Illinois Nursing Home Found Not to be Negligent for Choosing Not to Protect the Plaintiff Against a Third Party’s Criminal Attack

On Sept. 18, 2007, Kimberly Vinci entered Balmoral Nursing Home as a resident. Vinci was to receive general nursing and rehabilitation care.  Balmoral has 200 patients who are largely unsupervised. The Balmoral staff is often present and the exit doors are equipped with alarms, although there are no security guards or cameras inside the nursing home facility.

Balmoral residents are allowed to walk around the public areas unsupervised. 

Balmoral houses about 120 patients who are being treated for diagnosed mental illnesses.  The nursing home screens all incoming patients for any sign of violent tendencies.  Patients who have histories of heroin use, sex offenses, violence or suicidal behavior are refused admittance.

Balmoral’s staff interviews patients and staff at any prior nursing home to screen out those who have anger control issues, violent histories or criminal backgrounds.

On Nov. 14, 2007, Vinci entered an elevator, which stopped on the second floor on its way up.  On the second floor, Vinci saw another patient, K.P., who was deciding on whether to enter the elevator.  Vinci impatiently told K.P. to make up his mind, and K.P. decided to enter. 

Once the door of the elevator closed, K.P. attacked Vinci, bruising one of her eyes, face, an ear and one of her hands, arms and thighs.  Vinci activated the alarm, but the doors did not open until the elevator arrived on the third floor.  The Balmoral nursing home staff responded immediately and gave first aid to Vince and then had her sent to a nearby hospital where she received additional medical attention.

K.P. then fled Balmoral.  The records indicate that K.P.’s whereabouts are unknown.

K.P. was also a resident in Balmoral at the time.  He had been diagnosed with psycho-affective bipolar disorder and depression; however, he had no record of any violent tendencies or actions prior to his attack of Vinci.

About an hour before the attack on Vinci, K.P. was seen in a state of agitation and confusion.  However, he did not display any aggressive behavior.

Vinci sought no legal remedies against K.P., but she did sue Balmoral for choosing not to warn Vinci of the danger K.P. posed, to secure K.P. so as not to endanger other patients and for negligently failing to supervise and restrain K.P.

Balmoral moved for summary judgment relying on the depositions of Vinci and Balmoral’s administrator.  In the motion, Balmoral argued that there were no issues of material fact and that K.P.’s attack was not reasonably foreseeable.  The Cook County circuit court judge agreed with Balmoral.  Vinci moved to reconsider the ruling, but her motion was denied.  She then took this appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court.

Vinci argued on appeal that there were genuine issues of material fact, that Balmoral had a duty to protect her against even unforeseen attacks and that the trial court erred by allowing Balmoral to support its motion for summary judgment with K.P.’s medical records, which were not available to Vinci. 

The appellate court was not persuaded.  The appeals court found that K.P. committed a criminal act when he attacked Vinci and generally, defendants owed no duty to protect plaintiff from criminal acts except under very narrow circumstances.

Vinci argued that by voluntarily undertaking security procedures, Balmoral imposed a duty on itself.  However, in order for Balmoral to have failed in this duty, Vinci would be required to show that past events indicated that K.P. was likely to perform violent criminal acts.  Vinci relied on a medical treatise, which is not substantive evidence under the Illinois Rules of Evidence 803(18).  K.P. had no history of violent actions, and so Balmoral breached no duty by failing to protect Vinci from his criminal assault.

The Vinci attorneys argued that she was not allowed to see K.P.’s medical records, but they were shown to the judge in camera. It was found that even still, Balmoral’s motion for summary judgment did not rely on any of those undisclosed K.P. records.

Accordingly, the appellate court affirmed the trial judge’s decision granting summary judgment ending the case.

Kimberly Vinci v. Balmoral Home, Inc., 2013 IL App (1st) 130662-U.

Kreisman Law Offices has been successfully handling nursing home abuse cases, nursing home bed sore cases, nursing home negligent cases and nursing home litigation for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Morton Grove, Blue Island, Chicago (Stockyards, Englewood, Burnside, Woodlawn, Washington Park, Hyde Park, Oakland, Ukrainian Village), Berkley, Bellwood, Bensenville, Villa Park, Palatine, Buffalo Grove, Highland Park, Worth, Alsip, Blue Island and Calumet Park, Ill.

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