Appeal from the Circuit Court of Madison County. No. 02-CH-626 Honorable Ralph J. Mendelsohn, Judge, presiding.
Justices: Honorable Melissa A. Chapman, P.J., Honorable Thomas M. Welch, J., and Honorable Clyde L. Kuehn, J., Concur
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Chapman
The defendants, Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Linda Renee Baker and former Governor George Ryan, appealed an order of the Madison County circuit court that enjoined the Department of Human Services (DHS) from closing the Alton Mental Health Center (Alton) and ordered it to follow the procedures contained in the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Act (Planning Act) (20 ILCS 3960/1 et seq. (West 2002)), which require a permit from the Health Facilities Planning Board (Planning Board) before any health facility can be modified (20 ILCS 3960/5 (West 2002)). They contend that (1) the plaintiffs lack standing to bring the instant action, (2) some plaintiffs are barred by principles of collateral estoppel from raising the issues involved, (3) the action is barred by sovereign immunity, and (4) the Planning Act does not require a permit to close Alton's civil unit. We agree that the private plaintiffs lack standing, but we find that the State's Attorney may maintain this action, and we affirm the trial court's order.
Alton, which is run by DHS, provides residential mental health care services in two distinct and separate units: the forensic unit treats patients who are committed through the criminal justice system, while the civil unit provides care to patients who are civilly committed. In June 2002, due to a reduction in the funding allocated for Alton, DHS announced plans to close the civil unit at Alton. A plan entitled "Preliminary Plan for the Restructuring of the Metro East Network Community Mental Health Service System" called for several patients in Alton's civil unit to be transferred to the Choate Mental Health Facility (Choate) in Anna, Illinois. Choate is 142 miles from Alton. Some of these patients were transferred to Choate during the summer of 2002. The plan called for other patients to be transferred to private hospitals in the Metro East area, which would provide services to them through contracts with DHS. The remaining patients were to be discharged and referred to nonresidential mental health services in the community.
The plaintiffs in the instant suit are the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31 (AFSCME), a union representing Alton employees; Gina Rives, a pharmacy technician employed at Alton who serves on the executive board of AFSCME Local 124; and William Mudge, the State's Attorney of Madison County, the county in which Alton is situated. Mudge was substituted as a party for his predecessor as State's Attorney, William Haine, who had sued in his official capacity on behalf of the people of Madison County. On August 14, 2002, the plaintiffs filed a complaint seeking to enjoin the defendants from closing the civil unit at Alton until they had complied with the permit requirement of the Planning Act (20 ILCS 3960/5 (West 2002)). On the same day, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order. On August 22, the parties entered into a "standstill agreement," pursuant to which the defendants agreed not to close the civil unit until the court held a final hearing on the merits. The agreement further provided that the parties would stipulate to the relevant facts in the case, in order to expedite the final hearing. Because the standstill agreement rendered it moot, the plaintiffs voluntarily withdrew their motion for a temporary restraining order.
On September 18, 2002, the parties entered into a stipulation of facts. The same day, the trial court heard oral arguments in the matter and granted the plaintiffs' request for a permanent injunction. On October 8, the defendants filed a motion to reconsider, which the court denied on October 18. This appeal followed.
A. Right to Bring Enforcement Actions Under the Planning Act
The defendants contend that the plaintiffs lack standing to bring the instant action. In so contending, they argue that the Planning Act does not allow for suits either by private citizens or by State's Attorneys to enforce its permitting provisions. They further argue that AFSCME's and Rives' interests in the litigation are insufficient to confer standing and that both AFSCME and Rives are barred by collateral estoppel because the issues presented herein were decided adversely to them in American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, Council 31 v. Ryan, 332 Ill. App. 3d 866, 773 N.E.2d 739 (2002). There, with one judge dissenting, the Fourth District of the Illinois Appellate Court held that private plaintiffs, including AFSCME, did not have a right to bring an action to enforce the permit requirement of the Planning Act. Ryan, 332 Ill. App. 3d at 872, 773 N.E.2d at 743. For the reasons that follow, we find that the Planning Act does not preclude an enforcement action by the Madison County State's Attorney. We agree, however, that the Planning Act does not contemplate private enforcement actions by plaintiffs in the position of AFSCME and Rives. Thus, we need not reach the parties' arguments relating to collateral estoppel or AFSCME's and Rives' standing.
In Ryan the Fourth District faced facts nearly identical to those before us. There, much the same as here, the plaintiffs included AFSCME and one of its officers who was an employee of the Lincoln Development Center. Additional plaintiffs included the state representative in whose district the center was located and the parents of a long-term resident and patient of the center. Ryan, 332 Ill. App. 3d at 869, 773 N.E.2d at 741. Early in 2002, DHS began developing alternate plans to either downsize or close the Lincoln Development Center. Ryan, 332 Ill. App. 3d at 869, 773 N.E.2d at 741. The plaintiffs filed an action seeking to enjoin DHS from closing the center without first obtaining a permit. Ryan, 332 Ill. App. 3d at 869, 773 N.E.2d at 741. The trial court entered a preliminary injunction ordering the defendants to obtain a permit prior to implementing their plans to downsize the center, and the defendants appealed. Ryan, 332 Ill. App. 3d at 870, 773 N.E.2d at 741. While the initial appeal was pending, however, DHS decided that it would close Lincoln Development Center, and Secretary Baker applied for a permit. Ryan, 332 Ill. App. 3d at 869, 773 N.E.2d at 741. As a result, the pending appeal was dismissed as moot. Ryan, 332 Ill. App. 3d at 870, 773 N.E.2d at 741.
The plaintiffs next filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to enjoin DHS from transferring patients from the center until the Planning Board ruled on its permit application. The trial court granted the motion and the defendants appealed. Ryan, 332 Ill. App. 3d at 870, 773 N.E.2d at 741.
Although the parties raised other issues, the appellate court considered only whether the plaintiffs before it were authorized to bring the underlying action. Writing for the majority, Justice Steigmann examined sections 15 and 17 of the Planning Act (20 ILCS ...