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Goldberg Kohn and Northwestern Environmental Advocacy Center Win Appeal in Lawsuit to Protect Illinois Farmland from Sand Mining

March 15, 2017

On March 9, 2017, the Illinois Appellate Court for the Third District reinstated claims brought by thirteen homeowners and farmers who own property adjacent to a proposed silica sand mine in LaSalle County, Illinois. William Meyers, a Principal, and Kerry Nelson, Counsel, in Goldberg Kohn's Litigation Group, along with Nancy Loeb and Debbie Chizewer of the Environmental Advocacy Center, Bluhm Legal Clinic, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, represented the plaintiffs in the appeal.

Central Illinois, where the plaintiffs live and farm, is rich in both farmland and silica sand, which is in high demand as a proppant used to extract oil in the fracking process. The proposed operation of the silica sand mine by developer and defendant Aramoni, LLC, which was approved by the local government, defendant Village of North Utica, will destroy farms that have been in the plaintiffs' families for generations and poses serious health and environmental risks to the community. The Environmental Advocacy Center filed a lawsuit in state court challenging the approval of the sand mine. In July of 2015, the Circuit Court of LaSalle County dismissed the plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint – which alleged claims for prospective nuisance, violation of plaintiffs' substantive due process rights, and equal protection – with prejudice.

Goldberg Kohn joined the Environmental Advocacy Center as pro bono co-counsel to appeal the dismissal of plaintiffs' claims, and collaborated extensively on the appellate briefing. On June 8, 2016 Goldberg Kohn attorney Kerry Nelson argued the appeal before the Illinois Appellate Court, Third District, in Ottawa. In its 21-page opinion reinstating the plaintiffs' case, the appellate court found that the plaintiffs had sufficiently stated two of their claims, violation of substantive due process and prospective nuisance. The court's opinion highlighted that, due to the operation of the mine, "as detailed in the second amended complaint, plaintiffs will suffer harm to their health, water supply, and agricultural land, and they will experience a decrease in the values of their properties."

Goldberg Kohn is proud to partner with the Environmental Advocacy Center on this important work.

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