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12/15/88 Anita Mitsuuchi, v. the City of Chicago Et Al.

December 15, 1988

ANITA MITSUUCHI, APPELLEE

v.

THE CITY OF CHICAGO ET AL. (JUAN ARJONA, APPELLANT)



Before answering this question, we shall briefly summarize pertinent provisions of the Pension Code. Section 22 -- 306 of the Pension Code provides in part:

SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS

532 N.E.2d 830, 125 Ill. 2d 489, 127 Ill. Dec. 1 1988.IL.1801

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

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE CUNNINGHAM delivered the opinion of the court.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE CUNNINGHAM

On July 10, 1983, at about 5 p.m., plaintiff, Anita Mitsuuchi, a Chicago police officer, was a passenger in a Chicago police department squad car. The squad car was driven by defendant, Juan Arjona, a fellow police officer. Near the intersection of Wrightwood and Kedzie Avenues, the driver, Arjona, swerved the squad car to avoid striking a vehicle that had driven through a stop sign. The squad car left the roadway and struck a light pole. Plaintiff was injured, and brought a common law action in negligence against defendants, City of Chicago (City) and Arjona, her fellow officer.

Defendants filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint on the grounds that plaintiff's action was barred by sections 22-306 and 22-307 of the Illinois Pension Code (Pension Code) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 108 1/2, pars. 22-306, 22-307), and sections 22-18 through 22-22 of the Chicago Municipal Code (Chicago Municipal Code §§ 22-18 through 22-22 (1969)). The circuit court of Cook County dismissed with prejudice plaintiff's complaint against the City and Arjona.

The appellate court affirmed the circuit court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint against the City, but reversed the circuit court's dismissal of plaintiff's claim against defendant Arjona, and remanded the cause to the circuit court of Cook County. (164 Ill. App. 3d 815.) We allowed defendant Arjona's petition for leave to appeal pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 315 (107 Ill. 2d R. 315).

The issue presented is whether sections 22-306 and 22-307 of the Pension Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 108 1/2, pars. 22-306, 22-307) and sections 22-18 through 22-22 of the Chicago Municipal Code (Chicago Municipal Code §§ 22-18 through 22-22 (1969)) bar a police officer from bringing a common law negligence action against a fellow police officer for personal injury sustained in the line of duty. Does a negligent police officer share the City's immunity (under the Pension Code) from a common law negligence action by a fellow police officer for injuries suffered in the line of duty?

"The corporate authorities of any city or the village may provide by ordinance that in case of an accident resulting in an injury to or death of a policeman or fireman in the employ of such city or village while in the performance of his duties, the officer at the head of the department or such other officer as may be designated may secure and provide proper medical care and hospital treatment for any such policeman or fireman. The city or village may incur the expense aforesaid and appropriate and pay for the same.

If any such accident shall be due to the negligence of some person or corporation that would be liable in damages therefor, the city or village may recover any expense of medical care and hospital treatment expended by it from the person or corporation liable." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 108 1/2, par. 22-306.

If this provision were viewed in isolation, the benefit of it to a municipality might be uncertain. There is, however, a substantial direct financial incentive for a municipality to enact an ordinance in accordance with section 22 -- 306. This incentive is set forth in section 22 -- 307 of the Pension Code as follows:

"Common law or statutory rights barred. Whenever any city or village enacts an ordinance pursuant to this Division, no common law or statutory right to recover damages against such city or village for injury or death sustained by any policeman or fireman while engaged in the line of his duty as such policeman or fireman, other than the payment of the allowances of money and of the medical care and hospital treatment provided in such ordinance, shall be available to any policeman or fireman who is covered by the provisions of such ordinance, or to anyone wholly or partially dependent upon such policeman or fireman, or to the legal representative of the estate ...


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