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Friday, March 27, 2015

City Immune from Flooding Lawsuit

In 2006, the Chicago area was hit with a two-day heavy rainstorm that caused widespread flooding. A group of residents of Chicago Heights sued the City after their homes were damaged by flooding. They claim that the City was negligent in allowing the City's sewer system to overflow into their homes.  The City countered that it was immune from suit under the Tort Immunity Act.  The appellate court agreed, and ruled in favor of the City in an unpublished decision, Nichols v. Chicago Heights, 2015 IL App (1st) 122994-U.

The appellate court supported its decision on the basis that the City was protected by discretionary immunity under section 2-201 of the Tort Immunity Act.  For that section to apply, the City's act or omission (in this case, maintenance or operation of the City sewer system) must be both a "determination of policy" and an "exercise of discretion."  Where a municipality engages in a program of public improvement (rather than an implementation of the program), the act or omission is discretionary rather than ministerial.  In this case, the City was clearly acting in its discretionary function in planning its municipal-wide sewer system improvement program, and establishing priorities for constructing those improvements within the City's limited budget.  As a result, the City was immune from the plaintiffs' lawsuit.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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