Clausen Miller Wins School Code Case Before Illinois Supreme Court
In Anthony Lutkauskas, et al. v. Timothy Ricker, et al., 2015 IL 117090, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously affirmed dismissal of a politically charged lawsuit brought by four taxpayers against Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A. The taxpayers alleged that various School District officials, including the District’s former superintendent, violated the Illinois School Code by failing to obtain board approval to transfer monies out of the District’s working cash fund. They sought to recover millions of dollars in damages personally against the District officials, even though there were no allegations that District funds were improperly spent.
Facing an issue of first impression regarding interpretation of the School Code, Clausen Miller partner Paige Neel, representing the former School District superintendent, successfully moved for dismissal of the suit before the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. The taxpayers appealed. Paige briefed the case before the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, which affirmed.
The Illinois Supreme Court granted the taxpayers leave to appeal. Clausen Miller partner and Appellate Practice Group Co-Chair Melinda Kollross briefed and argued the case before the Illinois Supreme Court. Throughout the litigation, Melinda, Paige, and Mark concentrated their arguments on the “windfall” recovery that would result if the taxpayers were allowed to pursue damages where they had not, and could not, allege that any District funds were spent on anything other than legitimate expenses. Writing for a unanimous court, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Charles R. Freeman agreed, stating that reading the School Code in the manner suggested by the taxpayers’ “cannot be what the legislature intended.” The case should prove instrumental in future school financing litigation.
This unanimous Illinois Supreme Court decision illustrates how Clausen Miller achieves superior results for our clients–through teamwork, and the breadth and depth of our collective trial, litigation and appellate skills and experience.