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On November 6, 2020, an Illinois appellate court reversed a Kane County trial court’s grant of a temporary restraining order blocking the enforcement of Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order 2020-61 as it applied to a restaurant in Geneva, Illinois. The appellate court found that the trial court abused its discretion, as the plaintiff, FoxFire Tavern, LLC, did not establish a likelihood of success on the merits of its suit. Here, the appellate court held that the Governor has authority under the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act (“IEMA”) to issue successive proclamations due to a singular, ongoing disaster. Moreover, on November 13, 2020, the court granted Governor Pritzker’s motion to publish the court’s opinion, which allows this case to be cited as precedent in similar COVID-19 lawsuits.

On November 16, 2020, a Sangamon County judge held that, per state law and the state constitution, Governor Pritzker and his administration have the power to issue executive orders mandating public health measures at schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This decision applied to two lawsuits, Mainer v. Illinois Department of Public Health and Pritzker v. Board of Education of Hutsonville. In deciding for the Governor and the IDPH on an oral ruling from the bench, the judge concluded “that the [G]overnor has the authority to issue executive orders, successive executive orders, along with guidance to the agency to help promulgate those executive orders.” Interestingly, in its decision, the court cited the previously noted FoxFire Tavern decision. Additional detail may be forthcoming when the judge’s ruling is reduced to a written decision, which we expect will be issued within the next month.

Finally, on November 4, 2020, a Sangamon County judge dismissed six lawsuits pending against Governor Pritzker regarding his authority to enact executive orders during the coronavirus pandemic In dismissing these lawsuits, the court found that plaintiffs’ suits were factually deficient, as the plaintiffs relied on conclusions instead of factual allegations.. The court concluded that while a cause of action may exist, it has not yet been properly pled.

The lawsuits  had asked the court to declare that the COVID-19 pandemic was not a public health emergency that existed in the plaintiffs’ counties within the meaning of the IEMA and to stop the Governor from exercising his emergency powers under Section 7 of the IEMA. The court allowed the plaintiffs an opportunity to file an amended complaint by November 25, but it appears they have not filed any amended pleadings.

Contact Pam Simaga with questions regarding these lawsuits and their impact on Illinois school districts.