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Fox Secures $5.3 Million Victory in Illinois Land Development Case

December 1, 2020 – Press Releases

In a five-year court battle over a breached development agreement, a Fox Rothschild construction litigation team successfully secured a $5.3 million award in favor of PML Development LLC, a land developer that purchased a 62-acre property located in the Village of Hawthorn Woods in Lake County, Illinois. 

The Circuit Court of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit entered judgment against the Village, finding the Village had overreached and breached the development agreement that governed the parties’ relationship.

Before PML purchased the property, it hired a certified wetland specialist, surveyor and civil engineer to evaluate the land and develop grading plans. PML provided the plans to the Village for preliminary approval and, once approved, purchased the property and entered into a development agreement. PML was then authorized to charge its customers for importing up to 1.2 million cubic yards of clean fill to grade the property.

Following the signing, the Village continuously changed its conceptual site plan for developing the land to create a municipal campus, and refused to issue the permit called for under the development agreement until PML agreed to revise its grading plans to accommodate the Village’s ever-changing designs.  Meanwhile, the Village expected PML to take into consideration where buildings “might” eventually be located as PML graded the land and to incur the costs to redo the grading work to conform to each of the Village’s design changes.

In a lawsuit filed in 2015, in the Circuit Court, the Fox team asserted that the Village failed to issue grading permits in a timely fashion, only issued earth change approvals for specific areas of land and unjustifiably used serial Stop Work Orders to delay and alter the agreed-upon development of the property.

The court agreed, and determined that the Village had delayed the project in order to incorporate details that would enable construction of a municipal campus on the property, which it failed to negotiate in the initial agreement. As a result, Fox’s client was awarded damages on its breach of contract claim in the amount of $5.3 million plus attorney’s fees and costs.

PML was represented by Chicago-based attorneys Joseph L. Cohen, Jeffrey L. Widman and Laura Caplin. The team was assisted by E-Discovery Client Services Project Manager Charmala Donohue.