the addition left incomplete, the home has been open to the elements for several months, heavily damaging portions of the original structure, plaintiffs said. On Sept. 11, the plaintiffs asked permission to conduct temporary repairs to prevent further damage; the city refused.

The five-count complaint includes claims against all defendants of an equal protection violation and conspiracy to commit an equal protection violation. For those, the plaintiffs seek compensatory damages to be awarded at trial as well as a permanent injunction requiring the defendants to adopt practices and policies consistent with the Civil Rights Act of 1871. They also want legal fees and punitive damages leveled against Kreidl and Keim.

The conspiracy complaints are linked to meetings between Kreidl and Keim predating the initial December 2014 stop work order as well as the February 2015 order, alleging the men “reached an agreement to enforce the city codes and ordinances against plaintiffs in a discriminatory manner.” They allege Kreidel and the council members met with Keim before their July decision to not lift the stop work order.

The plaintiffs seek an injunction to permanently lift the stop work order and prevent any further such orders as well as for the court to stop the city from further enforcing the stop work order. Finally, they petition for a writ of mandamus forcing city government officials to fulfill their duties.

Patel and Naik are represented by Cynthia S. Grandfield and Timothy A.M. Woerner, of Del Galdo Law Group, Berwyn.

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City of Wheaton Del Galdo Law Group LLC

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