Hilco Development Partners (“Hilco”) is facing several lawsuits as a result of the recent implosion of a smokestack in April, when a dense plume of dust covered the Little Village Neighborhood.[1]

The Illinois Attorney General (“AG”) filed a lawsuit in May alleging that the smokestack demolition emitted, “mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and other pollutants.”[2] The effects of pollutants such as mercury can have severe effects on human health, depending on age and exposure.[3] The AG seeks to enjoin Hilco to take “all necessary corrective action that will result in a final and permanent abatement of violations.”[4] Although the complaint was filed in May 2020, Hilco has been granted several extensions to build its case.[5]

Hilco faces a separate lawsuit from Little Village residents alleging Hilco cut corners demolishing the old smokestack.[6] In addition to making allegations similar to those in the Attorney General’s complaint, the class action lawsuit also alleges nuisance and property damage to all class members.[7]

The City of Chicago has also penalized Hilco. Before both lawsuits, the City of Chicago issued a $68,000 fine against Hilco and its contractors following the smokestack implosion.[8] The City proposed an ordinance in response to the demolition in early September that has advanced out of the Development Committee.[9] The full City Council will vote on the measure some time this month.[10]

[1] Kari Lydersen, After Chicago coal plant demolition debacle, residents demand changes, Energy News Network (Apr. 17, 2020), https://energynews.us/2020/04/17/midwest/after-chicago-coal-plant-demolition-debacle-residents-demand-changes/; Chicago-Kent Journal of Environmental Law and Energy, Proposed Ordinance Seeks to Reform How and Where Industrial Plants in Chicago are Sited, JEEL Blog (Sept. 27, 2020), https://studentorgs.kentlaw.iit.edu/ckjeel/2020/09/27/proposed-ordinance-seeks-to-reform-how-and-where-industrial-plants-in-chicago-are-sited/.

[2] Complaint for Injunctive Relief and Civil Penalties at 4, People v. Hilco Redev. LLC., Cook County, Illinois Chancery Division, No. 2020CH04076, https://illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/pressroom/2020_05/HILCO-Complaint_FILED_5-5-2020.pdf. [hereinafter Complaint]

[3] EPA, Health Effects of Exposures to Mercury (last visited Oct. 2, 2020), https://www.epa.gov/mercury/health-effects-exposures-mercury.

[4] Complaint, supra note 2, at 15.

[5] Case Summary for Case Number 2020CH006076, Chancery Division, http://www.cookcountyclerkofcourt.org/courtcasesearch/DocketSearch.aspx.

[6] Complaint at 1, Solis v. Hilco Redev. LLC, No. 1:20-cv-02348, (N.D. Ill. Apr. 15, 2020).

[7] Id. at 14.

[8] Mauricio Pena and Kelly Bauer, ‘They Utterly Failed’: City Slaps Hilco With $68,000 In Fines For Little Village Dust Cloud, Bans Implosions For 6 Months, Book Club Chicago (Apr. 17, 2020), https://blockclubchicago.org/2020/04/17/they-utterly-failed-city-slaps-hilco-with-68000-fines-for-little-village-dust-cloud-bans-implosions-for-6-months/.

[9] Id.

[10] Justin Laurence, Ordinance Creating Process To Revoke Tax Incentives From ‘Bad Actor’ Developers Moves Forward, Book Club Chicago (Sept. 20. 2020), https://blockclubchicago.org/2020/09/30/ordinance-creating-process-to-revoke-property-tax-incentives-from-bad-actors-moves-forward/.