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Arnstein & Lehr files amicus curiae brief accepted by Illinois Supreme Court

Arnstein & Lehr

Allan Goldberg

Arnstein & Lehr

Hal Morris

Arnstein & Lehr

Laura Lau Marinelli

Arnstein & Lehr

Katelyn Letizia

Arnstein & Lehr Partner Allan Goldberg led a team of lawyers from the firm in the drafting of an amicus curiae brief filed on March 6 with the Illinois Supreme Court on behalf of the Community Associations Institute – Illinois Chapter (CAI-IL), which the firm represented pro bono. The Illinois Supreme Court granted a petition for leave to appeal in the case in February and accepted the team’s amicus curiae brief as a “friend of the court.”  Additional team members included Partner Hal Morris, Partner Laura Lau Marinelli and Associate Katelyn Letizia.

The brief was filed with the intent of assisting the Illinois Supreme Court in its consideration of Spanish Court Two Condominium Association v. Lisa Carlson by placing the appellate court’s definition of “germane” under the Forcible Entry and Detainer Act, in a more complete context. It also included a discussion of the ramifications of the ruling on Illinois community associations.

The court dispute started when Spanish Court Two filed a complaint for possession of condominium unit and assessments in Illinois’ 19th Judicial Circuit Court against unit owner, Lisa Carlson and all unknown occupants, seeking the possession of Carlson’s condominium unit pursuant to the Association’s Declaration of Condominium Ownership and of Easements, Restrictions and Covenants, as well as monetary damages for breach of contract.

Carlson, the unit owner, asserted affirmative defenses, and also alleged in a counter-claim, that a condominium owner has the right to defend these collection actions by raising a “failure to maintain” defense.

The trial court granted the Association’s motion to sever the counterclaim and to strike the affirmative defenses as not “germane” with regard to the issue of possession. On appeal, Carlson contended that the trial court erred by striking her affirmative defenses and severing her identical counterclaim. In reversing the trial court’s treatment of Carlson’s affirmative defenses and counterclaim, the appellate court made new law: In answer to a community association’s forcible entry and detainer complaint for possession based on unit owners’ unpaid assessments, defendant unit owners could now assert an affirmative defense based upon their associations’ purported neglect of maintenance and repair obligations. A petition for re-hearing was filed by the Association; the appellate court denied the Association’s petition and the case headed to the Illinois Supreme Court.

The Illinois Chapter of Community Associations Institute 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.