The Illinois Supreme Court has granted the Chicago Park District's petition for leave to appeal in a case that may have significant implications for units of local government that maintain bike paths.
In Cohen v. Chicago Park District, 2016 Il App (1st) 152889, the plaintiff was riding his bike on the Lakefront Trail near the Shedd Aquarium when his wheel became caught in a crack in the concrete. The crack was approximately three to four feet long, three to four inches wide, and two to three inches deep. Cohen was injured and sued the Park District for willful and wanton conduct.
At trial, the court granted the Park District’s motion for summary judgment, finding the District was immune under Section 3-107(a) of the Tort Immunity Act, which grants absolute immunity from injuries caused by a condition of a “road which provides access to fishing, hunting, or primitive camping, recreational or scenic areas.” Additionally, the trial court found that, even if section 3-107(a) did not apply, the Park District was immune under section 3-106, which provides immunity from injuries occurring on recreational areas, unless the governmental entity has engaged in willful and wanton conduct.
The appellate court reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment, finding, first, that section 3-107(a) immunity applies only to access roads to primitive recreational and scenic areas, and not to the Lakefront Trail. Additionally, the appellate court held that the question of whether the Park District may have engaged in willful and wanton conduct was a question of fact for a jury to determine. The plaintiff had presented evidence that the Park District was aware of the defect in the Lakefront Trail prior to the plaintiff’s injuries. Consequently, according to the appellate court, it was not appropriate for the trial court to hold as a matter of law that the Park District was not willful and wanton.
The Park District appealed the appellate court's ruling, and the District's appeal will be heard by the Illinois Supreme Court. We will report on the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision in this matter when it becomes available.
Post Authored by Jim Rock, Ancel Glink