Appellate Victory for Landowners in Eminent Domain Lawsuit
Jim Sipchen, John Scheid, and Scott Howie obtained an appellate victory for landowners whose 70-acre farm was the subject of eminent domain proceedings filed in DuPage County, Illinois. The Illinois Appellate Court’s decision upheld a traverse and motion to dismiss a local municipality’s lawsuit that sought to condemn a private driveway that the landowners had used to access their farm for over 58 years.
The Pretzel team successfully briefed and argued to the appellate court that the attempted taking of their client’s property was not necessary for any public purpose because the road the municipality sought to build did not connect to any other public roadway system and was not connected to any plans or studies for economic development of the area surrounding the farm. To the contrary, in refuting the municipality’s argument that the trial court failed to provide the proper extreme deference to the enabling ordinance it had passed in connection with its taking, the appellate court further agreed with the landowners that there was sufficient evidence presented at the trial level to support the trial court’s conclusion that the purpose of the taking was not a public one, but rather, private – specifically, to provide a “sweetheart deal” to a neighboring landowner for whom the municipality had promised to build a road pursuant to an annexation agreement entered into years ago. The municipality’s petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court was also denied.