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Friday, September 28, 2018

City Owes No Duty To Pedestrians Exiting Taxis

Unsurprisingly, in an unreported opinion, the Court has again refused to expand the duty owed by a municipality to pedestrians exiting vehicles, specifically taxis. Decker v. City of Chicago, 2018 IL App (1st) 171066- U

Decker claims he was injured when he exited a legally stopped taxi and stepped onto a crumbling and eroding curb and sued the City of Chicago. The City filed a motion to dismiss arguing that the curb where Decker fell was located outside of the sidewalk, so Decker was not an intended user of the curb. The Court agreed with the City, and dismissed the case and Decker appealed.

As background, Section 3-102 (a) of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (“Tort Immunity Act”) imposes a duty on municipalities only where the person injured is an intended and permitted user of the property controlled by the municipality. The general rule in Illinois is that a municipality does not owe a duty to pedestrians who walks or crosses in a public roadway outside of a crosswalk. The reasoning is that streets are intended for cars and not for pedestrians. The Supreme Court has, however, recognized a very narrow exception which concerns only the permitted and intended use of the street immediately around a legally parked vehicle by its exiting and entering vehicle operators and passengers.  Decker argues that the taxi stopping to drop him off was essentially a legal stopped vehicle, meaning he fell within this narrow exception and the City was liable for his injuries. The Court disagreed.

The following factors are considered in determining whether a duty is owed by a municipality: (1) the foreseeability that the municipality’s conduct will result in injury; (2) likelihood of injury; (3) magnitude of guarding against it; and, (4) the consequences of placing that burden upon the defendant. The Court here ultimately concluded that while it was entirely possible that an injury like Decker’s would occur to people getting into or getting out of a taxi, the burden of requiring municipalities to maintain the areas surrounding a legally stopped taxi would be unduly expensive and burdensome. Plus, taxis can stop anywhere and by expanding the duty to any location a taxi decides to stop would swallow the intended user rule of Section 3-102(a) because it would allow taxi cab drivers to create a municipal duty of care where one does not exist every single time they drop off a passenger.

Decker v. City of Chicago is not the first, nor will it be the last case to try and convince the Court to expand the narrow rule involving the duty owed to a person exiting and/or entering a vehicle. Stay tuned…

Post Authored by Christy Michaelson, Ancel Glink


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