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Midland Corp. v. Illinois Pollution Control Bd.

ELR Citation: 14 ELR 20338
Nos. No. 4-83-0297, 456 N.E.2d 914/119 Ill. App. 3d 428, (Ill. App. Ct., 11/16/1983)

The court overturns a civil penalty assessed on the basis of petitioner's alleged economic benefit from delayed compliance with a state water pollution control law, ruling that it was based on improper and incompetent evidence. Initially, the court affirms the Pollution Control Board's finding that petitioner violated the water pollution control provisions of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act and failed to carry its burden of demonstrating that compliance would impose an arbitrary or unreasonable hardship. However, the court rules that the $40,000 fine imposed in the case is not supported by the evidence. The penalty, calculated with a formula designed to identify the economic benefit of delayed compliance, was based on spurious assumptions and figures pulled out of the air. The expert witness who calculated the penalty was unable to explain how the formula operates. The court acknowledges that such a fine might be justified under other provisions of the Act and that the fine might be trivial compared to petitioner's net worth; however, it rejects these as justifications for the penalty. The court remands the case to the Pollution Control Board for reconsideration of whether any penalty is justified, and if so, for recalculation of the penalty in light of this decision.

Counsel for Petitioner
Wayne L. Bickes
Rosenberg, Rosenberg, Bickes, Johnson & Richardson
P.O. Box 1709, Decatur IL 62525
(217) 423-3614

Counsel for Respondents
Vincent W. Moreth, Ass't Attorney General
500 S. 2nd St., Springfield IL 62701
(217) 782-1090