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Curry v. Chicago Housing Authority

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 30, 1986.

LEROY CURRY, SR., ADM'R OF THE ESTATE OF PATRICIA ANN CURRY, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

CHICAGO HOUSING AUTHORITY ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Alan E. Morrill, Judge, presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE LINN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff, Leroy Curry, Sr., instituted this wrongful-death action on behalf of the estate of Patricia Ann Curry. Leroy's second amended complaint alleges that the decedent died as a result of negligence on the part of the Chicago Housing Authority and the Westinghouse Electric Corporation (referred to jointly as defendants). In essence, the complaint charges that the defendants were negligent in permitting the elevators in the decedent's building to remain in disrepair and that, as a result of this negligence, the decedent was unable to receive the medical treatment she needed in a timely fashion. The complaint further claims that this delay in receiving medical treatment proximately caused the decedent's death.

The defendants immediately moved to dismiss the complaint, claiming that Curry's allegations failed to state a cause of action under Illinois law. After hearing the parties' respective arguments, the trial court agreed with the defendants and dismissed Curry's complaint, finding that the defendants owed no duty to provide continuous elevator service.

Curry now brings this appeal. Curry contends that his complaint states a valid cause of action in that: (1) the defendants, by undertaking to provide elevator service, owed a duty of ordinary care to maintain the elevators in good working condition; (2) policy considerations require the imposition of a duty on the defendants to maintain the elevators in good working condition; and (3) the defendants owed a duty to maintain the elevators in good working condition as a result of certain statutes and regulations.

We affirm.

BACKGROUND

This case follows the trial court's decision to grant the defendants' motion to dismiss. Accordingly, we must accept as true all of the well-pleaded allegations set forth in Curry's complaint and must draw all reasonable inferences in his favor. Cook v. Askew (1975), 34 Ill. App.3d 1055, 341 N.E.2d 13.

Curry's complaint reveals that the plaintiff's decedent was a seventh-floor resident of a building owned, operated, and serviced by the defendants. The building had a single elevator. Prior to March 27, 1983, the elevator became inoperable. The elevator remained inoperable "for a long period of time."

On March 27, 1983, Patricia Curry became ill and Chicago fire department paramedics were called to her aid. Because the elevator was inoperable, the paramedics had to walk up seven flights of stairs to reach Patricia's apartment. After reaching her apartment, the paramedics were then forced (because of the inoperative elevator) to carry Patricia down the seven flights of stairs. Curry alleges that a three-hour time delay was caused by the paramedics' journey up and down the seven flights of stairs. This three-hour delay, in turn, caused Patricia's physical condition to worsen and ultimately led to her death.

Curry claims that the defendants knew that the elevator was inoperable but nevertheless failed to repair it. Curry further claims that the defendants knew or should have known that persons such as Patricia Curry were living on the premises, were physically incapable of using the stairs to enter or exit the building, and were, therefore, dependent on the elevator to function properly as it was their only safe means of getting from their apartments to the outside world.

In addition, Curry asserts that the defendants, in failing to maintain the elevators in good working condition, were negligent in that they violated numerous statutes and ordinances, to wit: (1) Sections 2 and 3 of the Housing Authorities Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 67 1/2, pars. 2, 3) (which provides that one of the purposes of the Chicago Housing Authority is to provide safe dwellings for its tenants); (2) Sections 2 and 7 of "An Act in relation to the installation of elevators in buildings" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 111 1/2, pars. 4002, 4007) (which require elevators to be available for emergency use); (3) Section 3-102 of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 85, par. 3-102) (which states that a local public entity has a duty to maintain its property in reasonably safe condition); and (4) the Municipal Code of the City of Chicago, chapters 46-11, 46-12, and 46-13 (1984) (which requires elevator inspections). Curry claims that these statutes and ordinances impose a duty on the defendants and that the defendants' failure to comply with these statutes and ordinances proximately resulted in Patricia's death.

Following the trial court's dismissal of Curry's complaint, he filed this appeal. As stated previously, Curry claims that the trial court erred in: (1) failing to find that the defendants owed Patricia Curry a duty of care based on their undertaking to provide elevator service; (2) failing to find that policy considerations mandate a duty to be imposed on the defendants; and (3) failing to find that a duty was created by the statutes and ordinances set forth in her complaint.

OPINI ...


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