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City tears down building without owner’s knowledge

An owner of a building in Chicago received a big shock when his building was torn down without his knowledge.  He alleges in a civil lawsuit against the city that he was never served with papers for the demolition. A person with the same name received the papers instead.  When the owner did not show up for the hearing, a default judgment was entered against him and the court ordered the building demolished.  This is not that unusual a problem, especially when a structure is not owner occupied.  I have seen warrants issued for the arrest of a person who had nothing to do with the violation but had the bad luck to have the same name as the offender.  This is why obtaining proper identifying information about an offender is important.  That would include a name, date of birth, height, weight, eye color, and in a perfect world, a driver’s license number.  I think that some inspectors are a bit cavalier about this type of information but it can save the inspector and the local jurisdiction from a nasty lawsuit, like the one in this case. Often the best time to obtain identifying information is when a person applies for a permit.  If things take a turn for the worse, the inspector already has the information.

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