Appeals panel: Chicago not liable for man's fall after stepping out of cab on crumbling curb

By John Breslin | Oct 1, 2018

CHICAGO – A man injured after stepping on a crumbled curb following his exit from a cab has no claim against the city of Chicago, a state appeals court has ruled.

On Sept. 24, a three-justice panel of the Illinois First District Appellate Court in Chicago affirmed a Cook County judge's ruling that it would be "unduly expensive and burdensome" to require the city to maintain all curb areas for people exiting cabs.

Justice Carl Walker authored the opinion. Justices Mary Mikva and John Griffin concurred.

The appellate justices pondered the question over whether a person stepping out of a cab is covered by Illinois' Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act. Under the Act, a municipality has a duty to manage the upkeep of a sidewalk for people leaving a legally parked car.

Thomas Decker sued the city over allegations of negligence after stepping out of a cab on Michigan Avenue in June 2016. He claimed to have stepped on a "crumbling and eroding curb which caused him to trip and fall," the ruling states.

He argued that the "city negligently failed to maintain the curb in a safe condition for pedestrians utilizing it to enter or exit taxis," according to the ruling.

Justice Walker wrote Cook County Circuit Judge John P. Callahan was not wrong in rejecting the plaintiff's request  "to expand the duty because imposition of such a duty would be unduly expensive and burdensome to the municipality."

"Illinois recognizes a duty for municipalities to maintain the area immediately around a legally parked vehicle because permitted curbside parking necessarily entails pedestrian use of the street immediately around the parked vehicle and thus the local entity must have intended that use," Walker wrote in the ruling.

"After careful consideration of these factors, we hold that that while it is entirely foreseeable and likely that such injuries will occur to pedestrians entering or exiting a legally stopped taxi, requiring municipalities to maintain areas immediately surrounding a legally stopped taxi would impose upon a municipality a duty to maintain areas immediately around all city streets in their entirety, which would be unduly expensive and burdensome..

"Therefore, we hold that a municipality does not owe a duty to maintain the area immediately around a legally stopped taxi," Walker wrote.

According to Cook County court records, Decker has been represented in the case by attorney John Berg, of Chicago.

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Circuit Court of Cook County City of Chicago Illinois First District Appellate Court John R. Berg

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