from the Circuit Court of Boone County. No. 14-CH-170
Honorable C. Robert Tobin III and Philip J. Nicolosi, Judges,
JUSTICE BIRKETT delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Zenoff and Schostok concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Defendants, Plote Construction, Inc., Belvidere Materials,
LLC, and Chicago Land Title and Trust Company, appeal an
order of the circuit court of Boone County holding them in
indirect civil contempt for violating an injunctive order
entered in favor of plaintiff, the County of Boone.
Defendants argue that the injunctive order expired prior to
the conduct that was the basis for the contempt finding and,
alternatively, that plaintiff failed to prove that
defendants' conduct violated the terms of the injunction.
We reject these contentions and affirm.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 In March 2005, defendants, who were contract purchasers of
property on which they desired to operate a quarry, sued
plaintiff to challenge its prohibition on quarrying
activities in the zoning district containing the property. In
September 2005, plaintiff and defendants entered into a
settlement agreement (the Settlement Agreement) in which
plaintiff agreed to issue defendants a special-use permit for
"the extraction of minerals and earth materials"
from the property. Section 3(b) of the Settlement Agreement
contained the following restriction on defendants'
"(b) The hours of operation for the quarrying activities
to be conducted on the Subject Property shall be from 6:00
a.m. to 6:00 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays and there shall be
no operations conducted on Sunday or legal holidays,
unless the County permits less restrictive hours and days
of operations to other mining operations subject to its
control in which event the less restrictive regulations shall
apply to the Subject Property to the same extent and for the
same periods as those which apply to such other mining
operations. ***" (Emphasis added.)
refer to the italicized language as the "least
restrictive hours" clause.
4 In June 2014, plaintiff enacted Ordinance No. 14-21 (the
Ordinance) (Boone County Code of Ordinances No. 14-21 (eff.
June 18, 2014), which granted defendants "a special use
for a quarry" on the property. The Ordinance specified
"hours of operation for the quarrying activities to be
conducted on the property." The hours were the same as
those specified in the Settlement Agreement. Defendants
operated the quarry under the name "Beverly
5 On August 21, 2014, plaintiff filed a complaint seeking
preliminary and permanent injunctive relief barring
defendants from operating the quarry outside the hours
specified in the Ordinance. Four days later, plaintiff filed
a motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a
preliminary injunction. Plaintiff alleged in the complaint
and the motion that it had received numerous complaints of
"quarrying activity outside the allowable hours of
operation." In response to these complaints, one of
plaintiff's building inspectors, Drew Bliss, conducted a
site inspection of defendants' property on three separate
dates in August 2014. On those dates, Bliss observed
"quarrying activity *** being performed *** in violation
of the Ordinance, " namely outside the permitted hours.
Plaintiff attached an affidavit from Bliss, who averred that,
on the three dates in August 2014, he observed
"quarrying activity" taking place on
defendants' property outside permitted hours. Bliss's
affidavit did not specify the "quarrying activity"
he observed. However, plaintiff also attached an August 13,
2014, letter from Bliss to defendants. In the letter, Bliss
informed defendants that, at 7:06 p.m. on August 12, 2014, he
observed a "front[-]end loader *** moving aggregate
within the quarry." Bliss stated that he considered this
activity to be "quarrying activity."
6 Plaintiff served defendants with copies of its pleadings
and informed them of the date on which the motion for
injunctive relief would be heard. Meanwhile, defendants moved
to dismiss the complaint. In their motion, defendants alleged
that the activity Bliss observed at defendants' quarry on
the three dates in August occurred within the operating hours
that plaintiff granted to another quarrying operation,
Quality Aggregates. Therefore, according to defendants, the
"least restrictive hours" clause in the Settlement
Agreement applied and defendants were not in violation of the
7 On November 24, 2014, the trial court issued a memorandum
of decision. The court began by noting that previously, on
November 13, the court held a hearing on plaintiffs'
motion for injunctive relief and defendant's motion to
dismiss. The record contains no report of proceedings of the
hearing. The court further stated in the memorandum that on
November 13 it "entered oral rulings" on both
motions and "advised the parties that [the court] would
issue a memorandum of decision clarifying its basis for such
rulings." Notably, the record contains no order from
November 13 memorializing the oral rulings entered that day.
8 In the body of the memorandum, the court found that
plaintiff satisfied the elements for a TRO. The court
concluded the memorandum by stating: "Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss is denied. Plaintiff's Motion for
Temporary Restraining Order is granted." The court did
not specify the conduct from which defendants were barred or
specify a duration for the injunction. ¶ 9 Defendants
did not take an immediate appeal from the November 2014
injunctive order. Instead, defendants filed (1) an answer to
the complaint, (2) an affirmative defense based on the
"least restrictive hours" clause, and (3) a
"Counterclaim for Declaratory Judgment to Enforce [the
Settlement Agreement]." Plaintiff moved to dismiss the
affirmative defense and the counterclaim, but the court
denied the motion.
10 In June 2015, plaintiff filed a petition for a rule to
show cause for indirect civil contempt. Plaintiff alleged
that defendants willfully violated the November 2014
injunctive order by conducting quarrying activities beyond
the permitted hours of operation, as observed by Bliss.
Plaintiff attached an affidavit from Bliss, who averred that,
on three separate dates in June 2015, he observed vehicles
enter the quarry, receive loads of aggregate, and leave.
Bliss referred to these activities as "quarrying
11 In July 2015, defendants filed a motion to strike the
petition, under section 2-615 of the Code of Civil Procedure
(Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 2014) (dismissal for failure
to state a cause of action upon which relief can be
granted)). They argued that the loading and hauling of
materials, as observed by Bliss, did not ...