Articles Posted in Tort Immunity

Tyrone Lawson, 17, was the son of the plaintiff, Pamela Wright-Young, when he  was fatally shot outside a high school basketball game.  As the administrator of her son’s estate, his mother brought this wrongful death and survival action lawsuit against the Board of Education of the City of Chicago (Board) and the Chief of Police and Student Services for Chicago State University. The university’s Jones Convocation Center was the venue in which the basketball game was held.

Throughout the pendency of this case, the trial court rejected various statutory immunities asserted by the Board. The case was tried and a jury concluded that the Board was liable, but the Chief of Police of Chicago State University was not. The jury signed a general verdict in favor of Wright-Young for damages in the amount of $3.5 million. The Board appealed.

The Illinois Appellate Court concluded that the trial court erroneously rejected the Board’s claim of absolute immunity with respect to most of the theories of liability presented at trial, as those theories all related to the Board’s choosing not to provide adequate police protection services.

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In a divided First District Appellate Court decision, it was found that a private ambulance company cannot get the benefit of immunity given to emergency vehicles for a collision its medic allegedly caused. The appeals panel found that because the defendant, Joshua M. Nicholas, wasn’t transporting a patient in his Lifeline ambulance at the time he collided with the plaintiff, Roberto Hernandez, Nicholas and Lifeline were not immune from liability under state law.

The State Emergency Medical Services Systems Act immunizes ambulatory agencies and their employees if they’re providing emergency or non-emergency medical services. The Illinois Supreme Court in Wilkins v. Williams, 2013 IL 114310 held that “non-emergency medical services” included the non-emergency transport of a patient.

Nicholas was on his way to pick up a patient in Villa Park when he collided with Hernandez’s car on March 11, 2016 while exiting the upper lanes of Lake Shore Drive in Streeterville. As a result, state law did not “provide Nicholas or Lifeline with immunity from liability for any negligent acts or omissions which proximately resulted in damages to the plaintiff.”

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In the early morning hours of April 19, 2010, Chantel Jobes was driving a vehicle alone and left the southbound lane of Highway 11, crossed the northbound lane and crashed into a concrete railroad trestle. Jobes was seriously injured and filed a lawsuit against the Norfolk Southern Railway Co., the Mississippi Transportation Commission and the Mississippi Department of Transportation. The trial judge denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court of Mississippi granted the defendants’ request for an interlocutory appeal and that court entered summary judgment in their favor.

Jobes was working at TGI Fridays in Hattiesburg, Miss., when she started her shift as the manager at 4 p.m. on April 18, 2010. She finished her shift at approximately 1:30 a.m. the morning of April 19 and then went directly to a 24/7 gym nearby to work out, which was her normal routine. After about an hour at the gym, she headed to a friend’s house to celebrate his birthday. She does not remember the party, but her friends told her that she “didn’t want to finish the cocktail drink [she] had,” and she wanted to go home.

Jobes left the birthday party and drove toward her home. The crash described above occurred about 4:42 a.m. on April 19. The weather was clear and dry, and the crash injuries were life-threatening. Jobes was driving with a suspended license and was legally intoxicated and also had prescription anti-anxiety medication in her system. Jobes testified at her deposition that she had worked 3 straight weeks without a day off up until the crash. She could not remember a time when she had been more stressed.

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A lawsuit was filed against the Chicago Zoological Society, which operates Brookfield Zoo, on land owned by the Cook County Forest Preserve District. The case was filed by Kristine O’Toole for injuries that she suffered when she fell because of an alleged defect in the pavement.

The defendant, the Chicago Zoological Society, which is a not-for-profit corporation, moved to dismiss the lawsuit under the Illinois Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, which includes a shortened statute of limitations — that being one-year rather than two years for the usual tort claim. The shortened one-year deadline applies to “any not-for-profit corporation organized for the purpose of conducting public business.”

The Cook County judge granted the motion dismissing O’Toole’s case because she had not filed the lawsuit within the one-year statute of limitations from the date of her injury that the judge decided applied. She took an appeal claiming that the defendant did not qualify as a “local public entity” that would impose the one-year statute.

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