Firm Amicus Curiae Brief Cited in Illinois Supreme Court Ruling

Firm Amicus Curiae Brief Cited in Illinois Supreme Court Ruling
March 20, 2014

Arnstein & Lehr LLP Chicago Partners Allan Goldberg, Hal Morris, and Laura Lau Marinelli led a team of lawyers from the firm in the drafting of an amicus curiae brief filed on March 6, 2013 with the Illinois Supreme Court on behalf of the Community Associations Institute – Illinois Chapter (CAI-IL). The firm represented CAI-IL on a pro bono basis.  Additional team members included Chicago Associates Katelyn Miller and Elizabeth Thompson. CAI-IL serves the educational, business, and networking needs of community associations in the Chicagoland area. Members include condominium, cooperative, and homeowner associations, as well as those who provide services and products to associations. The Illinois Chapter has more than 1,100 members including 250 businesses, and more than 500 community association board members and unit owners representing more than 100,000 homeowners.

On March 20, 2014, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in Spanish Court Two Condominium Association v. Lisa Carlson, 2014 IL 115342, and cited the firm’s amicus brief. At issue was whether a condominium “association’s purported failure to repair or maintain the common elements is germane to the proceeding [for forcible entry and detainer], and thus may be raised by the unit owner in defense.”  The Court held, as urged by our amicus filing, that the purported failure to repair and maintain common elements is not germane and, therefore, not a viable defense to an action based on a failure to pay assessments.  In reaching this ruling, the Supreme Court rejected analogies to landlord-tenant law, noted that a contrary finding would be inconsistent with the expeditious nature of forcible entry proceedings, is not statutorily permitted under the Condominium Act, and would upset the operation of condominiums.  In making this ruling, the Court adopted our arguments, including those concerning statutory construction and our analogy that a taxpayer cannot lawfully refuse to pay a tax because of a disagreement with the taxing body so a condominium owner should similarly not be permitted.  The impact of this ruling is significant to common interest associations and their ability to secure the payment of assessments.