The Illinois Court of Appeals on Oct. 31 unanimously upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit filed in 2011 by Riverside resident Tony Peraica and Taxpayers United of America against Riverside-Brookfield High School.
Unless Peraica and Taxpayers United seek a re-hearing by the appellate court or petition the Illinois Supreme Court to hear the case, the lawsuit has been put to rest.
“The district is pleased by the appellate court’s decision, and we hope the decisiveness of the decision discourages Mr. Peraica and Taxpayers United from further appeals,” said RBHS District 208 school board President Matthew Sinde in a press release. “This litigation diverts the district from its educational mission and is a waste of the district’s time and the taxpayers’ money.”
In writing the opinion for the three-judge appellate court panel hearing the case, Judge James R. Epstein not only affirmed the dismissal of the suit but also re-affirmed the Cook County court’s ruling that RBHS should not be awarded attorneys’ fees from the plaintiffs.
Peraica and Taxpayers United filed the lawsuit in 2011, alleging that D208 had violated their constitutional rights by, among other things, illegally using resources funded by taxpayers to advocate for a property tax increase referendum.
But Epstein wrote that Peraica and Taxpayers United failed to make the case.
“In order to state a cause of action … plaintiffs must allege, with specificity, a violation of their rights under federal law,” Epstein wrote. “Although plaintiffs contend that defendant violated … the Election Code, it is the Board of Elections that is empowered to adjudicate such complaints.”
Epstein concluded that Peraica and Taxpayers United “fail[ed] to allege any recognizable violation of [their] constitutional rights.”
The referendum that sparked the lawsuit was defeated by voters by an almost 4-to-1 margin.