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02/13/87 Leroy Christon Et Al., Adm v. Kankakee Valley Boat Club

February 13, 1987

LEROY CHRISTON ET AL., ADM'RS, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS

v.

KANKAKEE VALLEY BOAT CLUB ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES (KANKAKEE VALLEY PARK DISTRICT, DEFENDANT)



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT

504 N.E.2d 263, 152 Ill. App. 3d 202, 105 Ill. Dec. 394 1987.IL.171

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kankakee County; the Hon. Patrick M. Burns, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE BARRY delivered the opinion of the court. SCOTT, J., concurs. JUSTICE HEIPLE, Dissenting.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE BARRY

The plaintiffs, LeRoy Christon and Bobbie Christon, special administrators of the estate of Andrea Christon, brought suit against the defendants, Kankakee Valley Boat Club and Kankakee Valley Boat Club, Inc. (the boat club) and Kankakee Valley Park District (the park district). The plaintiffs appeal from the trial court's order of summary judgment for the boat club. We affirm.

On May 26, 1984, nine-year-old Andrea met with some friends at Beckman Park. Andrea and 12-year-old Margarito Soto then walked over to the adjoining Kankakee Valley Boat Club, where they took off their shoes and sat with their feet in the Kankakee River.

The river was about a foot higher than normal. This caused it to flood its banks and cover a sidewalk running parallel to the river for the length of the boat club. Also submerged were docks which jutted perpendicularly into the river from the sidewalk. On the edge of the sidewalk, next to the river, ran a 4-inch-wide metal strip. On the date of the accident, this strip could not be seen beneath the muddy water.

Andrea and Margarita were sitting on a gas pump, with their feet in the water covering the sidewalk. Seeing some ducks, Andrea decided to wade across the sidewalk and onto a dock so that she could get closer to them. She stopped, however, before reaching the docks because Margarita told her to do so. The next thing Margarita saw was Andrea falling into the river. Andrea drowned.

The plaintiffs filed suit, alleging in their second amended complaint that the defendant boat club had negligently failed to fence off the dock area, to supervise the dock area, to construct the docks so that they would not become submerged, to provide life rings or poles in the dock area, and to provide nonskid surfaces on the docks. They further alleged that the defendant park district had negligently failed to separate the park and the boat club by a fence or other barrier, to provide supervision or barriers when the river was high and overflowing its banks, and to provide life rings or poles along the banks of the river.

The defendant park district filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that the plaintiff's complaint did not state a cause of action against it. The court granted the motion.

The defendant boat club then filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging that, as a matter of law, the factual allegations pleaded by the plaintiffs did not establish that it had a legal duty to Andrea. The trial court granted the motion.

The plaintiffs argue on appeal that the trial court erred in granting the boat club's motion for summary judgment. Specifically, they argue that the source of risk was not the river, but the hidden, slippery strip of metal the defendants had placed next to it.

It is fundamental that there can be no recovery in tort for negligence unless the defendant has breached a duty owed to the plaintiff. The question of duty is a question of law to be determined by the court. (Fancil v. Q. S. E. Foods, Inc. (1975), 60 Ill. 2d 552, 318 N.E.2d 538.) A landowner has no duty to remedy conditions the obvious risks of which children generally would be expected to appreciate and avoid. There are many dangers, such as those of fire and water, or of falling from a height, which under ordinary conditions may reasonably be expected to be fully understood and appreciated by any child of an age to ...


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