First District appeals court reinstates woman's wrongful demolition case against Chicago City Hall

By Chandra Lye | Jul 13, 2017

CHICAGO —  A woman has been given another chance to press her claim that the city of Chicago unlawfully demolished a property she co-owned, after a state appeals court reversed a decision by a Cook County judge to dismiss her case.

The complaint was originally filed in Cook County Circuit Court in 2015 by Mary Madison, who purportedly held a “beneficial interest” in a building that the city destroyed in July 2010, according to court documents. In her filing, Madison claimed one count of wrongful demolition according to the Illinois Municipal Code and three counts of unlawful taking or inverse condemnation, negligence and conversion. 

However, Madison did not file her complaint until five years after the building had been torn down, and thus the city moved to have it dismissed, claiming they were outdated based on the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act. Madison responded by claiming there was an exception applicable to her case as defined in the act.

The trial court granted the city’s motion in December 2016, and Madison filed an appeal. 

In an opinion filed June 26, Illinois First District Appellate Court Justice Mary L. Mikva noted the language the legislature used in section 2-101 of the act implied there was no intent of a limited exception.

“The broad language the legislature instead chose suggests that its intent was to ensure that 'nothing' in the Act - including the Act’s shorter limitations period - could 'affect' those types of claims,”  Mikva wrote.

While the appellate justices rejected the city’s statutory construction arguments, they accepted the defendant’s argument that three of the charges Madison raised were not timely. 

“Ms. Madison provided no basis, in either her brief or when specifically asked about this at oral argument for treating claims that are not listed in 2-101 outside of the Tort Immunity Act because they are 'derivative' of claims that are listed,” the opinion read.

The court reversed the decision for the wrongful demolition claim, but upheld the dismissal of the other charges. 

Justices Maureen E. Connors and John B. Simon concurring with Mikva’s opinion. 

Madison was represented by attorney Jordan T. Hoffman, of Aurora, according to Cook County court records. The city was represented by corporation counsel from its Department of Law. 

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