Illinois Appellate Court Finds for City in Demolition Case

Author: Jacob D. Caudill

June 23, 2016

Recently, an Illinois appellate court dealt with an issue concerning a municipality’s ability to demolish structures that pose a nuisance. At issue was whether the municipality was required to give additional notice to a purchaser who had subsequently purchased the property after the municipality had filed a lis pendens stating its authorization to demolish the structure.

Specifically, a city’s motion to demolish the structure was granted in March 2006. The city subsequently provided notice to the public and filed a lis pendens pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/2-1901. In December 2007, the plaintiff purchased the property from Kankakee County for $10. In March 2011, and pursuant to the 2006 proceedings, the City issued a permit to demolish the structure. In March 2012, Plaintiff learned of the City’s plan to demolish the structure and asked that the demolition be postponed. The City denied this request and proceeded with the demolition as scheduled.

In August 2013, the Plaintiff filed a suit for damages alleging, among other things, that the City failed to properly notify the plaintiff of the pending demolition. The trial court granted summary judgment on behalf of the city because the City was not required to seek out subsequent purchasers beyond filing a lis pendens notice.

On appeal, the Plaintiff attempted to argue that the extensive delay in demolition was a violation of the Municipal code. However, the Plaintiff cited no authority mandating that demolition orders be carried out in a specific timeframe after being granted. In rejecting the Plaintiff’s argument, the appellate court found that the delay in the demolition did not automatically render the City’s actions counter to the purpose of the Municipal Code.

The appellate court further found that, as a matter of law, the plaintiff had notice of the demolition by way of the City’s lis pendens notice. The court continued stating “nothing in the language of section 11-31-1(a) of the Municipal Code requires a municipality to notify subsequent purchasers of prior property actions or complete the actions within a specific time frame.”

This case serves to bolster any argument that a municipality is not required to notify subsequent purchasers of prior actions taken by the municipality.