Madison - St. Clair Record

Monday, August 19, 2019

Plaintiffs granted leave to re-join Madison County in bid rigging suit; January trial vacated

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Sep 20, 2017

Fayette County Associate Judge J. Marc Kelly granted a class of property owners’ request to amend their complaint to add Madison County as a defendant in a suit alleging several tax buyers participated in a bid rigging scheme with former Treasurer Fred Bathon.

Kelly vacated the Jan. 8 trial date.

The plaintiffs sought to re-join Madison County to the action following Bathon’s May 11 deposition.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs claim Bathon arranged for tax buyers to charge interest at the maximum legal limit of 18 percent at auctions of delinquent property taxes from 2005 to 2008.

The amended complaint has not yet been entered on the record, but defendants Scott Sieron, Raven Securities, Inc., Illinois Mobile Homes LLC, Illinois Realty Group Holdings, LLC, and Illinois Realty Group, LLC, answered the second amended complaint on Aug. 24 through attorney Alvin C. Paulson of Belleville.

Paulson argues that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

He also alleges the claims are barred by the statute of limitations “as Plaintiffs would have had knowledge of the alleged conspiracy and antitrust actions prior to the statutory period.”

In the event the plaintiffs are awarded damages, Paulson argues that any judgment should be reduced “by the degree of Plaintiff’s respective comparative fault, as determined by the Court and/or jury, in that Plaintiffs’ claims are the result of Plaintiffs’ own negligence in failing to pay their own property taxes prior to the allegedly ‘tainted’ tax sale.”

Paulson wrote that the plaintiffs’ claims are "preempted and precluded by the Illinois Statutes governing delinquent real estate tax bills.”

He added that the claims are barred for the non-payment of taxes or redemptions, payment of which would have precluded the alleged cause of action.

“Claims under Illinois Antitrust Act is barred for plaintiffs’ lack of standing as the plaintiff class did not participate in the allegedly anticompetitive environment as a potential tax buyer and the injures alleged as a result of the allegedly ‘rigged’ auctions would be derivative injuries and would not constitute a basis for standing to make a claim under the Illinois Antitrust Act,” the answer states.

Paulson also argues that Sieron was acting in his capacity as an officer and agent of the other defendant companies and is not a proper party in the suit.

Foley filed a motion to compel on Sept. 11 through attorney Ann Barron of Heyl Royster Voelker & Allen PC in Edwardsville. He seeks an order compelling the plaintiffs to answer discovery requests.

Barron wrote that the defendant served interrogatories and a request for production on the plaintiffs on May 8 but has not received responses.

Foley’s counsel has followed up with the plaintiffs’ counsel regarding the discovery “on several occasions.”

Foley raised the discovery issue at the Aug. 25 hearing, and still hasn’t received the responses.

“At this point, the discovery was served over 100 days ago and Plaintiffs have certainly had ample opportunity to prepare responses,” the motion states.

Barron wrote that it is essential that the defendant receive the responses in order to have adequate time for additional discovery if needed.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 13-L-276

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