Oak Park off the hook for NRA lawsuit fees, City of Chicago picks up the tab

Oak Park, Chicago agreed to joint responsibility, but city is accountable for all legal costs

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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

The legal fees associated with the lawsuit involving the National Rifle Association, the City of Chicago and the Village of Oak Park are expected to total roughly $1.3 million, pending a judge's approval, but Oak Park won't have to empty its pockets.

The case stems from a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Oak Park and the city of Chicago's handgun bans, and the NRA sought payment of its attorneys' fees. That amount initially totaled $1.7 million, but the counsel representing the NRA was required to recalculate the fees after a judge ruled the amount was excessive.

A July 25 court document outlines that the Village of Oak Park and the city of Chicago jointly recognize being responsible for half the costs incurred, amounting to roughly $624,000.

While the court documents appear as though Oak Park would be forking out their half, according to a 2009 agreement between the two municipalities, Chicago agreed to pay for the NRA-associated fees, as long as the fees "could be attributed to Chicago's and Oak Park's joint defense of their respective ordinances," according to an written arrangement with Michael Forti, Chicago's deputy corporation counsel during the time.

The agreement states that Oak Park would be responsible for its own legal fees associated with the case, but the village was represented by the Chicago-based firm of Mayer Brown at no cost.

The July 24 court document, signed by the firms representing Chicago and Oak Park, states that they are not waiving their right to appeal the previous ruling, but it does agree they are collectively responsible for the final ruling.

Village President David Pope explained that Chicago understood that the handgun ban was a large-scale issue for a town like Oak Park to undertake, so it agreed that if Oak Park stood by its stance, they'd be responsible for any financial obligations that might result from potential lawsuits. Oak Park and Chicago officials believed at the time they could both benefit if the issue were tackled together.

Overall, Pope said the court documents filed last week simply reference the appointment of fees, not who is going to be paying them. Although apportionmentsuggests Oak Park would be responsible, the previous agreement affirms Chicago's commitment to paying the bill, despite what the court document outlines. Therefore, despite agreeing to joint responsibility, Oak Park won't be liable for any of the $1.3 million.

The 2009 Oak Park ordinance references Oak Park's 1985 handgun ban ordinance, which 15,000 residents voted in favor of. The village enforced the ban until it was overturned in 2010.

Email: anna@oakpark.com Twitter: @AnnaLothson

Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

ban knives also  

Posted: August 2nd, 2012 5:24 PM

This just in-A 17 year old chinese man from northern china killed 8 people with a knife and wounded 5 more. I think they should ban guns and knives. Knives are more deadly than guns in some cases. Owners of knives should register the knife or face hefty fines. Especially the owners of military style assault knives.

Wow from Oak Park   

Posted: August 2nd, 2012 4:35 PM

Mr. Borderman...wow! Your comment is ludicrous even by WJ standards. The NRA is made up of citizens....citizens who, by the way, ARE the government! And lumping the Martin case with Aurora is the height of idiocy.


Posted: August 2nd, 2012 3:47 PM

So to own a handgun in Oak Park now, do you have to jump through a bunch of hoops and pay a ton of fees? Or can you just go to the gun shop and buy one, like 99% of the rest of the country?

Mr. Borderman from Oak Park  

Posted: August 1st, 2012 4:37 PM

What a great year the NRA is having! What with the much celebrated killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida, and the recent massacre in Aurora they're really showing America what unlimited access to weapons is all about. Odd, though, that a terrorist organization like the NRA which sees no impediment to citizens owning rocket launchers, isn't being investigated by the government. I guess it's because they bought the government. Yeah, that must be it.

T.J. from Oak Park  

Posted: August 1st, 2012 8:25 AM

It is very sloppy to have an agreement and not be able to produce it quickly. Oak Park lawyers should have emailed the document to Chicago's lawyers and the whole issue would have been resolved in 5 minutes. Sorry, I falult Oak Park's legal department.

TJ and Q  

Posted: July 31st, 2012 10:26 PM

hav u guys really 4gotten that the agreement was reported in this same paper last year? the issue as reported here was that Chicago denied such agreement existed and the village hadnt plannd to pay if the case was lost.


Posted: July 31st, 2012 9:43 PM

Thanks, Chicago!


Posted: July 31st, 2012 8:09 PM

Go get 'em Keyboard Kommandos! This flaming comment board on a newspaper article sure will show them.


Posted: July 31st, 2012 6:28 PM

Now all you clowns.......SIT DOWN!

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 31st, 2012 5:44 PM

Rahmbo, the agreement was already spelled out with what Oak Park's part was. No one bothered to read it because these folks don't care about Oak Park. Vote Pope and Raymond out.

Rahmbo from Chicago  

Posted: July 31st, 2012 4:58 PM

Yes, there will be no legal fees. But if you think OP won't have to pay in some other manner, I've got a 2016 Summer Olympics bid to sell you. Quid pro quo, David??

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 31st, 2012 4:45 PM

T.J. from Oak Park, this is another example of Pope not knowing, the village manager not knowing and the legal department not knowing or even care to read any of the agreements.

T.J. from Oak Park  

Posted: July 31st, 2012 3:53 PM

Why did it take so long to realize that Oak Park had an agreement with Chicago? This seems so simple in hindsight. I'll bet Oak Park spent a small fortune arguing over the NRA's legal bills, getting them reduced when they weren't even on the hook. Oak Park wasted money on legal fees, just not the NRA's lawyers fees. I'm sure many hours were billed for subsequent the the NRA winning the case. Get it toghether people!


Posted: July 31st, 2012 3:45 PM

Sometimes, it's better to be lucky than good.

Op guy  

Posted: July 31st, 2012 2:54 PM

Dodged that bullet!

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