A $45,000 payment agreed to by the Village of La Grange to settle a lawsuit filed against it by pawnbroker Andrew Grayson will be partially covered by an Illinois municipal risk pool. But village officials refuse to disclose the details of that arrangement.
The Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency (IRMA), based in Westchester, also provided lawyers to represent the village in the lawsuit, filed last July by Grayson in the U.S. District Court in Chicago.
According to its website, IRMA "is a risk sharing pool of 73 local municipalities [including La Grange] and special service districts in northeastern Illinois, which have joined together to manage and fund their property/casualty/workers’ compensation claims. All members also participate in a comprehensive risk management program."
Assistant Village Manager Andrianna Peterson this week confirmed that IRMA and the village would share the costs of settling the lawsuit, in which Grayson alleged that village officials in 2009 successfully conspired with restaurant owner Michael LaPidus, then-president of the La Grange Business Association, to prevent him from opening a pawn shop at 71 S La Grange Rd, next to Village Hall, after Grayson already had been granted a business license, thereby violating his civil right to due process.
But Peterson declined a request to provide a specific accounting of the how the costs would be divided. Instead, she cited an exemption under Section 7(1)(s) of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which allows public bodies to withhold information related to "[a]ny and all proprietary information and records related to the operation of an intergovernmental risk management association or self-insurance pool or jointly self-administered health and accident cooperative or pool."
Invoking an allowed FOIA exemption is an option not a requirement, according to the statute.
Peterson did confirm that the settlement agreement pertains only to Grayson's suit against the village, and does not address any liability on behalf of LaPidus.
Neither does the settlement affect a separate, related federal lawsuit filed against both the village and LaPidus by a bank trust held on behalf of Fifth Avenue Property Management, which owns and manages the retail space at 71 La Grange Rd, for which Grayson signed a one-year lease.
A status hearing for Fifth Avenue's lawsuit is scheduled for Jan. 14.