Pretzel & Stouffer

Victory for the Glen Ellyn Park District

Matthew J. Egan won a significant victory recently for the Glen Ellyn Park District when the court in DuPage County granted its motion to dismiss, with prejudice, all claims against Park District arising from substantial damages the plaintiffs’ home sustained on three occasions (September 2008, July, 2010, and April 2013) when massive rain storms caused Lake Ellyn, which is part of Lake Ellyn Park, to overflow its banks and flood the plaintiffs’ home. One of the plaintiffs also alleged that he sustained a serious back injury, requiring surgery, in July, 2010 when he tried to protect his children from the tide of the flood at his home.

The plaintiffs filed suit against the Park District and the Village of Glen Ellyn in September, 2013. They alleged that in 1990, the Park District agreed to allow the Village to use Lake Ellyn for storm water retention even though both the Village and the Park District knew that the amount of water the Village was sending into Lake Ellyn exceeded the storage capacity of the Lake during heavy rainstorms and would necessarily cause water from the Lake to overflow a dam and then follow an overland path, on which the plaintiffs’ home was situated, toward the DuPage River.

The plaintiffs sought 1) damages against both the Park District and the Village under Article I, Section 15 of the Illinois Constitution claiming that the Village and the Park District were using the plaintiffs’ property as part of the Village’s storm water system, 2) a declaratory judgment that the actions of the Village and the Park District created an unreasonably dangerous condition that caused plaintiffs’ claimed damages, and 3) an injunction to restrain the Village and the Park District from conducting any “upstream improvements” that would increase either the amount or the rate of flow of storm water into Lake Ellyn.

After extensive briefing and oral argument, the court agreed that the Park District had absolute immunity from suit under the Tort Immunity Act, that the plaintiffs’ cause of action was extinguished by the construction statute of repose because the Park District had constructed improvements to the Lake’s flood control system in 1992, and that the plaintiffs’ damages claims arising from the 2008 and 2010 rainstorms were barred by the statute of limitations. Therefore, all causes of action were dismissed.

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