Our team included two lawyers who did extensive research on the Lakefront Protection Ordinance and the consent decree entered into by the city of Chicago and the Park District to a decades-old law suit charging racial discrimination and rampant patronage inside the Park District. We hired attorney Thomas Ramsdell to represent our interests in Cook County Chancery Court. We made our appearance on April 16, 2008 as the recently incorporated nonprofit Protect Our Parks. We recruited several allies who lived near Lincoln Park as co-plaintiffs.
We were stunned to find a total of 13 lawyers arrayed against us when we entered the courtroom in Daley Plaza. No one from any Chicago organization was there to befriend us or support us. Only Chicago Reader reporter Ben Joravsky was there to witness our day in court. “You guys have balls of iron” he commented. Here is his story “Stop that bulldozer.”
The lead counsel for the city was John Simon of Jenner and Block. He looked very prosperous indeed and was probably billing out at $1,000/hour (Mr. Simon was appointed to the Illinois Appellate Court in 2012). Also present were the counsel for the Park District (a retired judge), the city’s corporation counsel and two lawyers working for the Latin School.
Simon argued we had no standing and asked for the case to be dismissed. Lucky for us the judge hearing the case was the Chief Judge of the Chancery Division, Dorothy Kinnaird. She swiftly dismissed Simon’s motion and proceeded to hear the case.
Over the course of a few days we placed our argument into the record while the opposition’s lawyers and assistants rushed in and out of the courtroom. What had we stumbled into? Why was there so much legal fire power lined up against us?
We are asking for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to halt construction of the soccer field until the case could be fully adjudicated. Construction had started in November of 2007 and the field was about half-finished at the time of our law suit.
After a few days of deliberation the judge granted our request but allowed construction of the artificial turf portion of the job to continue we appealed that part of her decision. The Appellate Court agreed with us and immediately overruled the judge. We settled the case on May 15 and the Park District voided the contract with the Latin School and paid Protect Our Parks $40,000 (which covered half of our legal bills). Victory. Or was it?
- Legal facts summary->Legal_Facts
- Law suit press release->Lawsuit_PR-4-15-08
- Complaint dated 4-16-08->POP_Complaint-4-16-08
- Complaint exhibits->POP_Complaint_Exhibits
- Judge’s 4-25-08 ruling granting TRO->4-25-08 Order to grant TRO
- 5-1-08 Appellate order->05-01-08 – POP v Latin – Appellate Order
- 5-15-08 order of dismissal->5-15-08 Agreed Order of Dismissal