Illinois Appellate Court Rules City Cannot Be Held Liable in Elevator Repair Injury Case

In a recent case, an Illinois appellate court in the Sixth Division considered the potential liability of an elevator contractor who was responsible for inspecting an elevator and who was employed by the City of Chicago’s Bureau of Elevators. According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, the husband and the inspector were working as elevator servicepersons in Chicago in March 2015. While performing an inspection of elevators located inside an apartment building, the inspector ordered the husband to climb into the pit of an elevator shaft and to test components of the elevator. While the husband was inside the elevator, the inspector caused it to descend, striking the husband.

The husband filed a claim against the inspector and other defendants, including the City of Chicago, and his wife filed a claim for loss of consortium. Shortly after they filed the complaint, the husband died. Roughly two months later, the City of Chicago, a defendant in the action, brought a motion to dismiss, alleging that the action was barred according to sections 2-105 and 2-207 of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (the Act).

Section 2-105 states:  “A local public entity is not liable for injury caused by its failure to make an inspection, or by reason of making an inadequate or negligent inspection, of any property, other than its own, to determine whether the property complies with or violates any enactment or contains or constitutes a hazard to health or safety.”

In moving to dismiss based on these provisions, the inspector stated that the lawsuit was improper based on the husband’s allegations that he was injured as a result of an improperly conducted inspection performed by a City of Chicago inspector.

The trial court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, and the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. In the amended complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that the inspector’s conduct was willful and wanton and that the supervisor ordered the husband to climb into the elevator pit with the deliberate and direct knowledge that it was improper for a serviceperson to enter the elevator pit during a test of the elevator’s switch. The complaint also stated that the inspector consciously disregarded instructions from the husband’s supervisor, instructing him to stay clear of the pit during an elevator switch test. The defendants again moved to dismiss, and the circuit court granted the motion and dismissed the plaintiffs’ complaint with prejudice.

The plaintiffs appealed the dismissal. On review, the appellate court concluded that the lower court properly dismissed the complaint because the City had satisfied its burden of showing that the inspector was acting within the course and scope of his employment for the City and that sections 2-105 and 2-207 properly applied. In reviewing the record, the appellate court also noted that the plaintiffs failed to offer any evidentiary support to refute a conclusion that the inspector’s conduct was done for the purpose of determining whether the elevators posed a safety hazard.

If you have been injured while on the job, you may be entitled to compensation. Knowing who is responsible for your injuries and identifying the appropriate entities to name in a legal action can be one of the most daunting aspects of bringing a lawsuit. At Therman Law Offices, our Chicago-based team of work injury lawyers can assist you with every aspect of the litigation, including gathering evidence and negotiating with insurance companies. To schedule your free consultation, call us now at 312-588-1900 or contact us online.

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