Kearney Spearheads Efforts To Persuade IL Supreme Court To Retain Public Duty Doctrine

January 7, 2015 / News

.. To Protect Illinois Local Governmental Units


The public duty doctrine holds that local governmental entities, including police and firefighters, have a duty to protect the public at large, not any individual citizen. This doctrine has long prevented individuals from recovering damages in tort from local governments for failure to provide adequate services. In Coleman v. East Joliet Fire Protection District, Kim Kearney of CM’s Appellate Practice Group persuaded the Appellate Court of Illinois, Third District, to affirm summary judgment in favor of a fire protection district and one of its 911 dispatchers in a wrongful death action brought by the estate of woman who died from cardiac arrest while waiting for an ambulance. The Court of Appeals enforced the public duty rule but the Illinois Supreme Court is presently reviewing the case to consider whether the public duty rule should still be the law in Illinois or whether local governments and their employees may be sued for all torts for which a private person would be liable. The Illinois Trial Lawyers Association is heavily backing Coleman.

Kim will appear before the Illinois Supreme Court in March to argue that it should rebuff the efforts of the plaintiffs’ bar and retain the public duty doctrine to protect the scarce assets of Illinois local governing bodies.  She will report further as the appeal progresses. The CM Municipal Defense and Appellate Practice Groups have a long and successful history of guarding municipal leaders against lawsuits and large jury verdicts which could significantly impact the taxpayer.

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