Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. EDWARD
G. SCHULTZ, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.
MR. JUSTICE MURPHY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT. Rehearing denied September 17, 1968.
This is a wrongful death action. On December 24, 1963, the decedent, Robert W. Traudt, was piloting his private airplane with the intention of landing at Meigs Field, a public airport located in Chicago on a man-made island or peninsula in Lake Michigan. The airplane "became mechanically inoperative," and he made an emergency landing upon Lake Michigan adjacent to Meigs Field and was drowned.
Plaintiff, as administratrix of the decedent's estate, and in a 3-count complaint, sued (1) the City of Chicago, as the owner of Meigs Field; (2) Butler Aviation Corporation, as the "licensee, tenant, manager or agent" of the airport; and (3) D.E.C. Aviation Corporation, from whom the decedent purchased the airplane, which was delivered to him on December 24, 1963, at Meigs Field.
Plaintiff's amended complaint alleges substantially that the negligence of the City of Chicago and Butler Aviation resulted in the death of plaintiff's decedent by drowning, because either or both failed to provide and maintain rescue equipment for emergency landings on the lake within close proximity to the airport.
The plaintiff administratrix appeals from an order which struck plaintiff's amended complaint and dismissed the action, with prejudice, as to defendants City of Chicago and Butler Aviation only, because of "plaintiff's failure to state a legal duty owed by these defendants to plaintiff's decedent."
On appeal, plaintiff's determinative contentions are: (A) Defendants owed a duty to plaintiff's decedent to so operate, manage and control said airport so that it would be reasonably safe for plaintiff's decedent to use same and not to unreasonably expose him to danger. (B) Defendants breached their aforesaid duty by failing to provide or have a life boat, a helicopter, a life gun or other safety appurtenances and appliances at said airport for emergency purposes when it knew, or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known or foreseen the need for such appurtenances or appliances, inasmuch as said airport was located on the waters of Lake Michigan.
Plaintiff's authorities on airport operation, management and duties to users include:
8 Am Jur2d 702, Aviation, § 79:
"The law places on the proprietor of an airport or airfield the obligation to see that it is safe for such aircraft as are entitled to use it, and to give an appropriate warning of any danger or hazard of which the proprietor knows or should know and of which the pilot of an aircraft does not know or may not reasonably be deemed to know. For a breach of this duty, the proprietor may be held liable for injuries to or the death of persons, or damage to property, proximately resulting from the operation of aircraft at the airport or airfield, and since a municipality or county in operating an airport is deemed, in the absence of a statute providing otherwise, to do so in a proprietary rather than a governmental capacity, this is generally considered as true of a public airport as it is of a private one.
"This duty extends to the keeping of the premises in such a reasonably safe condition that the pilot in landing his aircraft will not be unreasonably exposed to any danger, and the owner of an airport has a duty to keep the runway free from obstructions, so far as possible, or to place markers warning pilots of danger."
Peavey v. City of Miami, 146 Fla 629, 1 So.2d 614, 617 (1941):
". . . the law imposes a duty to use proper care, precaution, and diligence in providing and maintaining the accommodations in a reasonably safe condition for the purposes to which they are adapted, and are apparently designed to be used. If the accommodations for any reason are not reasonably suitable and safe for the purposes for which they may ordinarily and apparently be used in a customary way, the public should be excluded from their use, or appropriate notice of their unsuitable or unsafe condition should be so given as to warn persons of dangers in using them. A failure to perform these duties or any of them may be negligence that, if it proximately results in injury to another without his fault, will constitute a cause of action for compensatory damages."
Mills v. Orcas Power & Light Co., 56 Wn.2d 807, 355 P.2d 781, 784 (1960):
"That the primary duty of marking the poles and lines to caution landing aircraft was upon the owners and operators of the airport itself, there can be little doubt. A public airfield extends an implied invitation to aircraft, and the duty owed, ...