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Wortham v. The City of Chicago Dep't of Admin. Hearings

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division

May 1, 2015

CHARLETTE WORTHAM, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
THE CITY OF CHICAGO DEPARTMENT OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS, and CHICAGO ANIMAL CARE AND CONTROL, Defendants-Appellees

Page 916

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 917

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 12 M1 450418. Honorable Mark Ballard, Judge Presiding.

For APPELLANT: Law Offices of Tracy McGonigle, of Woodstock (Tracy McGonigle, of counsel)

For APPELLEE: Stephen R. Patton, Corporation Counsel of the City of Chicago (Benne Ruth Solomon, Deputy Corporation Counsel, Myriam Zreczny Kasper, Chief Assistant Corporation Counsel, and Julian N. Henriques, Jr., Senior Counsel, of counsel).

JUSTICE PALMER delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices McBride and Reyes concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Page 918

PALMER, JUSTICE.

[¶1] This is an administrative review action. Following a hearing, the City of Chicago department of administrative hearings (the Department) found that three Rottweilers owned by plaintiff, Charlette Wortham, were " dangerous animals" under section 7-12-020 of Municipal Code of Chicago (the Code) (Chicago Municipal Code § 7-12-020 (amended Nov. 19, 2008). Under that section, a dangerous animal is " any animal which bites, inflicts injury on, kills or otherwise attacks a human being or domestic animal without provocation on any public or private property." Id. Plaintiff sought administrative review in the circuit court of Cook County, which affirmed the Department's judgment. Plaintiff now appeals.

[¶2] Following an incident between her three Rottweilers and a pit bull owned by John Young on January 11, 2012, plaintiff received a letter of determination from the executive director of the City's department of animal care and control (DACC) that her dogs were " dangerous animals." On June 26, 2012, the Department held a hearing regarding that determination before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Plaintiff appeared at the hearing pro se. The following evidence was presented at that hearing.

[¶3] John Young testified that on January 11, 2012, he was in an unfenced portion of his yard with his unleashed pit bull, Brandy. Young saw plaintiff walking four leashed Rottweilers down the street and shortly thereafter he noticed that three of those dogs had broken away from plaintiff and were dragging their leashes on the ground. The three Rottweilers ran into his yard and attacked Brandy by biting her tail and body. Young's daughter then came out of the house and helped him pull the Rottweilers off of Brandy. Brandy's tail was almost bitten off and she had bite marks on her upper thigh. Young took Brandy to a veterinarian and spent over $2,500 for treatment. Young's daughter, Cashara, testified that she saw the Rottweilers attacking Brandy after she came out of the house and she assisted in pulling the Rottweilers off of Brandy.

[¶4] J. Franklin executed an affidavit that was admitted into evidence without objection. Franklin stated in his affidavit that he drove by the Young residence and saw three Rottweilers who were being walked by a woman break away from the woman, run into Young's yard, and attack a pit bull.

[¶5] Chicago police officer Ruben Orta testified that he went to the Young residence on January 11, 2012, after he was assigned to investigate the above dog-biting incident. Officer Orta spoke to Young, who told him that plaintiff's dogs were on the leash when Brandy " ran up to" the Rottweilers on the sidewalk in front of Young's property. The dogs then got into a fight. Officer Orta also testified that he did not think plaintiff was able to control all four of her leashed dogs because of their massive size, but he ...


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