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Forest Preserve District of DU Page County v. Loren and Gisela Brown Family Trust

July 17, 2001

THE FOREST PRESERVE DISTRICT OF DU PAGE COUNTY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT AND CROSS-APPELLEE
v.
LOREN AND GISELA BROWN FAMILY TRUST, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE AND CROSS-APPELLANT, BRUCE GORDON, DARTMOOR HOMES ACQUISITION CORPORATION, AND UNKNOWN OTHERS, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 98--ED--17 Honorable Hollis L. Webster, Judge, Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice O'malley

UNPUBLISHED

Plaintiff, the Forest Preserve District of Du Page County (the District), appeals the trial court's entry of summary judgment in favor of defendants, the Loren and Gisela Brown Family Trust (the Browns), Bruce Gordon, Dartmoor Homes Acquisition Corp. (Dartmoor), and unknown others. On appeal, the District argues that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of defendants. In the nonpublishable portion of this opinion, we address the District's contention that the trial court erred in denying the District's motion to disqualify the Browns' counsel. We also address therein the Browns' cross-appeal of the trial court's orders striking portions of their traverse and motion to dismiss and denying their motion to reconsider.

FACTS

On May 19, 1998, the District passed Ordinance No. 98--206, which authorized the District's executive director, staff, and attorneys (collectively, the staff) to enter into negotiations for the acquisition of property owned by the Browns. The ordinance provided in relevant part:

"WHEREAS, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Illinois has determined a valuation for said fee simple parcel which it believes to represent a fair amount to be offered to the owners of said property.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED by the President and the Board of Commissioners of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Illinois, as follows:

1. That it is necessary and desirable that the real estate described in Exhibit A and depicted in Exhibit B attached hereto, be acquired in fee simple by the said Forest Preserve District for one or more of the purposes set forth.

2. That the Executive Director, his staff and the Forest Preserve District attorneys be, and hereby are, authorized to negotiate for the acquisition of the property in fee simple described in Exhibit A and depicted in Exhibit B.

3. That the Executive Director, his staff, and the Forest Preserve District attorneys be, and are hereby authorized, to respond to each individual property owner who expresses a desire to convey less than fee simple, either by less than the entire parcel of real estate or by conservation easement, by fully receiving the property owners proposal and submitting a report to the Forest Preserve District Land Acquisition Committee evaluating the extent to which said lesser acquisition compromises the need and desire for the fee simple acquisition, and the cost of effectiveness of said compromise. No fee simple acquisition shall be reduced or altered without approval of the President and Forest Preserve District Board of Commissioners." Forest Preserve District of Du Page County, Ordinance No. 98--206 (eff. May 19, 1998).

The District and the Browns did not reach an agreement.

On June 2, 1998, the District passed Ordinance No. 98--228, which provided in relevant part:

"WHEREAS, on the 19th day of May, 1998, Ordinance No. 98--206 was adopted providing for the negotiation for the acquisition of the property described in Exhibit A and depicted in Exhibit B attached hereto; and

WHEREAS, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Illinois, has attempted to negotiate the purchase of said property but has been unable to agree with the owners of the property concerning just compensation.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED by the President and board of Commissioners of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Illinois, as follows:

1. That it is necessary and desirable that the real estate described in Exhibit A and depicted in Exhibit B attached hereto, be acquired in fee simple by the said Forest Preserve District for one or more of the purposes set forth.

2. That the Executive Director, his staff and the Forest Preserve District attorneys be, and hereby are, authorized to take the necessary steps, either by negotiation or condemnation, to acquire title to the real estate described in Exhibit A and depicted in Exhibit B attached hereto, and to continue to negotiate for the acquisition of the property described in Exhibit A and depicted in Exhibit B." Forest Preserve District of Du Page County, Ordinance No. 98--228 (eff. June 2, 1998).

On July 8, 1998, the District filed a complaint for condemnation. The complaint named the Browns as owners of the real estate and listed defendants Bruce Gordon and Dartmoor Homes Acquisition Corp. as other interested parties. In response, the Browns filed a traverse and motion to dismiss, asserting, among other things, that the complaint for condemnation was filed without proper and lawful authority.

[The following material is nonpublishable under Supreme ...


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