Authored by Amanda Riggs and Julie Tappendorf, originally posted on her blog, Municipal Minute, for Ancel Glink covering a variety of local government issues.
For an individual to bring a lawsuit before the court they must have what is known as standing - in other words, the person must show that he or she has been or is about to be injured by the defendant. In a recent case, the an Illinois appellate court found that the plaintiffs had no standing to bring a lawsuit against the Village of Bellwood for failure to hire the plaintiffs as police officers. Burdi v. Village of Bellwood, 2016 IL App (1st) 152548-U.
Both Burdi and Carr applied for jobs on Bellwood’s police force through the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, who had sole hiring authority. The strict process required that each applicant be ranked and tested in order to be considered for hire. Burdi was ranked number 1 and Carr number 11. However, due to “unfavorable” results from the testing, Burdi was told he would not be hired. Soon after, the Village enacted an ordinance that allowed the mayor to laterally hire any trained and certified police officers from another jurisdiction. After the ordinance was adopted, Carr was told by a member of the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners that he was to be hired but he never received the confirmation call from the police chief. The ordinance has since been repealed.
Burdi and Carr filed suit against the Village claiming that the enactment of the lateral hiring ordinance was invalid and prevented them from being hired by the police department. The trial court ruled in favor of the Village and both Burdi and Carr appealed.
On appeal, the appellate court found that both Burdi and Carr lacked standing because neither of them sustained or were about to sustain injury due to the enactment of the lateral hiring ordinance. Burdi lacked standing because the decision not to hire him stemmed from his failure to pass the required tests, not from the enactment of the ordinance. Carr, on the other hand, lacked standing because he was number 11 in the ranking, suggesting he would not have been hired even if the ordinance had never been enacted. In the end, neither plaintiff was injured by the enactment of the ordinance because the Village's decision not to hire them resulted from factors unrelated to the ordinance and, therefore, they lacked standing.