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Phillips v. Chicago Housing Authority

OPINION FILED FEBRUARY 2, 1982.

ELIZA PHILLIPS, ADM'R, APPELLEE,

v.

THE CHICAGO HOUSING AUTHORITY, APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Louis J. Giliberto, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE WARD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This appeal is from a negligence action brought in the circuit court of Cook County for the wrongful death and personal injuries of plaintiff's decedent, a resident of a housing project operated by the defendant, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). The circuit court struck the complaint for failure to state a cause of action and also three successive amended complaints. Upon striking the third amended complaint, the court dismissed the case with prejudice. The appellate court concluded that a cause of action was stated and reversed and remanded for further proceedings. (91 Ill. App.3d 544.) We granted the CHA's petition for leave to appeal.

The plaintiff's third amended complaint alleged:

"1. The plaintiff's decedent, DEBRA PHILLIPS, was a minor who resided at 1119 North Cleveland Street, which is located in the Cabrini Green Housing Project in Chicago.

2. Cabrini Green is a public housing development of approximately 78 buildings, owned, operated, maintained and controlled by the CHA.

3. At the time of Debra's death and for a long time prior thereto numerous incidents of crimes of extreme violence had taken place on the premises in question in the possession and control of the defendant. The offenses included criminal homicides, aggravated assaults, and rapes of adults and minors. The crimes were committed against tenants, their families, and their invitees and licensees. In particular, crimes of rape of female minors had taken place in the areas which later were secured or locked by the defendant as described hereafter in paragraph 5.

4. At all times concerned, the defendant knew or by exercise of due care and caution should have known of the existence of these crimes.

5. At some time prior to April 2, 1977, the CHA closed and locked off certain floors of the aforementioned building to prevent criminals, of whom they knew or in the exercise of due care and caution should have known, from entering these floors to conduct criminal activities and to keep the premises safe for the tenants of the building.

6. On April 2, 1977, Debra was abducted by persons unknown and violently assaulted and raped and taken to and beaten on one of the allegedly secured floors and was thrown out a window on that floor, causing her death.

7. At that time and place the CHA negligently and carelessly committed one or more of the following acts:

(a) kept the keys to the closed-off floors in an area or place that was known to or accessible to the general public or to those criminals that the CHA knew or should have known came on the premises;

(b) left the keys to the elevator allowing travel to the closed off floors accessible to the general public and to those criminals that the CHA knew or should have known came on the premises;

(c) failed to inspect the elevator to determine if it had been prevented from being stopped at the closed-off floors;

(d) failed to inspect the doors to the closed-off area to determine if the locks were working so as to bar ...


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