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Illinois Municipal League Risk Management Association v. City of Collinsville

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

March 30, 2018

ILLINOIS MUNICIPAL LEAGUE RISK MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CITY OF COLLINSVILLE, ILLINOIS, an Illinois Municipal Corporation, and MARK SCHMIDT, Defendants City of Collinsville, Illinois, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County, No. 12-MR-230; the Hon. John P. Schmidt, Judge, presiding.

          Steven Giacoletto, of Giacoletto Law Firm, of Collinsville, for appellant.

          Mitchell A. Orpett and David E. Schroeder, of Tribler Orpett & Meyer, P.C., of Chicago, for appellee.

          Panel KNECHT JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Holder White and DeArmond concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          KNECHT JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Defendant, the City of Collinsville, Illinois, an Illinois municipal corporation (City), appeals from the trial court's order granting summary judgment in favor of plaintiff, the Illinois Municipal League Risk Management Association (Association). On appeal, the City argues the trial court erred in finding the Association had no obligation to defend or indemnify it against claims asserted in Madison County case No. 11-L-1306. We disagree and affirm.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 A. Complaint for Declaratory Judgment

         ¶ 4 In March 2012, the Association filed a complaint for declaratory judgment under section 2-701 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-701 West 2010)), which it later amended. The amended complaint was filed against the City and Mark Schmidt. Schmidt is not a party to this appeal. In its amended complaint, the Association sought a declaration providing it had no obligation to defend or indemnify the City against claims asserted in Madison County case No. 11-L-1306.

         ¶ 5 1. Madison County Case No. 11-L-1306

         ¶ 6 The pertinent facts of Madison County case No. 11-L-1306 are not in dispute. Schmidt, on behalf of both himself and a putative class (plaintiffs), filed a complaint against the City relating to the enforcement of a local ordinance. The ordinance required an individual whose vehicle has been towed and impounded in connection with certain criminal offenses to pay a $500 administrative fee to the City prior to obtaining the release of his or her impounded vehicle. The plaintiffs argued the ordinance violated their due process rights because the administrative fee was not related to the costs of services provided and served no rational purpose. They requested the trial court to "award the return of all monies received by [the City] to date and to the time of trial in this cause via assessment of the [a]dministrative [f]ee, award costs of suit[, ] and for all other relief to which [the plaintiffs] may be entitled." See generally Carter v. City of Alton, 2015 IL App (5th) 130544, 32 N.E.3d 1129 (reversing the trial court's dismissal of plaintiffs' complaint and remanding for further proceedings).

         ¶ 7 As part of their request for class certification, the plaintiffs asserted certain common questions of law and fact existed, including whether (1) the administrative fee violated their due process or other constitutional rights, (2) injunctive or declaratory relief was proper, and (3) the City willfully and wantonly instituted the administrative fee. The plaintiffs also asserted class certification was proper, as each individual "claim *** [was] relatively small, so that individual litigation [was] not economically feasible[, ] [and the City] derive[d] enormous aggregate profits from depriving [them] of the amount of [$500] each."

         ¶ 8 2. Coverage Grants

         ¶ 9 The Association had issued to the City certain "coverage grants, " which undisputedly were effective during the period the plaintiffs' alleged injuries occurred. The coverage grants provided the City with different types of liability coverage. The coverage grants are separated ...


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