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Rhodes v. City of Chicago

decided: April 28, 1975.

CHARLES EUGENE RHODES AND VIRGINIA R. RHODES; WILEY ROGERS AND LUCY ROGERS; ARTHUR L. WILSON AND EMMA WILSON; LORETTA LAWSON; VERNON COLD AND RUTH COLD; EDWIN CARL KAMPE AND SARAH KAMPE; ALFRED E. THOMAS, JR., AND MAMIE THOMAS; GEORGE R. HILL AND ZETHERINE HILL; CHARLES ASHLEY, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS REPRESENTATIVES OF THE CLASS OF PERSONS SIMILARLY SITUATED COMMONLY REFERRED TO AS CONDEMNEES OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO IN TRUST FOR THE USE OF SCHOOLS, HEREINAFTER REFERRED TO AS "CLASS CONDEMNEES", PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO IN TRUST FOR THE USE OF SCHOOLS; CHICAGO BOARD OF EDUCATION; MICHAEL J. MURRAY; FRANK S. RIGHEIMER; RICHARD E. GIRARD; CASPER W. WEINBERGER, SECRETARY OF HEALTH, EDUCATION AND WELFARE; AND JAMES F. REDMOND, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division - No. 73 C 1425 James B. Parsons, Judge.

Castle, Senior Circuit Judge, Pell, Circuit Judge and Jameson, Senior District Judge.*fn*

Author: Jameson

JAMESON, Senior District Judge.

This is an appeal from an order granting summary judgment to the defendants-appellees in an action wherein plaintiffs-appellants sought declaratory, injunctive and monetary relief, alleging that the land acquisition policies of the Chicago Board of Education violated plaintiffs' rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 3601, 3602, 3603, 3604, 4651 and 4655.

Background

Plaintiffs are eight black homeowners and one white homeowner who resided in a black neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. In June, 1972 the Chicago Board of Education, acting pursuant to its condemnation powers, caused plaintiffs' homes to be appraised in preparation for the expansion of an elementary school. On September 8, 1972, defendant Redmond, General Superintendent of Chicago Schools, wrote the plaintiffs offering to purchase their homes for amounts substantially lower than the prices at which they were appraised. A condemnation action was filed on December 8, 1972 in the Circuit Court of Cook County. This action was started on June 5, 1973.*fn1 An amended complaint was filed on September 26, 1973.

Amended Complaint

The amended complaint alleged, inter alia, that the defendants had made offers for plaintiffs' properties in amounts below their appraised and fair market values because of plaintiffs' race. Specifically it was alleged that on May 15, 1973 defendants Girard and Righeimer, attorneys representing the Chicago Board of Education and the City of Chicago in Trust for the Use of Schools,*fn2 made representations (to unspecified persons) "that the properties in question . . . were worth less money because they were now owned by persons of the Negro race, that the white owners in the case were also in the same position because of the neighborhood, that the purchase prices under the Federal Housing Authority insured mortgages*fn3 did not represent real value, and that the City of Chicago in Trust for the Use of Schools was hiring new appraisers to make appraisals in an amount lower than those already in possession of the defendants for the purposes of trial . . . ."

It was alleged further that the defendants, including the Secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (H.E.W.), were violating the plaintiffs' rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, the Civil Rights Act (42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 et seq.), the Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-04), and the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act (42 U.S.C. §§ 4651 and 4655).*fn4 Plaintiffs sought a judgment (1) declaring that the nonfederal defendants had violated plaintiffs' constitutional and statutory rights, (2) awarding damages against these defendants, (3) enjoining the Secretary of H.E.W. from giving any further assistance to the Board of Education pending a hearing, and (4) declaring payments by the Secretary illegal until the Board of Education complied with 42 U.S.C. §§ 4651 and 4655. Plaintiffs also sought a temporary restraining order to enjoin the condemnation suit pending in the state court until their civil rights claim could be fully aired in the federal court.

Denial of Restraining Order

The defendants moved to dismiss plaintiffs' action. The district court on December 19, 1973 granted defendants' motion to dismiss "as it relates to equitable relief". The court held that it would be improper to enjoin the state court condemnation proceedings as plaintiffs had failed to allege facts from which the court could infer that "any of the plaintiffs' federally protected constitutional rights will be infringed in the state court". Relying on Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 54, 27 L. Ed. 2d 669, 91 S. Ct. 746 (1971), the court held that "in the absence of any showing of bad faith or of harassment or of any unusual circumstance that would call for equitable relief, a federal court should not attempt to enjoin a state court proceeding that is pending".

Proceedings in State Court

On February 20, 1974, a trial was held in the condemnation action in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Expert witnesses called by the respective parties testified to the value of each parcel of land based upon their own personal inspection of the properties and the sales of comparable properties. In all cases, except one (where the appraisers agreed), plaintiffs (defendants in state court) obtained judgments in amounts ranging from $500 to $1,500 more than the Board's highest appraisal. Each plaintiff received an award equal to the highest amount which he claimed to be the fair market value of his property. After the state court had made its awards, counsel for the defendants (plaintiffs here) renewed by motion their "counter-complaint that the defendants be awarded attorneys' fees and ...


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