Supreme Court Summaries
Opinions filed October 18, 2012
Moore v. Chicago Park District, 2012 IL 112788
Appellate citation: 2011 IL App (1st) 103325.
JUSTICE KARMEIER delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Justices Thomas, Garman, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.
Chief Justice Kilbride dissented, with opinion, joined by Justice Freeman.
This case of a personal injury which resulted in a death is at the procedural stage. There has been no trial.
In January of 2006, a woman who was attending a senior water aerobics class at a Chicago Park District fieldhouse slipped and fell while attempting to step over a pile of snow that had been collected at the edge of the parking lot due to plowing. She fractured her femur and had surgery, but later suffered complications which led to brain damage, and she died. He estate filed this wrongful-death action for damages in the circuit court of Cook County, alleging that the park district had negligently shoveled and plowed.
Defendant park district claimed immunity based on section 3106 of the Tort Immunity Act, which provides that there can be no liability “based on the existence of a condition of any public property intended or permitted to be used for recreational purposes.” The circuit court certified for interlocutory appeal the legal question of whether an unnatural accumulation of snow and ice constitutes “the existence of a condition of any public property” as this expression is used in section 3-106. The appellate court held that it did not, thus precluding immunity, and the park district appealed.
There is another provision of the Tort Immunity Act (section 3-105) which has been held to provide that, as to local public entities in general, if they undertake snow removal operations, they must exercise due care in doing so. In this decision, the supreme court said that this latter provision has no impact on section 3-106, which specifically applies to recreational property and immunizes public entities from liability for injuries sustained thereon. Thus, the allegation that the snow accumulation here was “unnatural” was irrelevant to the issue of immunity in this particular case because recreational uses were involved. The question should have been answered in the affirmative, and the appellate court was reversed. The cause was remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings.