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Caldbeck v. Chicago Park Dist.

OPINION FILED JUNE 18, 1981.

CORNELIUS CALDBECK, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ARTHUR L. DUNNE, Judge, presiding. MR. JUSTICE LINN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendants, the Chicago Park District (CPD) and certain of its officials, appeal from an order of the circuit court of Cook County directing the CPD to reissue plaintiff, Cornelius Caldbeck, a boat slip permit at the Montrose Harbor. The trial court order reverses a CPD decision to revoke plaintiff's previously issued permit. On appeal, defendants contend: (1) the trial court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the complaint for administrative review which sought the issuance of a writ of certiorari; and (2) assuming the trial court had the required jurisdiction to proceed as it did, nonetheless the trial court erred in ordering the CPD to reissue a boat slip permit to plaintiff since the decision of the CPD was not against the manifest weight of the evidence.

We reverse and enter judgment for defendants.

Procedural History

Plaintiff's complaint, captioned "Complaint at Law for Judicial Review of Administrative Findings and Decision," alleged that, prior to and during 1977, the CPD had issued to plaintiff a permit for slip 39 at Montrose Harbor. In the fall of 1977, plaintiff received notification from the CPD that his permit had been revoked for noncompliance with the rules of the CPD governing assignment of harbor mooring permits. Plaintiff allegedly violated the provision of the code which provides that permits are nontransferable and nonassignable. Plaintiff's complaint seeking administrative review concluded that defendants' decision to revoke plaintiff's permit and not to reissue it was not supported by competent evidence.

On May 17, 1978, the trial court ordered the administrative review action remanded to the CPD for a hearing de novo. The trial court's order also required that the CPD file a copy of the transcribed proceedings with the trial court. It is not apparent from the record whether there was compliance with the trial court's ruling.

On return of the matter on July 28, 1978, the trial court, pursuant to its review, reversed the initial decision of the CPD and ordered the CPD to reissue to plaintiff a permit for slip 39 at Montrose Harbor. On August 10, 1978, defendants moved to vacate the trial court's order, arguing that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to decide the case because the Administrative Review Act did not apply.

The trial court granted defendants' motion to vacate the order and gave plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint petitioning for a writ of certiorari. Plaintiff filed his amended complaint which alleged, inter alia, that the law fails to provide for a method of review or appeal from the CPD's decision and that consequently plaintiff had no remedy except by order of the court allowing a writ of certiorari to issue directing defendants to certify and bring the record of the CPD's proceedings before the trial court to determine whether the CPD's decision was against the manifest weight of the evidence. Defendants elected to stand on their motion to dismiss the complaint which the trial court had denied. Thereupon, the trial court entered a default judgment in favor of plaintiff and directed the slip permit to reissue.

Pursuant to defendants' motion to reconsider the order, the trial court, on May 22, 1979, vacated the default judgment and ordered defendants to deliver to it the record of the hearing de novo. On June 4, 1979, the trial court again entered judgment for plaintiff and again ordered defendants to issue plaintiff a permit for boat slip 39.

The Hearing

The CPD's decision to revoke plaintiff's permit and not to reissue another was based on plaintiff's violation of a CPD rule which provides that harbor mooring permits are nontransferable and nonassignable. The CPD maintained that plaintiff failed to accurately and fully disclose the ownership of the boat, "Good Guy Jim," for which the slip permit had been issued in 1976.

At the hearing, Wallace Roth, plaintiff's acquaintance, testified that he sold a 38-foot boat named the "Tico IV" to plaintiff in September 1976. Title to the boat was transferred to plaintiff by a bill of sale in January 1977. Plaintiff made installment payments of the purchase price of the vessel by check. Roth denied that he had any business relationship with Bill Boyle, and he denied that Bill Boyle was a purchaser of the boat.

Roth further stated that delivery of the boat took place at U-Banks Boat Yard in Dolton. At that time, Roth did not have a boat slip in a Chicago Park District harbor; the boat was moored at the Dolton Marina.

Gerald Pfeiffer, Director of Marine for the CPD, testified that he was in charge of the issuance and the renewal of permits for boat moorings. Pfeiffer then examined several permits which had been issued to plaintiff. The first permit, dated 1969, registered plaintiff and Robert Weiss as applicants for a mooring for a boat called "Saddle Free." This application contained both Weiss' and plaintiff's signatures. Every yearly application until 1974 contained the signatures of both Weiss and plaintiff. In 1974, plaintiff was the sole applicant for a permit for a boat called "Charlie Brown II." Pfeiffer asserted that only plaintiff's signature appeared on the application. He also noted plaintiff did not sign the application for the two previous years. In 1975, plaintiff's application for a slip permit for "Charlie Brown II" showed only plaintiff's signature.

Pfeiffer then explained that in 1976, the CPD began sending invoices which instructed applicants to indicate any changes with reference to vessel ownership or place of residence. In 1976, plaintiff's invoice indicated he had purchased a new boat named the "Good Guy Jim" of Holland, Michigan from Peter Burger. An additional paper, the "notice of change" contained plaintiff's and James McCall's name. That year, the CPD did not require plaintiff to sign a yearly permit; "it was strictly by invoice." In 1977, ...


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