NAPERVILLE, Ill. — The City of Naperville has won an Illinois Supreme Court Case against Patrick Engineering. This case, argued by Senior Assistant City Attorney Patricia Lord, has far-reaching and positive effects for municipalities and other public bodies across the state.
In 2007, Patrick Engineering, Inc., was awarded a $436,392 bid by the City of Naperville to perform GIS services related to Naperville’s storm water management system. Although the company performed only about one quarter of the work covered by the contract, Patrick Engineering claimed it was owed $341,000 for additional services it said it performed outside of the scope of the contract. This claim was based on alleged communications by City employees instead of the work that was authorized in the contract by the City. When the City refused to pay Patrick Engineering the money it was demanding, Patrick Engineering stopped work and sued the City.
Patrick Engineering failed to follow the required procedure agreed upon in its contract with the City in order to obtain authority to perform services outside the contract. Nonetheless, Patrick Engineering argued that the City should be stopped from denying that it owed the additional money to the company.
Judge John Elsner, now Chief Judge of the 18th Judicial Circuit Court, ruled in the City’s favor and dismissed the case. His decision, which was overturned on appeal to the Second District Appellate Court, was affirmed on Thursday, September 20 by the Illinois Supreme Court. Through this ruling, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed that public bodies may only be bound by actions they have taken or expressly authorized, which is an important protection for these bodies and the taxpayers that fund them.
“We are lucky to have a diligent, skilled and persuasive attorney like Pat Lord on our side,” City Attorney Margo Ely said. “The Illinois Supreme Court noted that in this case, Patrick Engineering left a ‘vague implication that they sanctioned an unlimited measure of additional services and, in effect, an open draw on the City’s treasury.’ Pat has a distinguished public service career and this victory benefits all municipalities in the State of Illinois.”