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10/18/95 ROBERT TOWNER v. BOARD EDUCATION CITY

October 18, 1995

ROBERT TOWNER, A MINOR BY HERCULES AND HATTIE TOWNER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, DR. EDWARD OLIVER, MCKINLEY BRISTER, WILLIAM HARRIS AND HERMAN CRAYTON, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Kenneth L. Gillis, Judge Presiding.

Released for Publication November 28, 1995.

The Honorable Justice Rizzi delivered the opinion of the court: Greiman, P.j., and Cerda, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rizzi

JUSTICE RIZZI delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiff, Robert Towner, a minor, by his parents Hercules and Hattie Towner, filed this action to recover damages against defendants, Chicago Board of Education, Dr. Edward Oliver, McKinley Brister, William Harris, Chicago Police Department, and Police Officer Herman Crayton, Star # 8886, for the personal injury he received on school grounds while he was a student at Percy L. Julian High School (Julian), in Chicago, Illinois. The personal injury was inflicted by a non-student of Julian. The trial court entered a summary judgment in favor of the defendants, from which the plaintiff has appealed. We affirm.

Plaintiff was a student at Julian, located at 103rd and Elizabeth streets, in Chicago. The school is governed by the Chicago Board of Education. Dr. Edward Oliver was the principal, McKinley Brister was the vice-principal, and William Harris was the assistant principal of the school. Herman Crayton was a part-time plainclothes security guard at the school. Oliver, Brister, Harris and Crayton were all employed by the Chicago Board of Education. The Chicago Police Department, although named as a defendant, is not involved in the case.

On November 23, 1988, the plaintiff was injured when Assmaiel Nelson struck him on the head with a golf club. Nelson was a student at Englewood High School in Chicago; he was never a student at Julian. Nelson pleaded guilty to criminal charges of aggravated battery and was incarcerated as a result of the incident.

The plaintiff and some of his schoolmates, including Torrence Green, Curtis Barry, Bryant Dillon and Marion Veal, were members of a non-school related social club called the PJ Players. PJ Players consisted mainly of school band members. Another non-school related social club at the school was the U Phi Dogs, composed primarily of school football players. The two groups were rivals; they had several altercations.

There was another non-school related social club called the Bruzz, comprised mainly of students from Lindbloom High School in Chicago. The Bruzz was informally allied with the U Phi Dogs, and was therefore a rival of the PJ Players. As a result of a history of conflicts and fights between the rival social clubs, all non-school related social club organizations and their activities were banned from school buildings and grounds at Julian. Nelson, the perpetrator, was a member of the Bruzz.

The day of the incident was the last day of school before the Thanksgiving holiday. At approximately 1:30 p.m., a crowd congregated on the school grounds outside the school building. Crayton was the security guard on duty that day. After learning that a crowd was gathering outside on the school grounds, Crayton left his office and went outside. He observed a large number of students milling around, and he proceeded to disperse the crowd. He remained outside on the school grounds dispersing the crowd until after 3 p.m. During that time, he told plaintiff at least twice to go back into the school building. After Crayton had successfully cleared the area of students that had gathered, he went home because it was the end of his work day.

After Crayton's departure, a crowd again developed. Soon a fight occurred between Bryant Dillon, a member of the P.J. Players, and a person whose brother was a member of the U Phi Dogs. While the fight was in progress, plaintiff voluntarily went over and attempted to stop the fight. Whereupon, Nelson struck plaintiff on the head with a golf club causing the injury alleged in this case.

After plaintiff was hit with the golf club, Curtis Barry and Marion Veal walked him into the school building. They immediately encountered a teacher, Darcell Williams, who offered to take plaintiff to a hospital; Darcell Williams also called plaintiff's home to alert his parents of his injury and whereabouts. Notwithstanding Darcell Williams' offer of assistance, the three students went to the hospital on their own.

After substantial discovery, including the submission of affidavits and taking of depositions, and extensive briefing and oral argument on defendants' motion for summary judgment, the trial court granted the motion and entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants. This appeal followed.

As to whether summary judgment was proper, we need only address two issues. The first issue is whether the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (Act) is applicable. 745 ILCS 10/1-101 (West 1992). The second issue is whether as a matter of law plaintiff's injury was not caused by the alleged wilful and wanton conduct of the defendants.

As to the first issue, the Act provides that "neither a local public entity nor a public employee is liable for an injury caused by a failure to supervise an activity on or the use of any public property." 745 ILCS 10/3-108 (West 1992). It also provides that neither a local public entity nor a public employee is liable for failure to provide police protection service or, if police protection service is provided, for failure to prevent the commission of crimes, failure to detect or solve crimes, and failure to identify or apprehend criminals. 745 ILCS 10/4-102 (West 1992). A public employee is not liable for his act or omission in the execution or enforcement of any law unless such act or omission constitutes wilful and wanton conduct. 745 ILCS 10/2-202 (West 1992).

The Act further provides that local public entity includes school districts and all other local governmental bodies. 745 ILCS 10/1-206 (West 1992). Public employee means an employee of a local public entity. 745 ILCS 10/1-207 (West 1992). The purpose of the Act is to protect local public entities and public employees from ...


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