Business owners, public employees argue state owes lost revenue, wages
Gov. JB Pritzker addresses the media Friday during a news conference in his Capitol office in Springfield. (Pool photo by Justin L. Fowler/State Journal-Register of Springfield)
Lawsuit: Property seizure violates U.S., Illinois constitutions
By REBECCA ANZEL
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s executive orders shuttering non-essential businesses and workplaces indefinitely is unconstitutional, three business owners and two county officials claim in a lawsuit filed in federal court, because the state has not provided monetary compensation.
Both the U.S. and Illinois constitutions provide that private property cannot be confiscated for public use “without just compensation.” Illinois’ governing document adds that property also cannot be damaged.
“The governor and the state have seized without compensation the property and businesses and the livelihoods of individuals across the state, forcing indefinite closures and layoffs of thousands of people,” according to the lawsuit.
They are asking a judge to order the state to pay all “similarly situated persons, companies and entities ... just compensation.”
Pritzker issued orders closing businesses on March 20, April 1 and April 30. In the filing, the residents do not challenge the governor’s authority to take those actions, as has been the case in lawsuits filed by two Republican lawmakers and others.
Two parties in the lawsuit are George Pearson, the Will County Republican Committee chairman, and Steve Balich, a member of the Will County Board. Both claim the state’s restrictions “deprived” them of income.
Pearson claims he cannot perform his duties to nominate candidates for the Nov. 3 general election ballot. Balich claims he cannot “effectively represent his constituents” or run for reelection.
And two business owners — Samantha Palya, proprietor of Absolutely Pawfect Pet Styling in Cook County, and Amanda Hamerman, owner of Color Envy in DuPage County — claim the closure of their shops caused lost revenue. Michael Judge, owner of Judge Automotive in Cook County, alleges the stay-at-home restriction caused fewer people to travel and thus need their cars repaired.
According to the filing, the state threatened them with fines and undefined criminal punishments if they did not comply with Pritzker’s order.
“In the wake of a fast-moving disease outbreak, (those suing) stand on the precipice of economic collapse as a direct result of the actions taken,” the lawsuit argues. “Despite issuing the COVID-19 closure orders for a readily-apparent public purpose, the governor did not provide compensation for those who suffered substantial — and perhaps total — diminution of value in their property as a result.”
Balich said in an email he hopes this lawsuit “will help open Illinois.”
The lawsuit was filed May 13 by attorneys with Mokena-based Bruggeman, Hurst & Associates. The state has not yet responded to the residents’ arguments and no hearings have been scheduled.
Rebecca Pallmeyer, chief judge of the Northern District Federal Court, is assigned to the case. She was the judge in a suit by the Libertarian and Green Parties of Illinois to loosen requirements for third-party candidates to be included on November ballots this election cycle and in one filed by a group claiming COVID-19 restrictions made it impossible to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot.