Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign County. No. 92L782. Honorable George S. Miller, Judge Presiding.
As Corrected December 6, 1994. Released for Publication December 28, 1994.
Honorable James A. Knecht, J., Honorable John T. McCULLOUGH, P.j., Honorable Robert W. Cook, J.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Knecht
JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the opinion of the court:
Plaintiff filed a complaint for a writ of mandamus seeking to compel the Secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation to initiate condemnation proceedings for the alleged taking of her property located in Champaign County. The trial court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, declaring the Court of Claims had proper jurisdiction. Plaintiff appeals, and we affirm.
The following facts are not in dispute. Sometime in 1980 or earlier, plaintiff purchased a 75- by 1,507-foot strip of land stretching over eight parcels adjacent to the east side of Neil Street in Champaign, Illinois. The westernmost 25 feet of this strip, immediately adjacent to Neil Street, are subject to an easement "for highway purposes only," granted to defendant in 1946 and which contains a condition subsequent and reverter in case of "non-use, or nonhighway use or if used for any other purposes."
On June 23, 1992, plaintiff filed a complaint for a writ of mandamus seeking to compel the Secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation to initiate condemnation proceedings for the alleged "taking" of some or all of the 25-foot strip. On July 27, 1992, defendant filed a motion to dismiss under section 2-619 of the Code of Civil procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 1992)), claiming the action was barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. After receiving arguments, the trial court dismissed the complaint for a writ of mandamus and gave plaintiff 14 days to file an amended complaint. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint for writ of mandamus on December 13, 1993.
In the amended complaint, plaintiff alleged the 25-foot strip was subject to an easement granted the defendant and contained a reverter in case of nonuse or nonhighway use or if used for any other purpose. Plaintiff also alleged plaintiff "served notice upon Defendant regarding the reverter of the twenty-five (25) foot easement area on August 12, 1983." Plaintiff then alleged defendant had "taken," under both the Illinois and Federal constitutions, some or all of the 25-foot strip by installing a turning lane, a concrete culvert, an eight-foot-diameter concrete base, and a drainage system for "non-highway use" on the property in question. Plaintiff also alleged defendant had "taken" some or all of the 25-foot strip by denying plaintiff access to the property, by refusing to grant plaintiff entrance permits, by denying plaintiff the use of the property and the right to develop the property, by curbing the entire length of the strip, by removing plaintiff's drain tile and replacing it with defendant's drain tile, and by allowing the Illinois Power Company to install and maintain guy wires along and across the 25-foot strip since 1955.
On January 6, 1994, defendant again filed a motion to dismiss under section 2-619 of the Code, alleging "because the easement is held by the State, there is no jurisdiction in the Circuit Court for a mandamus action," and "the Illinois Court of Claims has exclusive jurisdiction over all claims against the State of Illinois." After receiving arguments, the trial court dismissed plaintiff's action with prejudice on February 1, 1994, for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Plaintiff appeals on the issue whether the circuit court has subject-matter jurisdiction in a case where the plaintiff alleges a taking of property, but the State claims record title to an easement in the property.
The 1970 Illinois Constitution abolished sovereign immunity: "Except as the General Assembly may provide by law, sovereign immunity in this State is abolished." (Ill. Const. 1970, art. XIII, § 4.) Under this authorization, the General Assembly has provided in the State Lawsuit Immunity Act:
"Except as provided in the 'Illinois Public Labor Relations Act', enacted by the 83rd General Assembly, or except as provided in 'AN ACT to create the Court of Claims, to prescribe its powers and duties, and to repeal AN ACT herein named', filed July 17, 1945, as amended, the State of Illinois shall not be made a defendant or party in any court." (745 ILCS 5/1 (West 1992).)
Section 8 of the Court of Claims Act (Act) provides:
"The Court [of Claims] shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine the following matters:
(a) All claims against the state founded upon any law of the State of Illinois * * *." (705 ...