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Mcgill v. 830 S. Michigan Hotel

JANUARY 31, 1966.

WINIFRED MCGILL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

830 S. MICHIGAN HOTEL, MODERN MANAGEMENT CO., A CORPORATION, AND K. GOLDEN, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. HUGO M. FRIEND, Judge, presiding. Reversed and remanded with directions.

MR. JUSTICE MURPHY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

Plaintiff, Winifred McGill, proceeding pro se, seeks to recover statutory damages for violation of her civil rights. She appeals from an order which struck her fourth amended complaint and dismissed her action.

Plaintiff, a hotel guest, bases her action on a series of weekly rent increases which commenced November 7, 1960, and have remained effective to the present time. Plaintiff alleges these rent increases were and continue to be violations of sections 125 and 126 of chapter 38, Ill Rev Stats 1961, and Article 13 of chapter 38, Ill Rev Stats, effective as of January 1, 1962.

The original complaint was filed on October 6, 1961, and was answered November 21, 1961. When it came up for pretrial on January 13, 1964, the complaint was ordered to be amended, and four amended complaints have been filed.

In her fourth amended complaint, plaintiff alleges, in summary, that she is a white person, and on September 12, 1960, became a tenant of the defendant, 830 S. Michigan Hotel, and occupied Room 410 at a weekly rental of $21.50; that because she received Negro visitors in her room, the weekly rental for plaintiff's room was increased to $26 on November 7, 1960, to $28 on December 10, 1960, and to $30 on January 16, 1961, for a total increase of 40% over a 10-week period; and defendants have continued to charge her the highest figure only because of her Negro visitors. Plaintiff further alleges there has been no equal increase in the weekly rentals asked of other guests at 830 S. Michigan Hotel from September 12, 1960, up to the present time; that "the defendants have not redecorated and repaired plaintiff's room, #410 when and as they have the rooms surrounding room #410"; and that "the defendants have wilfully, maliciously, illegally and unconscionably exploited plaintiff's desire and necessity to live in the area of the 830 S. Michigan Hotel, and the difficulties which she faces in securing suitable accommodations, because she is a white woman who associates with Negroes, by continuing each week to charge her an excessive and discriminatory rate for her room. . . ."

The complaint also alleges:

"20. Shortly after September 12, 1960, and at various times thereafter, plaintiff, who is white, received Negro visitors at the 830 S. Michigan Hotel.

"21. On various occasions while plaintiff was receiving a Negro visitor at the 830 S. Michigan Hotel, the defendants . . . committed the following acts:

"a. K. Golden untruthfully told plaintiff that guests of the 830 S. Michigan Hotel are not permitted to receive visitors.

"b. K. Golden refused to provide plaintiff with a written notice stating that guests of the 830 S. Michigan Hotel are not permitted to receive visitors.

"c. K. Golden and various agents and/or employees of the 830 S. Michigan Hotel and/or Modern Management Company told plaintiff and her Negro visitor that if she did not `dismiss her guest,' they would call the police and have them arrested for `loitering.'"

The Illinois Criminal Code in effect on September 12, 1960, contained a "Civil Rights" Act entitled "An Act to protect all citizens in their civil and legal rights and fixing a penalty for violation of the same," and sections 125 and 126 are pertinent here.

"125. All persons entitled to equal enjoyment of accommodations — Discrimination in price on account of race or color prohibited.] § 1. All persons within the jurisdiction of said State of Illinois shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodation, advantages, facilities and privileges of inns, restaurants, eating houses, hotels, . . . subject only to the conditions and limitations established by laws and applicable alike to all citizens; . . . ."

"126. Penalty.] § 2. That any person who shall violate any of the provisions of the foregoing section by denying to any citizen, except for reasons applicable alike to all citizens of every race and color, and regardless of color or race, the full enjoyment of any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges in said section enumerated, or by aiding or inciting such denial, shall for every such offense, forfeit and pay a sum not less than twenty-five ($25) dollars nor more than five hundred ($500) dollars to the person aggrieved thereby, to be recovered in any court of competent jurisdiction, in the county where said offense was committed; and shall also, for every such offense ...


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