Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Bill Threatens to Assess Costs of Administrative Adjudication Appeals to Local Governments

Senate Bill 2829 was filed by Terry Link of the 30th Legislative District. If passed, it would make a local government pay the other party’s costs of appeal (including attorney’s fees) if the appeal successfully overturns an administrative adjudication or code hearing decision. Furthermore, if the appellate court determines that either the decision was clearly erroneous or the opposing party’s due process rights were abridged, the municipality will be liable for all of the opposing party’s costs from the inception of the case, not just the appeal.

The cost provision is not reciprocal, meaning the municipality cannot recover its legal costs if the municipality successfully defends an appeal or successfully appeals a case not originally ruled in its favor. The bill is entirely one-sided in favor of the non-government party.

One ramification from the bill would be that local governments will likely see more administrative review challenges. An administrative respondent who is deemed liable by the administrative law judge has an incentive to appeal not only the merits of the case, but also to appeal in the hopes of coercing the municipality to not fight the underlying violation if it may be liable for more than just its own attorney’s costs. Attorneys may also be more willing to represent administrative respondents if payment for their effort may come from a local government.

Also, a local government may more closely scrutinize who it hires as its administrative law judge, as well as the decisions the judge makes.

The Illinois Municipal League has already voiced its opinion against the bill.

William C. Westfall

Author: William C. Westfall