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Legal Challenge to Constitutionality of Eviction Moratorium Fails

Despite making a number of very strong arguments, and despite filing the suit far from Chicago and Cook County, the law firms challenging the constitutionality of Governor Pritzker’s eviction moratorium were told to go back to the Will County Circuit Court for a final ruling on the case.

In a recent ruling, the Third District Appellate Court refused to hear the appeal. Its reason for doing so was that the Circuit Court had not ruled on all the issues raised in the complaint. Because there were unresolved claims still pending in the Circuit Court case, the Appellate Court found it had no jurisdiction to hear the appeal. The Appellate Court did, however, affirm the denial of the Plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction. The Court stated that, irrespective of the merits of the Plaintiff’s arguments, the State of Illinois has a strong interest in preserving public health which strongly outweighs whatever harm the Plaintiff suffered due to the moratorium.

The Fall 2020 Newsletter provided a full account of the legal challenge brought by Noonan & Lieberman, Ltd. and Jeffrey Grant Brown, P.C. which you can view by clicking this link. The 10-count complaint against the Governor argued that his repeated reinstatement of the eviction moratorium was unconstitutional and caused great financial harm to property owners across the state. This complaint was filed in the Circuit Court of Will County.

In a lengthy 20 page concurring opinion, Judge McDade said the Appellate Court should have denied the preliminary injunction on the merits. If it were up to him, he would have denied the preliminary injunction on the grounds that the Plaintiff did not have a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their case.

The 42-page Appellate Court opinion provides lots of material for those who want to ponder all the legal arguments on both sides of the debate. But ultimately, the Court’s decision does not resolve or answer any of the legal issues addressed in the complaint. The case has been sent back to Judge Anderson in the Circuit Court of Will County who set briefing to be completed by July 2, 2021 and scheduled the hearing for July 15, 2021.

If there is a silver lining to the long, depressing and financially ruinous eviction moratorium from a property owner’s point of view, it is that the Governor has finally announced he will lift the moratorium in August.

But don’t think that things will magically snap back to normal. The backlog of cases is going to be enormous, and there is still huge resistance in the Cook County courts and with the Sheriff’s Office to restarting evictions of tenants who have not paid rent.

It will continue to be a struggle to recover from the enormous financial damage the moratorium has done to our industry. The reality is, there is still little sympathy among the political class or much of the public for the plight of the small property owner. Like it or not, this is the reality of being a housing provider in Illinois in 2021. We can and will continue to fight. But to say we are facing an uphill battle is certainly the understatement of the year.




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