Prentice suit amended, but not as judge intended?



  • Save Prentice Coalition

Last month, Cook County Circuit Court judge Neil Cohen gave the National Trust for Historic Preservation 30 days to fix up its lawsuit against the City of Chicago and the Commission on Chicago Landmarks over their haste in giving preliminary landmark designation to the former Prentice Hospital and then taking it away, all in a single afternoon.

Which left Northwestern University, owner (but no lover) of the distinctive Bertrand Goldberg structure, free to blow it to smithereens.

The judge mused aloud that the preservationists could have charged violations of constitutionally guaranteed due process, but hadn't. And since they hadn't, he said, there was nothing he could do.

As in, "case dismissed."

Unless they changed things.

So they did.

But not exactly as he seemed to suggest.

On Monday, as the deadline descended, the National Trust—once again joined by Landmarks Illinois (which Cohen had thrown off the suit)—filed an amended complaint. It restates their original charges with the same legal arguments, but now includes a do-over vote (that produced the same result) conducted by the landmarks ommission last Thursday.

According to a brief statement from the Save Prentice Coalition, "The amended complaint updates and preserves our argument in connection with the events that have occurred since the November 1 meeting of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks and seeks a stay of the Commission's decision to rescind and reject its preliminary landmark recommendation for Prentice."

Preservationists say the do-over was also a case of improper procedure (there should have been a hearing, but it was only a meeting), and there was no opportunity to fully probe the issues, cross-examine, or even speak for more than three minutes.

They'll all be back in Cohen's courtroom Friday.

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