Campton Hills drops Larsen Light Show lawsuit, fires two village officials
Campton Hills officials approved a settlement this week that ended a lengthy legal battle with Brian Larsen -- of the Larsen's Christmas Lights Show fame -- where they agreed to drop the village's lawsuit over zoning violations and pay him $5,000.
The vote on Tuesday in favor of settlement was 4-2, with one trustee voting present and Village President Barbara Wojnicki voting yes.
But trustees unanimously agreed to end the at-will employment of executive assistant Dorothea Stipetic and Village Administrator Denise Burchard, "effective immediately."
All the board actions were taken without comment.
Stipetic and Burchard did not answer voicemail messages seeking comment.
The lawsuit was filed in February 2022 after the village cited Larsen for zoning violations.
"I've been dealing with this for 10 years," Larsen said. "This is dirty politics. They didn't want the light show because it didn't get known as Larsen's Light Show Campton Hills, so they started making things up in the lawsuit."
Larsen has since moved the light show to Goebbert's Farm in Pingree Grove, where it is known as Goebbert's Light Show.
In addition to ending the village's civil action, the settlement requires Larsen to remove gravel fill from the westernmost driveway on his property and remediate the former parking lot area.
Larsen will donate the $5,000 from the village to the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation, its children's charity, in the next season.
The settlement states that all the village's actions against Larsen are dismissed and that Larsen won't pursue litigation against any current and former village officials or their agents.
That is, all except one: former Village President Michael Tyrell, who lost his seat to Wojnicki in November.
The settlement leaves Tyrrell open to being sued because he was not indemnified as the rest of the officials, former officials and employees were.
Tyrrell said he had not seen the settlement and could not comment.
The settlement requires statements from the village and Larsen about the lawsuit to appear in a newsletter and be recited aloud at a meeting.
In its statement, the village acknowledged that it could "do better and will do better."
Larsen's statement acknowledged the village has the right to enforce its codes and rules, "but that always has to be tempered with good judgment. ... I am happy to put this all behind me."
James Newman, Larsen's attorney, said the village's lawsuit never should have been filed.
Newman said when the village filed its complaint, he filed a motion to dismiss.
Instead of answering his motion, the village filed an amended complaint -- to which Newman said he presented evidence that the allegations "were mostly false and they were not able to demonstrate any truth."
One example was citing Larsen for not having a permit to put in a pool when the village told him three times in person and writing that he didn't need a permit, Newman said.
"Despite that, they filed suit anyway," Newman said. "They were fining him like $800 a day for pool fines.
"That's why it came to be settled. The new village president and the new village board determined there was not any merit to this lawsuit. I give kudos to the new board."
Three new trustees -- Timothy Morgan, Nicolas Boatner and Janet Burson -- were elected in November, unseating three incumbents.