MOUNT VERNON -- The Fifth District Appellate Court has ruled that Madison County Associate Judge Clarence Harrison erred in stopping the closure of a bridge leading to a golf course and allowing a recreation district to carry out repairs.
Appellate Justice Judy Cates entered the decision with Justices Melissa Chapman and Thomas Welch concurring. They concluded that the Collinsville Area Recreation District (CARD) failed to properly argue its case.
The appeal centered on a dispute between the owner of the bridge, which lies on private land and leads into Arlington Greens Golf Course in Granite City, and CARD. A roadway into the golf course is the only way to enter and includes a large culvert, which is owned by defendant Williams C. White.
In 1965 the former owners of the land granted permanent easement to CARD. But in 2015, White wrote to the recreation district stating he was the owner of the land and sent a second letter revealing he intended to close the bridge as of the end of March 2016.
CARD asked the Madison County Circuit Court for a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction and a permanent injunction against White. The temporary order was issued by Harrison, who later issued a preliminary injunction.
While that order was in place, the bridge was not maintained or fixed, and CARD believed it was in danger of collapse. Prior to any ruling on the permanent injunction, CARD wanted to amend to order the defendant to repair the bridge.
Ahead of any further rulings on the injunctions, CARD was allowed by the court to perform the repair, which it did so in late 2018. Then the court denied the injunction.
The defendant appealed.
The appellate court had to decide whether the trial court was mistaken in issuing the original preliminary injunction, which barred the closure of the bridge. The appellate court first decided that the issue was not moot, even though the bridge is repaired.
"Even though the bridge has been repaired, there are still questions remaining as to whether the court properly granted a preliminary injunction in the first place," Cates wrote in the ruling.
"The key here is that a party seeking an injunction must file a verified complaint pleading facts that justify a right to injunctive relief," Cates wrote. "CARD did not file a verified complaint."
The appellate court found that the circuit court "abused its discretion in entering any order other than a dismissal of CARD’s original unverified pleading."
"Accordingly, we must also find that the court erred in granting the order regarding the repair of the easement," Cates wrote.