Tort Immunity Prevents Injured Elevator Serviceman from Recovering for Injuries

The Illinois Appellate Court for the 1st District has affirmed the decision of a Circuit Court judge dismissing the lawsuit for the injuries suffered by Rudy Nourse while working as an elevator serviceman.

On March 20, 2014, Nourse was working for the Suburban Elevator Co. He and his supervisor were “performing an elevator modernization” project at the River North Apartments in Chicago.

Fred Carter was on the site in his capacity as an elevator inspector for the City of Chicago’s Bureau of Elevators. As the inspection was starting, Carter ordered Nourse to climb down into the elevator pit.  Nourse did so and while he was in the pit, Nourse’s supervisor, unaware of Nourse’s location, powered up the elevator, which descended into the shaft and struck Nourse, injuring him.

On March 13, 2015, Nourse and his wife Lauren filed a lawsuit against Carter and the City of Chicago.  On May 27, 2015, Carter died, but his estate was never substituted as a party defendant. On July 26, 2015, the City of Chicago moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the action was barred by Section 2-105 and 2-207 of the Local Government and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act.

The City noted that statutory immunity applied because Nourse, in his complaint, had asserted he had been injured as a result of Carter’s specific conduct during an inspection. The Circuit Court judge granted the motion to dismiss.

Nourse filed an amended complaint claiming that he was ordered into the elevator pit prior to the start of the inspection and that it was “unrelated to and not part of any inspection [Carter] intended to perform.”

The plaintiff Nourse claimed that Carter’s conduct was willful and wanton, as he had known that the supervisor had told Nourse not to go into the pit during the testing of the pit switch. Nourse also claimed that Carter had been negligent in not telling Nourse’s supervisor he had gone into the elevator pit.

The City moved to dismiss on the same grounds as the first motion and the Circuit Court granted the motion. Nourse appealed.

Nourse argued that for the cited immunity provisions to apply, the injury must not only occur in connection with an inspection, but that it must stem from a specific condition in a property that violated applicable code provisions.

The appellate court agreed that a specific condition of the property that was in violation of the code could serve to waive immunity, but declined to make this a requirement of those sections of the act.

The appeals panel noted that immunity did apply because “all of plaintiff’s assertions of wrongdoing were allegedly committed by City inspectors while at the . . . building for the purposes of conducting inspections.”

The appellate court held that this was also true in the instant lawsuit because regardless of whether Carter ordered Nourse into the pit prior to the inspection officially beginning as Nourse claimed. Accordingly, the appellate court affirmed the Circuit Court’s decision dismissing the Nourse lawsuit.

Rudy Nourse, et al. v. Fred Carter, et al., 2017 IL App (1st) 1160664 (March 24, 2017).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling worker injury lawsuits, construction site injury lawsuits, catastrophic injury cases, truck crash cases, automobile accident cases and motorcycle injury lawsuits for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Tinley Park, Winnetka, Winfield, Westchester, Long Grove, New Lenox, Lemont, River Grove, Rosemont, Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Wheeling, Vernon Hills, Glenview, Northfield, Chicago (Wicker Park, Logan Square, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, West Town, Little Italy, Greek Town, Hyde Park, Wrigleyville), Schaumburg, Flossmoor, Gurnee and Lake Forest, Ill.

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