Supreme Court Summaries

Opinions filed December 15, 2011

 

 

Township of Jubilee v. State of Illinois, 2011 IL 111447

Appellate citation: 405 Ill. App. 3d 489.

 

JUSTICE KARMEIER delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Garman, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.

 

The State of Illinois maintains a state park on land which was once the home of a school founded in the nineteenth century as Jubilee College.

The State has record title to most of the acreage now comprising the park, based on sales and conveyances made after the college was dissolved. The two parcels at issue here, however, cannot be so traced. Although the State has placed a sign there and has been mowing the grass, no legal instruments have been recorded against these parcels since the land was originally surveyed and platted in 1860 by the trustees of Jubilee College, to whom all of the much larger tract had originally been donated. When the plat was certified, these now-contested parcels complied with the legal requirements then in effect for a statutory dedication. The dedication was impliedly accepted by the Township of Jubilee, and fee simple vested in the public.

In 2003, the township filed a declaratory judgment action in the circuit court of Peoria County seeking to quiet title. Named as defendants were the State of Illinois and other parties. The State moved to dismiss, claiming that it was immune from suit in circuit court, that it could only be sued in the Court of Claims, and that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction. This motion was denied.

Subsequently, the State filed a counter-complaint which was structured as a separate action to quiet title, and much later, in 2009, it moved for summary judgment. The township responded with its own motion for summary judgment and was successful. The appellate court affirmed the circuit court=s grant of summary judgment to the township quieting title, finding no lack of jurisdiction. It also upheld the circuit court on the merits, declining to reach, as speculative and premature, the State=s critique that the township wanted to sell land which must be preserved for public purposes because there had been a statutory dedication. The State appealed to the supreme court on the jurisdictional issue.

In this decision, the supreme court said that, initially, the State could not have been sued in circuit court. However, what happened here is that the State went beyond merely defending itself when it subsequently invoked the jurisdiction of the circuit court to assert its own claim that it was entitled to have title quieted in its favor.

The results below were affirmed.