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Village of Sleepy Hollow v. Pulte Home Corp.

January 27, 2003

THE VILLAGE OF SLEEPY HOLLOW, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
PULTE HOME CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. Nos. 00-CH-519 00-CH-574 Honorable Donald J. Fabian, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Bowman

UNPUBLISHED

Plaintiff, Village of Sleepy Hollow (Sleepy Hollow), appeals the denial of its motion to dismiss the petition for damages of defendant, Pulte Home Corporation (Pulte). Sleepy Hollow contends that the trial court erred in concluding that the issue of Sleepy Hollow's asserted immunity from liability is controlled by section 2--208 of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (745 ILCS 10/2--208 (West 2000)) (Immunity Act), rather than section 2--201 of the Immunity Act (745 ILCS 10/2--201 (West 2000)).

This cause of action began when Sleepy Hollow challenged the Village of West Dundee's annexation of certain property that Pulte owned and intended to develop. Sleepy Hollow obtained a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction against Pulte, preventing Pulte from developing the property pending the outcome of Sleepy Hollow's action against West Dundee. Based on this court's decision in Stroick v. Village of West Dundee, 319 Ill. App. 3d 468 (2001), the trial court dismissed Sleepy Hollow's action for injunction and dissolved the preliminary injunction against Pulte. Pulte then filed an "Amended Verified Petition for Award of Damages" (petition) against Sleepy Hollow under section 11--110 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/11--110 (West 2000)), alleging that Sleepy Hollow acted maliciously and without probable cause in instituting and maintaining its action for injunction.

Sleepy Hollow moved to dismiss Pulte's petition pursuant to section 2--619 of the Code (735 ILCS 5/2--619 (West 2000)), arguing that section 2--201 of the Immunity Act shielded it from liability. The trial court denied Sleepy Hollow's motion to dismiss, concluding that section 2--208 of the Immunity Act, rather than section 2--201, was controlling. The court then certified the following question pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 308(a) (155 Ill. 2d R. 308(a)):

"Under the circumstances of this case, and in light of Pulte's allegations in its Amended Verified Petition for Award of Damages that the Village [of Sleepy Hollow] acted maliciously and without probable cause in instituting and maintaining its action against Pulte, is the issue of tort immunity under the Illinois [sic] Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act controlled by Section 2--208 (Institution of Judicial Proceedings) or by Section 2--201 (Determination of Policy/Exercise of Discretion)?"

Sleepy Hollow timely filed an application for leave to appeal and we granted the application.

The following statutes are relevant to our analysis of the certified question:

"A local public entity is not liable for an injury resulting from an act or omission of its employee where the employee is not liable." 745 ILCS 10/2--109 (West 2000).

"Except as otherwise provided by Statute, a public employee serving in a position involving the determination of policy or the exercise of discretion is not liable for an injury resulting from his act or omission in determining policy when acting in the exercise of such discretion even though abused." 745 ILCS 10/2-- 201 (West 2000).

"A public employee is not liable for injury caused by his instituting or prosecuting any judicial or administrative proceeding within the scope of his employment, unless he acts maliciously and without probable cause." 745 ILCS 10/2--208 (West 2000).

As with all questions of statutory construction, we begin by looking at the language of the applicable statutes. The legislature's intent in enacting a statute is best determined by the plain and ordinary meaning of the statutory language. In re Chicago Flood Litigation, 176 Ill. 2d 179, 193 (1997). When the language of a statute is clear and unambiguous, the court must give it effect without resorting to other aids of construction. Chicago Flood Litigation, 176 Ill. 2d at 193. Courts should read statutes so as to yield logical and meaningful results and to avoid constructions that render specific language superfluous or meaningless. Rochelle Disposal Service, Inc. v. Pollution Control Board, 266 Ill. App. 3d 192, 198 (1994). Further, the court may not read into the statute exceptions, conditions, or limitations that the legislature did not express. Village of Bloomingdale v. CDG Enterprises, Inc., 196 Ill. 2d 484, 493 (2001). When construing immunities under the Immunity Act, a court must view the statute as a whole, with all relevant parts considered together. A.R. v. Chicago Board of Education, 311 Ill. App. 3d 29, 33 (1999).

The parties and the trial court have asked us to decide which provision "controls" under the facts of this case. Sleepy Hollow contends that both sections 2--201 and 2--208 could apply, but the immunity provided by section 2-201 is absolute and must be given effect regardless of whether section 2--208 also applies. In its brief, Pulte maintains that sections 2--201 and 2--208 conflict with each other under the circumstances presented here, and that the more specific provision, section 2--208, must apply. In oral argument, Pulte contended that there is no real conflict between sections 2--201 and 2--208, and a reading of both provisions clearly indicates that section 2--208 controls. The trial court concluded that the issue of immunity in this case is controlled by section 2--208 rather than section 2--201.

We agree with Sleepy Hollow that both statutes apply in this case. We disagree, however, that the immunity provided by section 2--201 always takes precedence over the provisions of section 2--208. The trial court reached the correct result in ruling that immunity was not available to Sleepy Hollow. However, we do not believe the correct interpretation of the statutes at issue leads to the conclusion that section 2--208 "controls" over section 2--201. Instead, we conclude that sections 2--201 and 2--208 operate in conjunction with each other under the circumstances of this case. The language of section 2-208 sets forth an exception to the immunity afforded by sections ...


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