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Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Summary Judgment on Vicarious Liability Claims in Premises Liability Action Involving Gym

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One of the most common ways that individuals can find themselves suffering from a painful and debilitating injury is in a premises liability incident. There are many places and ways that premises liability accidents can happen, but slip and falls are among the most common. As experienced Illinois premises liability lawyers, we have handled countless slip and fall claims and we are ready to help you secure the settlement or judgment that you deserve.

An Illinois appellate court recently considered a case involving a personal injury accident that took place in a gym. The plaintiff was exercising at the facility under the supervision of a trainer when she slipped and fell on a plyometric step, which is an unsecured piece of equipment. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the facility, its corporate affiliate, and the personal trainer alleging negligence as well as willful and wanton conduct. The plaintiff also included a claim for vicarious liability, asserting that the personal trainer was acting as the corporate affiliate’s employee at the time of the injury.

The trial court dismissed the claims alleging willful and wanton conduct against the corporate affiliate but left the allegations against the trainer. Later in the proceedings, the trial court granted summary judgment on all of the plaintiff’s negligence claims based on a waiver-of-liability clause included in the agreement that the plaintiff signed when she joined the facility.

The plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration, challenging only part of the trial court’s summary judgment order. The plaintiff claimed that the vicarious liability causes of action against the corporate defendants alleged that the employee engaged in both negligent and willful and wanton conduct. Accordingly, the plaintiff alleged that the counts against the corporate defendant based on vicarious liability should stand pending adjudication of the willful and wanton claim against the employee/trainer.

The trial court denied the plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration and subsequent motion for leave to amend the complaint. The plaintiff appealed. On review, the appellate court reversed, finding that the vicarious liability claims included allegations alleging willful and wanton conduct on behalf of the trainer/employee. To the extent the plaintiff could establish that the trainer/employee was willful and wanton, the corporate defendants would be vicariously liable. Accordingly, the appellate court reversed the order of summary judgment on these claims and remanded the action for further proceedings. In its decision, however, the court noted that the allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint were poorly drafted and would have benefited from greater clarity. Despite the inartfulness of the complaint allegations, the court noted that the correct components of the claim were in the vicarious liability causes of action and that summary judgment was improper.

If you were injured in a premises liability accident or as the result of another person’s carelessness, you may be entitled to compensation. At Therman Law Offices, we treat each client with the patience and attention that they deserve during this confusing time. We will ensure that you receive the attentive and responsive legal guidance that you deserve throughout the entire claim, from investigation to dealing with insurance companies. To set up your free consultation call us at 773-545-8849 or contact us online to get started.

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