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Court Supports Permanent Injunction in Lisle-Woodridge Case

Posted By Bob Ogle, Friday, August 09, 2013

Alarm providers in Illinois got a major boost recently when the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of five companies in their fight against the privatization and monopolization of fire-alarm monitoring by fire districts and other municipal entities.

The appellate court upheld a permanent injunction against the Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District, saying the district exceeded its legal authority by taking over all fire-alarm monitoring for businesses in its jurisdiction, and directing alarms to a single private vendor contracted by the district.

The court cited an earlier evidentiary hearing in U.S. District Court that presented evidence of alarm monitoring that is "less reliable and more dangerous than the private alarm companies’ systems.” Witnesses also testified that Lisle-Woodridge monitoring did not meet code standards, leaving private central stations as the only safe means of transmitting alarm signals.

The ruling is the latest chapter in a legal battle that dates back to 2009, when Lisle-Woodridge originally passed the ordinance. The injunction was originally granted by U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur in 2011, after a lawsuit by ESA members ADT, Alarm Detection Systems, DMC Security Services, Illinois Alarm Service, and SMG Security Systems. However, the ruling was partially reversed by the 7th Circuit last year in lieu of the evidentiary hearing, which eventually upheld the injunction after four days of testimony.

Bruce Goldsmith, an attorney for the four companies who joined ADT in the lawsuit, told Tess Nacelewicz of Security Systems News that the court "highlighted the facts they thought were particularly compelling, and one of them comes really from the front page of the opinion, where they saw this as really being designed to gain revenue [on the part of the fire district] and it really wasn’t for any public safety reasons.”

A number of questions still may need to be resolved in the courts, such as whether the district’s actions acted illegally by contacting alarm company customers, and whether other municipalities – such as fire departments in home rule or non-home rule municipalities – are subject to the same restraints.

"Our claims that the district interfered with customer contracts and created an illegal monopoly are equally applicable to municipal fire departments," said Nick Bonifas, attorney for Alarm Detection Systems. "These federal issues will be pursued during the next phase in the case with the district. Since the Court also found the monitoring functions by the district to be substandard by NFPA standards, we believe the same conclusion can be reached with regard to municipal fire departments.”


Tags:  Illinois  state legislation 

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