ADT SECURITY SERVICES, INC. v. LISLE-WOODRIDGE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT (February 27, 2012)
In 2009, the Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District passed an ordinance that required commercial buildings and multi-family residences to have fire alarms that connected wirelessly with a central monitoring board. The ordinance also dictated that a single vendor would provide and service the equipment. Several alarm companies that had competed for this business in the past brought suit against the District. The complaint included constitutional claims as well as federal and state statutory claims. Relying exclusively on state law, Judge Shadur (N.D. Ill) permanently enjoined the implementation of the ordinance. The District appeals.
In their opinion, Seventh Circuit Judges Wood, Tinder, and Hamilton affirmed in part and reversed in part. The District is a creature of state law, specifically the Illinois Fire Protection District Act. The District’s powers are only those expressly granted by the statute. On this appeal from a permanent injunction, the Court considered the crucial factor to be success on the merits. The merits included whether the District had the authority to require all alarms systems to connect to a central facility, require wireless connections, and require all participants to use a single vendor chosen by the District. The Court concluded that the questions were ones of first impression that the Illinois Supreme Court had not yet spoken on – and on which it was obligated to predict how that court would rule. It quickly rejected the district’s arguments that either the statute’s general purpose section or administrative section conferred the required power. Under the statute’s substantive section, the District is given the “power to adopt and enforce fire prevention codes and standards parallel to national standards.” The Court addressed each of the ordinance’s three aspects under that test. It concluded that the direct connect requirement met the “parallel” test even though it was somewhat more demanding than the national standard and that the wireless requirement met the test as well. With respect to the exclusive provider requirement, however, the Court concluded that it was not consistent with national standards. The national standards allow a district to control the receiving end of the system, but not the transmitting end.