Plaintiffs sued as citizens and taxpayers of both the state of Illinois and the United States. They also sued by way of representation pursuant to 28 U.S.C.A. rule 23, on behalf of others similarly situated, including the people of the city of Chicago.
They briefly state the subject matter of their lawsuit to be the air rights of the land occupied, used or controlled by the Illinois Central Railroad company (herein referred to as defendant), for railroad purposes. The record before us indicates that the area involved lies east of Michigan avenue and fronts upon Lake Michigan, between Monroe street and the Chicago river.
It is plaintiffs' contention that defendant has no right to such land, including reclaimed submerged land, except to occupy, use and control the same for its railroad purposes, and that the railroad has no dominion over the air rights in and to such land except for railroad purposes. Plaintiffs further contend that defendant wrongfully usurped dominion over the air rights to such land when it sold the same to the 'Prudential Building. '
Stated briefly, plaintiffs list the sources, documents and events, upon which they base their complaint, as follows:
1. The United States of America, by way of grant of public lands of the United States to the State of Illinois by the Act of Congress of 1850 (9 Stat. 466, 1850);
2. The United States of America by way of conveyance or permissive use apart from the Act of 1850;
3. The State of Illinois by virtue of the charter incorporating the defendant (Illinois Private Laws, 1851);
4. The City of Chicago by virtue of various ordinances of the common council, principal among which was that ordinance adopted June 14, 1852;
5. Conveyances by way of deed from private persons, firms or corporations;
6. Acquisition by condemnation, the right of eminent domain having been granted to defendant by the State of Illinois in said charter;
7. Filling in and taking of submerged lands of the State of Ilinois along the shore line of Lake Michigan.
It is plaintiffs' theory that the air rights, which they state defendant has sold to the 'Prudential Building', 'have been and are being wrongfully and illegally taken and usurped by the defendant railroad for other than railroad purposes, and, sold or otherwise disposed of to the wrongful, illegal and permanent loss, injury and damage of the right, interest and entitlement thereto of the People of the State of Illinois, the People of the United States and others similarly situated, including the People of the City of Chicago'.
They seek by their suit, inter alia, to have a judicial declaration that the land and air rights have reverted to the people of the state of Illinois, or the people of the United States, or others similarly situated, including the people of the city of Chicago, and that all monies received by defendant on account of its sale of the land or air rights which are devoted to other than railroad purposes be deposited with the court pending determination of who is entitled thereto.
It is agreed that the following are the questions which we must decide:
1. Whether plaintiffs have no authority to maintain this suit on behalf of the federal, state or municipal governments.
2. Whether plaintiffs have no authority to maintain this suit as a representative suit.
1. As to the alleged authority of plaintiffs to sue on behalf of the federal government, we note that, in Com. of Massachusetts v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447, 487, 43 S.Ct. 597, 601, 67 L.Ed.
Jurisdiction: U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
Related Categories: Constitutional Law , Government / Politics , Property , Taxation