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City of Chicago Heights v. Furrer

OPINION FILED AUGUST 17, 1981.

THE CITY OF CHICAGO HEIGHTS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

EMERY C. FURRER ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RICHARD H. JORZAK, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE GOLDBERG DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This action was brought on January 10, 1978, by the City of Chicago Heights (plaintiff) to demolish the White Hotel (Hotel), a building owned by Emery Furrer (defendant). An ex parte judgment for demolition was entered on April 28, 1978. On May 19, 1978, defendant moved to vacate the judgment. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 110, par. 50(5).) This motion was denied by the trial court on May 1, 1980, almost 2 years later. The court then ordered that the judgment for demolition be put into full force and effect. Defendant appeals.

The plaintiff's complaint listed seven categories of housing code violations:

"a. Broken, loose or missing plaster.

b. Cluttered with debris, old washer tank, and softener.

c. Water closet inoperable.

d. Tubs stained.

e. All rooms need repair and painting of walls and ceilings.

f. Broken window panes.

g. Electrical violations."

The verified complaint further alleged the housing code enforcement officer of plaintiff, Joseph Ignelzi, had determined the Hotel to be "dangerous and unsafe or uncompleted and abandoned." The judgment for demolition found plaintiff had fully sustained the allegation that the Hotel is "dangerous and in an unsafe condition." Neither party has been able to produce a report of these proceedings prior to entry of judgment.

Defendant's motion to vacate the judgment for demolition alleged the code violations complained of were repairable and stated defendant and his counsel had "exercised reasonable diligence." A hearing on this motion was set for May 26, 1978. Defendant failed to appear on that day and his motion was stricken. The trial court reinstated defendant's motion and continued the hearing to June 2, 1978.

On June 2, 1978, the judgment for demolition was stayed and the motion to vacate continued until July 28, 1978. Defendant was ordered to secure the building and present evidence of his financial ability to complete the necessary repairs by July 28.

Thereafter there were approximately 11 additional hearings from time to time on various subjects such as repairing the Hotel and cost thereof, possibility of loans for repair purposes and efforts by defendant to sell the property. Defendant failed to comply with any of various orders entered by the trial court concerning these matters.

On November 16, 1979, the trial court conducted a hearing as to whether defendant was going to rehabilitate the Hotel and whether the court should further stay the judgment for demolition. Defendant testified he obtained building permits from plaintiff. He stated an unnamed plumbing subcontractor had done some plumbing repairs on the Hotel but that a "stop work order" had been posted at the Hotel by plaintiff. Defendant could not recall the name of the general contractor nor could he recall if an architect's drawings had been required. Defendant could not recall that he had been required by ...


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