By Anna Lothson
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.