Fisherman John A. Smith, owner of the fishing vessel Firth of St. John, sued the state of Illinois for $2.4 million in July after his fishing license was revoked because he had a second job and had to hire an attorney.
Smith sued the Department of Natural Resources for the termination of his fishing licenses and the imposition of an unfair labor practice, claiming that he was unfairly penalized because of his work with a commercial vessel.
He also claims that he is entitled to be paid for the work he did for the vessel.
Smith’s lawsuit said the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity violated his civil rights and the state constitution when it terminated his fishing permit in January.
The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case.
Smith said in a statement that he’s confident that he will prevail.
“I hope that the Illinois courts will reject the claim and allow me to pursue my rights and compensation for the labor I did on the boat,” Smith said.
“The Illinois Department is not an employee of the state and has no legal authority to terminate my fishing license.
I am hopeful that the courts will uphold the right of the legislature to take away the rights of citizens to work on public vessels.”
Smith said he was given an opportunity to work as a full-time employee and that he chose to accept.
“Fishing is a profession where we take pride in the skills and the knowledge that we gain through the water and the sport we enjoy,” Smith wrote.
“It is a true job, and I have worked hard to earn my livelihood.”
Smith has owned the boat since it was built in 2011.
Smith was granted his fishing rights in May, and the Illinois legislature approved his suspension in June.
The Illinois Department for the Environment has not issued any disciplinary actions against Smith.
The department said in its decision that it has not received any complaints about Smith.
Smith is seeking an injunction and unspecified damages.
He is seeking a court order barring the state from further restricting his fishing privileges.