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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Court Dismisses Case Against Park District

A woman filed a lawsuit against a park district after she was impaled by a piece of rebar protruding from a railroad tie that was on park property. The park district claimed it was immune from liability, arguing that under the Tort Immunity Act, the railroad tie constituted a “condition” of the park property intended or permitted to be used for recreational purposes. The plaintiff argued that her injuries did not occur on a “trail” within the meaning of the Tort Immunity Act because the Act only applied to “physical” or “natural” conditions.

Section 3-107 of the Tort Immunity Act provides:

Neither a local public entity nor a public employee is liable for an injury caused by a condition of: (a) Any road which provides access to fishing, hunting, or primitive camping, recreational, or scenic areas and which is not a (1) city, town or village street, (2) county, state or federal highway or (3) a township or other road district highway. (b) Any hiking, riding, fishing or hunting trail.

Both the trial and appellate courts ruled in favor of the park district. The courts found that if the legislature meant for the Tort Immunity Act to only apply to trails that were in a “natural” condition, it could have easily added such an exception, noting that “countless numbers of dangerous conditions, both naturally and unnaturally occurring, exist on access roads and trails to which the Tort Immunity Act applies.” The courts further found that the railroad tie was a “condition” of the trail within the meaning of the Tort Immunity Act. As a result, the park district was entitled to absolute immunity from plaintiff’s injuries and the case was dismissed. Colella v. Lombard Park District.

Post Authored by Jessi DeWalt, Ancel Glink 


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