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02/18/97 MARY ANNE COLLINS v. CHICAGO TRANSIT

February 18, 1997

MARY ANNE COLLINS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. 96 L 01217. The Honorable Robert J. Quinn, Judge Presiding.

Released for Publication March 31, 1997.

Presiding Justice DiVITO delivered the opinion of the court. McNULTY and Tully, JJ., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Divito

PRESIDING JUSTICE DiVITO delivered the opinion of the court:

After a fellow passenger, Mauro Sisto, assaulted her on a Chicago Transit Authority train, plaintiff Mary Anne Collins filed a complaint against Sisto and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). Pursuant to the CTA's motion, the court dismissed it from the action based on its immunity under section 27 of the Metropolitan Transit Authority Act (70 ILCS 3605/27 (West 1992)) (Metropolitan Transit Act). Plaintiff appeals the dismissal on the basis that, notwithstanding any immunity it may have under the Metropolitan Transit Act, the CTA was liable for her injuries because it owed her a special duty.

The parties raise the following issues on appeal: (1) whether the allegations of plaintiff's complaint were sufficient to establish that the CTA owed her a special duty; (2) whether the special duty exception to governmental immunity applies to immunity under section 27 of the Metropolitan Transit Act; (3) whether applying a special duty exception to immunity under the Metropolitan Transit Act violates the Illinois Constitution of 1970.

In her complaint, plaintiff alleged the following. She used the CTA O'Hare/Douglas elevated train (Blue Line) to commute regularly from her home in Park Ridge to her job in downtown Chicago. She rode a CTA train rather than a Metra train because it was cheaper to do this, and the Metra train schedule was not convenient.

Over a period of weeks in the summer of 1995, Sisto stalked and assaulted plaintiff on Blue Line trains. Initially, he merely followed her or stood near her. She tried to avoid him, but he continued to pursue her, and his actions increased in frequency and intensity. For example, he approached her and pressed his pelvis against her.

Plaintiff further alleged that she placed telephone calls to the CTA, in which she complained about Sisto's behavior and asked for protection from him. The CTA, however, did nothing.

On July 19, 1995, plaintiff called the CTA again to request protection for herself and for other female passengers whom Sisto was pursuing. After this call, the CTA expressly promised to provide a security guard to walk through the trains in order to deter Sisto and to protect female passengers. In reliance on this promise, plaintiff continued to ride the Blue Line trains.

On the morning of July 20, 1995, plaintiff saw Sisto on the platform at a Blue Line stop. She ran from him. He chased her in and out of a train, but she escaped when the doors to the train closed while he was on the train and she was on the platform. According to plaintiff, there were no CTA security guards on the train.

Plaintiff's husband telephoned the president of the CTA later that day. He spoke to the president's assistant and informed the assistant of the incident involving plaintiff and Sisto. He asked the CTA to honor the promise it had made to his wife. The assistant informed plaintiff's husband that the president was in a meeting but that someone would return his call shortly.

That evening, when plaintiff was riding home on a Blue Line train, Sisto cornered her and placed his pelvis against her. At the next stop, plaintiff informed the conductor of the assault, and the conductor relayed the information to a dispatcher. Although there was a police station across the street from the California stop, which was a mile away, the conductor informed plaintiff that the police would be waiting at a stop that was several miles away. At no time did a security guard appear to assist plaintiff.

When Sisto saw plaintiff talking to the conductor, he exited the train at the California stop. Plaintiff informed the conductor of this, but he refused to apprehend Sisto or to otherwise help her. CTA personnel summoned the police only when plaintiff informed a ticket agent at the California stop that Sisto had assaulted her. Police arrested Sisto, and he pleaded guilty to assaulting plaintiff. Later that ...


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