Count I, that would not entitle it to a declaration that the
Village is liable for damages under Section 1983. Likewise,
Count V of the complaint, which alleges that the Wauconda
ordinance violates the Commerce Clause, does not provide a
basis for damages under Section 1983. Accordingly, to the
extent that they assert a claim for damages under Section
1983, Counts I and V of the complaint are dismissed for lack
of standing and for failure to state a claim upon which the
relief requested, damages, may be granted. Because this Court
previously has determined that the ordinance at issue is
preempted by state law as alleged in Count III, and because
federal courts are obligated to avoid constitutional issues
that need not be resolved to determine the rights of the
parties to the action before them, County Court v. Allen, 442
U.S. at 154, 99 S.Ct. at 2223, this Court need not and does not
address the remaining substantive issues posed by Counts I and
Equal Protection Claims
Count IV alleges that Ordinance No. 1984-0-31 violates the
equal protection clauses of both the United States and the
Illinois Constitutions, U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1; Ill.
Const. 1970, art. I, § 2, as well as the Illinois
Constitution's prohibition against special legislation, Ill.
Const. art. IV, § 13.*fn7 There is no question that an alleged
violation of the fourteenth amendment is cognizable under
Section 1983. Accordingly, this Court will analyze Count IV on
According to plaintiff, Ordinance No. 1984-0-31 deprives its
members of equal protection of the laws because it imposes
burdensome requirements on certain groups of pesticide users
while completely exempting other users. The Wauconda ordinance
applies only to "users of pesticides." A "user of pesticides"
is defined in § 7-12-1 of the ordinance as "(1) a person who is
engaged in the business of applying pesticides for hire, or (2)
any person who is the landlord or tenant of a building to which
the public is invited. . . ." Under the ordinance, any "user of
pesticides" must comply with the permit, application, fee,
posting, and warning requirements described above. The
Foundation complains that the ordinance imposes no requirements
whatsoever on other groups of pesticide users, such as
non-commercial applicators, homeowners, landlords and tenants
of non-public buildings, owners of golf courses and cemetaries,
The classification drawn by the Wauconda ordinance, between
"users of pesticides" and those outside the scope of that
definition, does not implicate a suspect class or a
fundamental right. Therefore, "[t]he requirement imposed by
both the Illinois and the Federal Equal Protection clauses is
that [the] legislative classification must bear a rational
relationship to the purpose of the legislation." People v.
Keeven, 68 Ill. App.3d 91, 100, 24 Ill.Dec. 663, 669,
385 N.E.2d 804, 810 (1979) (citation omitted). See also Massachusetts
Board of Retirement
v. Murgia, 427 U.S. 307, 312, 96 S.Ct. 2562, 2566, 49 L.Ed.2d
Defendants claim that the Wauconda ordinance's legislative
classification is reasonably related to the Village's main
purpose in enacting the ordinance: to protect the public
health. According to defendants, the ordinance requires the
posting of notices that pesticides have just been sprayed or
applied in order to warn persons susceptible to adverse
reactions to the chemicals of the presence of those
pesticides. As defendants explain, persons likely to have an
adverse reaction to a pesticide are more likely to come into
contact with a pesticide which is applied in a building open
to the public than with a pesticide applied in a private area,
such as a home or garage. Similarly, a commercial applicator,
who sprays and applies pesticides for a living, is likely to
apply pesticides within the Village more often than private
individuals, so that a pesticide-sensitive person is more
likely to come into contact with pesticides applied by a
The Foundation argues that persons who are sensitive to
pesticides will have an adverse reaction regardless of who
applies the pesticide. Plaintiff submitted an uncontroverted
affidavit from Leonard Conley, an agronomist for a commercial
lawn care operator, stating that commercial applicators apply
the same pesticides that are used by the general public (Mem.
in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, Exhibit
J). The Foundation also contends that it is irrational to
exclude from regulation homeowners who have little knowledge
of the proper use of pesticides and have not been trained or
In order for a legislative enactment to withstand an equal
protection challenge, however, it is not necessary that the
problem it addresses be eliminated in its entirety. A
legislative body's "statutory classifications will be set
aside only if no grounds can be conceived to justify them.
[citations omitted] With this much discretion, a legislature
traditionally has been allowed to take reform `one step at a
time, addressing itself to the phase of the problem which
seems most acute to the legislative mind. . . .'" McDonald v.
Board of Election Commissioners, 394 U.S. 802, 809, 89 S.Ct.
1404, 1408, 22 L.Ed.2d 739 (1969), quoting Williamson v. Lee
Optical Company of Oklahoma, Inc., 348 U.S. 483, 75 S.Ct. 461,
99 L.Ed. 563 (1955). Thus, the Wauconda ordinance does not
violate the Equal Protection Clause simply because it does not
regulate all persons or entities who might apply pesticides
within the Village.
This Court finds that the classification drawn by the
ordinance is reasonably related to the purpose of the
ordinance and holds that Ordinance No. 1984-0-31 does not
deprive the Foundation's members of equal protection of the
The Foundation also claims that the Wauconda ordinance
violates the Illinois Constitution's prohibition against
special legislation. "Special legislation confers a special
benefit or exclusive privilege on a person or a group of
persons to the exclusion of others similarly situated. It
arbitrarily, and without a sound, reasonable basis,
discriminates in favor of a select group. . . ." Illinois
Polygraph Society v. Pellicano, 83 Ill.2d 130, 137-38, 46
Ill.Dec. 574, 578-79, 414 N.E.2d 458, 462-63 (1980) (emphasis
in original; citations omitted).
Plaintiff fails to explain to this Court's satisfaction the
manner in which the Wauconda ordinance confers a special
benefit on a select group. In addition, Illinois courts have
adopted the same "rational basis" test used in equal
protection challenges for determining whether legislation
violates the prohibition against special legislation.
Therefore, because the complaint fails to state a cause of
action for violation of the equal protection clauses, it also
fails to state a cause of action for violation of the Illinois
Constitution's prohibition against special legislation.
Because Count IV is the only one of plaintiff's claims that
is cognizable under Section 1983, this Court can not grant
plaintiff's request for a declaration of defendants'
liability, even if plaintiff did have standing to request such
Accordingly, Count IV of the complaint is dismissed for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and
plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is granted.
For the reasons stated above, defendants' motion to dismiss
Count III is denied and plaintiff's motion for summary
judgment on Count III is granted, with the exception of its
request for a declaration of defendants' liability for
damages. Counts I and V of the complaint are dismissed to the
extent that those Counts request a declaration of defendants'
liability for damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants'
motion to dismiss Count IV is granted in full. Accordingly,
this case is disposed of in full.
This Court declares that Ordinance No. 1984-0-31 is invalid
under Illinois law, and therefore was void ab initio. This
Court further enjoins defendants from enforcing Ordinance No.
1984-0-31. Plaintiff's request that this Court declare that
defendants are liable for the costs of compliance with
Ordinance No. 1984-0-31 is denied.