Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Johnson v. King

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 22, 1977.

EARLEAN JOHNSON ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,

v.

FRANK KING ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ABRAHAM W. BRUSSELL, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE PERLIN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiffs, Earlean Johnson and Patricia Johnson, appeal from an order of the circuit court dismissing their complaint against defendants, Frank King and Andrew Tucker, both deputy sheriffs of Cook County, for plaintiffs' failure to comply with section 8-102 (the notice provisions) of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 85, par. 8-102). On appeal they contend (1) that the circuit court's application of section 8-102 to the facts at bar deprives them of their rights to due process and equal protection under section two of article I of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 and the fourteenth amendment of the United States Constitution, and (2) that section 8-102 does not apply to wilful and wanton misconduct of governmental employees or to actions of governmental employees outside the scope of their employment.

On December 20, 1973, plaintiffs filed a 12-count complaint against defendants, Frank King and Andrew Tucker, deputy sheriffs of Cook County, and Martin Novak, a Chicago policeman. Plaintiffs claimed in their complaint that on December 28, 1971, defendants forced their way into plaintiffs' home and maliciously, wilfully and wantonly beat plaintiffs. The complaint made no reference to defendants' employer or to the scope of defendants' employment. Nearly two years had elapsed from the date of the alleged injury to the date of the filing of the complaint.

Defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to section 48 of the Illinois Civil Practice Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 110, par. 48) asserting plaintiffs' failure to comply with section 8-102 (the notice provisions) of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act. Plaintiffs had not personally served the governmental entity with notice of the alleged injury within six months of the date of the alleged injury as was required by section 8-102. In support of their motion defendants attached an affidavit setting forth that they were deputy sheriffs on December 28, 1971, and that they were at plaintiffs' home on official business, serving an attachment for contempt on Arthur Johnson. Plaintiffs had neither filed a verified complaint nor did they file a counteraffidavit, and defendants' affidavit thus stood unrebutted.

The circuit court granted the motion of defendants, Frank King and Andrew Tucker, to dismiss, and the case below proceeded against Martin Novak who had filed an answer to plaintiffs' complaint and is not a party to this appeal. When the circuit court denied plaintiffs' motion to vacate the dismissal order, plaintiffs appealed to this court.

Initially plaintiffs contend that section 8-102 of the Tort Immunity Act deprives them of their rights to due process and equal protection of the laws under the respective clauses of the United States (U.S. Const., amend. XIV, § 1) *fn1 and Illinois (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, § 2) *fn2 Constitutions. However, they cite no case authority for their contention.

• 1, 2 In King v. Johnson (1970), 47 Ill.2d 247, 265 N.E.2d 874, our supreme court found sections 8-102 and 8-103 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 85, pars. 8-102 and 8-103) to apply equally to all those in the same class — local governmental entities and their employees — and not to violate the provision of the Illinois Constitution prohibiting special laws and special privileges and immunities (Ill. Const. 1870, art. II, § 14; art. iv, § 22). In following King, Housewright v. City of LaHarpe (1972), 51 Ill.2d 357, 282 N.E.2d 437, held that neither the requirement of notice of sections 8-102 and 8-103 nor the limitation of the time within which the notice must be given deprives plaintiffs of their constitutional guarantees of due process of law and equal protection of the law.

• 3 We have previously applied the equal protection test enunciated in S. Bloom, Inc. v. Mahin (1975), 61 Ill.2d 70, 76, 329 N.E.2d 213, 217, to the legislative provisions in question. (Panko v. County of Cook (1st Dist. 1976), 42 Ill. App.3d 912, 356 N.E.2d 859.) The test used in Panko first identifies the purposes or objectives of a legislative scheme and then asks whether the controverted classification bears a rational relationship to a legitimate legislative purpose. Panko found the notice requirement to have a rational relationship to the legislative purpose of imposing tort liability on all local governmental entities on a fair and orderly basis.

The applicable statute in the instant case is identical to the statute applied in Panko. Moreover, Housewright held that sections 8-102 and 8-103 do not violate the constitutional guarantees of due process of law and equal protection of the law. Consistent with Housewright and with Panko we believe that the classification created by section 8-102 is reasonable and has not infringed plaintiffs' rights to due process and equal protection of the laws.

Plaintiffs further contend that the court below improperly applied section 8-102 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 85, par. 8-102) to the facts in the instant case. Specifically they argue that the Act does not apply when individuals are charged with wilful and wanton misconduct, and that the question of whether defendants were acting within the scope of their employment is a question of fact and should have been left for jury determination. In support of this contention plaintiffs rely solely on Hampton v. City of Chicago (7th Cir. 1973), 484 F.2d 602.

Hampton is a Federal case dealing primarily with plaintiffs' rights to maintain claims against governmental entities and governmental employees under the Federal Civil Rights Act (42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985(3)). Defendants attempt to distinguish Hampton by reference to the Federal court's holding that state law cannot immunize conduct by persons acting under color of state law which conduct is violative of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or § 1985(3). However, Hampton also refers to common law counts of assault and battery, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution and interprets Arnolt v. City of Highland Park (1972), 52 Ill.2d 27, 282 N.E.2d 144, to hold that the Illinois Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 85, par. 1-101 et seq.) does not immunize municipal corporations from liability if their agents are guilty of wilful and wanton misconduct. Hampton, at 610-11.

In the instant case plaintiffs never served notice of their civil action for damages but filed their complaint nearly two years after the date of the alleged injuries. The complaint which was not verified alleged that defendants maliciously, wilfully and wantonly beat plaintiffs. It made no reference to defendants' employer or to the scope of defendants' employment. Subsequently defendants filed a motion to dismiss. In support of their motion defendants attached an affidavit setting forth that they were deputy sheriffs on December 28, 1971, and that they were at plaintiffs' home on official business, serving an attachment for contempt on Arthur Johnson. Plaintiffs filed no counteraffidavit and defendants' affidavit thus stood unrebutted and must be taken as true. D'Urso v. Wildheim (1st Dist. 1976), 37 Ill. App.3d 835, 347 N.E.2d 463.

Plaintiffs in the instant case make no distinction between the proof requirements and the notice requirements of the Illinois Tort Immunity Act. According to Hampton and Arnolt plaintiffs who prove that defendants' wilful and wanton conduct caused them damages will not be barred recovery by the Illinois Tort Immunity Act. However, section 8-102 of the Act encourages early investigation and prompt settlement of claims. Also the notice requirement aids governmental entities in determining their budgets in advance for tax purposes. The purpose of the notice requirement of section 8-102 of the Act is to encourage early investigation at a time when witnesses are available, conditions have not materially changed and meritorious claims may be promptly settled. (Saragusa v. City of Chicago (1976), 63 Ill.2d 288, 348 N.E.2d 176; King v. Johnson (1970), 47 Ill.2d 247, 265 N.E.2d 874.) The notice requirement of section 8-102 has been held to apply to all tort actions brought against local governments. (Ritsema-Willgard, Inc. v. McDermott & Co. (N.D. Ill. 1969), 295 F. Supp. 180.) Moreover, in Dear v. Locke (2d Dist. 1970), 128 Ill. App.2d 356, 262 N.E.2d 27, a complaint against two sheriffs alleging false imprisonment was dismissed for failure to comply with the notice requirement of section 8-102. In Ramos v. Armstrong (3d Dist. 1972), 8 Ill. App.3d 503, 289 N.E.2d 709, a complaint against two police officers alleging false arrest, malicious prosecution and battery was also dismissed for failure to comply with the notice requirements of section 8-102. Both appellate courts> affirmed the orders of the courts> below.

In the instant case plaintiffs filed their complaint nearly two years after the date of the alleged injuries without having filed notice in accordance with section 8-102. Their complaint alleged that defendants maliciously, wilfully and wantonly beat plaintiffs. In their motion to vacate the dismissal order plaintiffs ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.