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Thursday, September 15, 2022

Court Finds Village Had Discretionary Immunity in Motorcycle Accident Case

In Page v. Village of Coal City, an Illinois Appellate Court determined that a village was immune from liability for an injury resulting from a village employee’s actions because the village employee had a position with discretion to make decisions.

A motorcyclist was driving on a local road when her motorcycle tires hit a section of loose gravel, and as a result, she lost control and was thrown off the motorcycle. She filed a negligence claim against the village. The trial court found in favor of the village, and the motorcyclist appealed.

The court determined that the liability of the village depended on whether the village employee who was responsible for village road maintenance served in a position requiring discretionary actions or solely ministerial tasks. Under provisions of the state's Tort Immunity Act, actions by municipal employees are treated differently whether the employees are exercising discretionary authority or acting in a ministerial fashion. As a general rule, the Act provides certain immunities to municipalities for actions of their employees who have the discretion to make judgment calls.

In this case, the Appellate Court determined that the village employee responsible for road repairs held a position requiring an exercise of discretion. The court pointed to the fact the village employee made a conscious decision to gravel the hazardous road and leave the roadway open to traffic until it could be repaved by an outside contractor months later. That employee's decision had been based on multiple factors including village budget, costs, and safety, which supported the village's argument that its employee engaged in a policy determination. While the court acknowledged that the public works roadcrew adhered to a set process in repairing the road, there was no indication in this case that the roadcrew failed to complete the work in a reasonably safe and skillful manner. In sum, the Appellate Court upheld the trial court's ruling that the village had discretionary immunity.

Post Authored by Katie Nagy & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


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